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styme123

London itinerary and luggage storage

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My DH and I will be on a BI cruise with Princess this summer. I'm hoping fellow CC can guide me on a few questions that I had.

 

 Does anyone have opinions about flying into Heathrow or Gatwick? Some airline reviews said Gatwick was less crowded. I was leaning toward Delta or Virgin Atlantic as a carrier.

 

We will be flying in from NY late Thursday night and landing on Fri morning early. The cruise leaves on Saturday. So we have one day pre-cruise I guess. What is realistic for us to see or do for the day or so before the cruise? I'm more of a runner that wants to get it all in, my husband is not. He would be happy with going to the hotel and taking a nap 😁 Will we burn ourselves out before the cruise even starts if we pack sights into the Fri we land?

 

The cruise returns on a Thurs and we will Fly back to NY on Saturday night so that gives us 2-3 days.

If the ship docks at 5:00am when would we be off by?

Should we plan much for the day we fly out? We can leave late like 9/10:00pm. 

Most of the sights I want to see are the usual touristy things like the Palace, Thames Bridge, Big Ben. I would also like to do the Stonehenge area tour. I haven't looked into how long each of these places take or how to get around.

I want to pick my flight times but I'm a little nervous to do so without having my days planned out.

On our last day or when we fly in, what do you do with your luggage while your sightseeing? We'll be flying in at about 8/10:00am most hotels don't let you check-in till later.

Thank you for all your feedback.   

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I would fly into whichever airport gave me the cheapest flight. Gatwick is certainly smaller and easier to navigate, but Heathrow is not that bad.

 

After a night on a plane, I would not be planning much sightseeing. You could have your first night in Southampton and drop your bags at a hotel. There are a number of options from there, including Salisbury/Stonehenge (by train and bus - sounds complicated but it is pretty easy) if you feel up to it, or there is Warwick, a short train ride away after you have a nice lunch somewhere.

 

Given that you have the time you could book a tour via Stonehenge on your return to Southampton. International Friends do one used by many on this forum. https://www.internationalfriends.co.uk/Southampton-Cruise-Tour-Transfer-To-London.html

Edited by Bob++

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30 minutes ago, Bob++ said:

Given that you have the time you could book a tour via Stonehenge on your return to Southampton. International Friends do one used by many on this forum. https://www.internationalfriends.co.uk/Southampton-Cruise-Tour-Transfer-To-London.html

Thanks for the feedback Bob. The international Friends tour was the one I was thinking about. Any ideas about luggage storage?

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If you are booked at a hotel, most of them will store your bags until check in. If you go to London for your first night, you need to book a hotel near Victoria or Waterloo Stations, for transport to Southampton on sailing day. 

 

Maybe take a trip down the river, which is a good and easy way to see some of the main attractions.

 

Edited by Bob++

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Similar answer to Bob's.

 

There are various minor pros & cons for Heathrow vs Gatwick,  but much more significant will be the best airfare, flight times and your airline preference. So choose by those factors, and the airport will be what it will be.

...........................................

You don't really have time, and probably won't have the energy) to visit London pre-cruise - but if you want to do that I suggest an airport hotel, register & leave your bags at the hotel (no problem leaving your luggage ahead of check-in time) and go into London ........................... 

 

- from Heathrow by direct tube-line (London's metro) & get off at Piccadilly or the Heathrow Express train (buy HEX tickets months in advance because buying on-the-day will cost about four times as much) which goes direct to Paddington station.. 

Paddington isn't as convenient to London sights as Piccadilly. Return to hotel same-way.

In the morning travel to Southampton by Nat Express bus ( about £21, 2hrs 15 mins, do pre-book the bus)) and short taxi ride (about £8) from Southampton coach station to ship. Or by the International Friends' coach tour-transfer linked by Bob, which includes a diversion and entry tickets for Stonehenge - luggage travels on the coach.

 

- from Gatwick by direct Gatwick Express train to London Victoria station (or the regular stopping train takes only a couple of minutes longer & costs less if you buy advance tickets). Return to hotel same-way. In the morning take the direct hourly train to Southampton ( 2 hours. as low as £20 if you buy advance tickets, available from about 8 weeks out) and short taxi ride (about £8) from Southampton central to ship. (no Stonehenge option from Gatwick)

-------------------------------

 

A central London hotel will be expensive, particularly because you're unlikely to arrive in central London before early afternoon, and no time to sight-see on the morning of your cruise. But if that's what you choose, make it a hotel in Victoria, which is best-placed for travel from Gatwick by train or bus and from Heathrow by tube or bus and to Souhampton by bus.

It's also convenient to the ho-no bus routes, which I'd recommend for a whistle-stop tour of the sights without getting off (except at Buckingham Palace if you want to see it, because the buses don't pass the front of it). Ho-ho tickets include a short river cruise.

The Int Friends' Stonehenge tour-transfer is an option for travel to Southampton

 

--------------------------------------------------------------

 

To travel to Southampton from the airport, pre-book the Nat Express bus from Heathrow, or the train from Gatwick.

