SOUTHAMPTON to PORTSMOUTH - times/hotels/ferry/customs advice


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#1
US
535 Posts
Joined Nov 2009
I have previously only done westbound TA and have just booked an Eastbound TA (NY - Southampton)

The ship normally arrives in NY around 6-6:30-ish and I was wondering if this is true in Southampton also? Does anyone have time estimates on customs - which can vary of course - but a general time for the customs for NON-UK citizens. We always do self-debarkation and were thinking of hiring a private car to drive us to Portsmouth to catch the ferry over to Cherbourg but I am sure it would be tight, in regards to timing. It is a Sunday though so perhaps traffic would not be too bad. Just trying to see which option would be feasible.

Our other options would be a longer "ferry" (rather than the 3-4 hour high speed one) on an overnight crossing to St Malo or a stay over night in Portsmouth to catch the high speed ferry the next day. Does anyone have experience with either the long ferry or staying over in Portsmouth who can make a recommendation on these options. My preference is to high tail it off the ship and