Choose one of the Southampton hotels on this web-page

https://www.londontoolkit.com/travel/southampton_accommodation.htm

There's a useful sketch map at the foot of that page.

Note the rail & coach stations, and cruise terminals.

 

Depending on mood, weather, and energy levels you can visit Salisbury (recommended) by train and, if time allows, jump on the Stonehenge ho-ho tour at Salisbury station.

http://www.thestonehengetour.info/

Or a short train ride to Winchester (Bob had a brain malfunction when he mentioned Warwick, a couple of hundred miles away :classic_tongue:)

Or stay in Southampton - it's not a tourist  city but does have enough historic sights to amuse a visitor for a day.. And you'll have the time (if not the energy :classic_wink:)  to explore Southampton on cruise morning.

There's no advantage in pre-booking trains to Salisbury or Winchester, or for the Stonehenge bus from Salisbury.

So you can make your own minds up on the day.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Post-cruise you'll have a full day in London with mebbe a half-day each side of it.

Direct train or direct bus to central London (pre-booked both bus & train are cheap), choose a hotel in Waterloo (by train) or Victoria (by bus).

Or the International Friends' tour-transfer. Much better value in this direction because the timing is not constrained by check-in time for your cruise so there's time for Salisbury Cathedral & Windsor Castle as well, and you get dropped at - or a few yards from - your central London hotel.

Again, ho-ho is good for an over-view. But for inside visits to the sights it's a lot quicker to to get around by tube.

For you flights home, a hotel in Victoria  is good for travel to Gatwick and tolerably convenient by tube or Nat Express bus for Heathrow. Waterloo is less-convenient for either airport.

 

----------------------------------

 

Both pre-cruie & post-cruise hotels will store your luggage, usually without a fee, ahead of check-in and after check-out.

 

Lots of options there, each has its pros & cons.

To maximise your time choose an early flight in and a late flight back. But think about jet-lag and energy levels generally.

 

https://www.nationalexpress.com/en

http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/

https://www.theoriginaltour.com/en

https://www.bigbustours.com/en/london/london-bus-tours

http://content.tfl.gov.uk/standard-tube-map.pdf

(Don't bother printing off, tube maps are repeated on tourist maps, on leaflets and at tube stations.

 

JB :classic_smile:

 

 

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There's never enough time in London. This fall, we had two nights in London before our cruise. We could not get away sooner. I booked a hotel near Trafalgar Square so we could be walking distance to see shows both nights. Our flight landed around noon, so by the time we made it through customs and immigration and took the Tube, we could check in. I walked to Leicester Square to get tickets for shows. DH rested since he had not slept on the plane. On our full day in London, we went to Kew Gardens to see the Chihuly exhibit there. It was a wonderful day. And then a nice dinner and a show that night. We took a National Express coach the morning of our cruise from Victoria Coach Station. 

 

My recommendation would be to try to add more time to your trip. We had six nights in London and one in Southampton last year before our transatlantic cruise.

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13 hours ago, geoherb said:

There's never enough time in London. This fall, we had two nights in London before our cruise. We could not get away sooner. I booked a hotel near Trafalgar Square so we could be walking distance to see shows both nights. Our flight landed around noon, so by the time we made it through customs and immigration and took the Tube, we could check in. I walked to Leicester Square to get tickets for shows. DH rested since he had not slept on the plane. On our full day in London, we went to Kew Gardens to see the Chihuly exhibit there. It was a wonderful day. And then a nice dinner and a show that night. We took a National Express coach the morning of our cruise from Victoria Coach Station. 

 

My recommendation would be to try to add more time to your trip. We had six nights in London and one in Southampton last year before our transatlantic cruise.

I wish I could add more time. DH has to get back to work.

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14 hours ago, John Bull said:

Similar answer to Bob's.

 

There are various minor pros & cons for Heathrow vs Gatwick,  but much more significant will be the best airfare, flight times and your airline preference. So choose by those factors, and the airport will be what it will be.

...........................................

You don't really have time, and probably won't have the energy) to visit London pre-cruise - but if you want to do that I suggest an airport hotel, register & leave your bags at the hotel (no problem leaving your luggage ahead of check-in time) and go into London ........................... 

 

- from Heathrow by direct tube-line (London's metro) & get off at Piccadilly or the Heathrow Express train (buy HEX tickets months in advance because buying on-the-day will cost about four times as much) which goes direct to Paddington station.. 

Paddington isn't as convenient to London sights as Piccadilly. Return to hotel same-way.

In the morning travel to Southampton by Nat Express bus ( about £21, 2hrs 15 mins, do pre-book the bus)) and short taxi ride (about £8) from Southampton coach station to ship. Or by the International Friends' coach tour-transfer linked by Bob, which includes a diversion and entry tickets for Stonehenge - luggage travels on the coach.

 

- from Gatwick by direct Gatwick Express train to London Victoria station (or the regular stopping train takes only a couple of minutes longer & costs less if you buy advance tickets). Return to hotel same-way. In the morning take the direct hourly train to Southampton ( 2 hours. as low as £20 if you buy advance tickets, available from about 8 weeks out) and short taxi ride (about £8) from Southampton central to ship. (no Stonehenge option from Gatwick)

-------------------------------

 

A central London hotel will be expensive, particularly because you're unlikely to arrive in central London before early afternoon, and no time to sight-see on the morning of your cruise. But if that's what you choose, make it a hotel in Victoria, which is best-placed for travel from Gatwick by train or bus and from Heathrow by tube or bus and to Souhampton by bus.

It's also convenient to the ho-no bus routes, which I'd recommend for a whistle-stop tour of the sights without getting off (except at Buckingham Palace if you want to see it, because the buses don't pass the front of it). Ho-ho tickets include a short river cruise.

The Int Friends' Stonehenge tour-transfer is an option for travel to Southampton

 

--------------------------------------------------------------

 

To travel to Southampton from the airport, pre-book the Nat Express bus from Heathrow, or the train from Gatwick.

Choose one of the Southampton hotels on this web-page

https://www.londontoolkit.com/travel/southampton_accommodation.htm

There's a useful sketch map at the foot of that page.

Note the rail & coach stations, and cruise terminals.

 

Depending on mood, weather, and energy levels you can visit Salisbury (recommended) by train and, if time allows, jump on the Stonehenge ho-ho tour at Salisbury station.

http://www.thestonehengetour.info/

Or a short train ride to Winchester (Bob had a brain malfunction when he mentioned Warwick, a couple of hundred miles away :classic_tongue:)

Or stay in Southampton - it's not a tourist  city but does have enough historic sights to amuse a visitor for a day.. And you'll have the time (if not the energy :classic_wink:)  to explore Southampton on cruise morning.

There's no advantage in pre-booking trains to Salisbury or Winchester, or for the Stonehenge bus from Salisbury.

So you can make your own minds up on the day.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Post-cruise you'll have a full day in London with mebbe a half-day each side of it.

Direct train or direct bus to central London (pre-booked both bus & train are cheap), choose a hotel in Waterloo (by train) or Victoria (by bus).

Or the International Friends' tour-transfer. Much better value in this direction because the timing is not constrained by check-in time for your cruise so there's time for Salisbury Cathedral & Windsor Castle as well, and you get dropped at - or a few yards from - your central London hotel.

Again, ho-ho is good for an over-view. But for inside visits to the sights it's a lot quicker to to get around by tube.

For you flights home, a hotel in Victoria  is good for travel to Gatwick and tolerably convenient by tube or Nat Express bus for Heathrow. Waterloo is less-convenient for either airport.

 

----------------------------------

 

Both pre-cruie & post-cruise hotels will store your luggage, usually without a fee, ahead of check-in and after check-out.

 

Lots of options there, each has its pros & cons.

To maximise your time choose an early flight in and a late flight back. But think about jet-lag and energy levels generally.

 

https://www.nationalexpress.com/en

http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/

https://www.theoriginaltour.com/en

https://www.bigbustours.com/en/london/london-bus-tours

http://content.tfl.gov.uk/standard-tube-map.pdf

(Don't bother printing off, tube maps are repeated on tourist maps, on leaflets and at tube stations.

 

JB :classic_smile:

 

 

Thank you Soooo much for your detailed response. It is so helpful and I appreciate all the time you took to put in all the options and links. It has so many good options to think about. 

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15 hours ago, Bob++ said:

If you are booked at a hotel, most of them will store your bags until check in. If you go to London for your first night, you need to book a hotel near Victoria or Waterloo Stations, for transport to Southampton on sailing day. 

 

Maybe take a trip down the river, which is a good and easy way to see some of the main attractions.

 

The river trip might be a nice relaxing option as well. Good ideas thank you!

 

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Would you book your plane fare before sorting out all the details of what time and where you want to see things? or work the things you want to see around your flights. My basic idea for flight times was fly in early Fri about 8-9:00am and Fly out late around 7:00-9:00pm on Sat. I'm nervous that the flights will increase in price a lot as I'm planning. Planning takes me a while as I tend to over research/analyze everything. 

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I think those options generally work, and you can work around them. Your first day you're going to be beat, so don't over plan. Your last day you will overplan, so just give yourself time! Get your flights, and adjust your schedule around them. Unless you're going to move to London, you can't see it. Pick some things you want to do, and enjoy them. And build in some time to just get lost. It's an amazing city that I could visit as often as possible.

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22 hours ago, markeb said:

Unless you're going to move to London, you can't see it. Pick some things you want to do, and enjoy them. And build in some time to just get lost. It's an amazing city that I could visit as often as possible.

That's such a good point. I think I usually tend to want to plan every minute to get the most out of it, almost as if I could never return. It often makes for grumpy travel companions as well. 😁

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Sorry about the "brain malfunction"; Warwick with its impressive castle is well worth a visit, but not within your time limitations. I did indeed mean to say Winchester which was the capital city of England until William the Conqueror turned up, built the Tower of London and moved the administration to Westminster, then a separate town.

Edited by Bob++

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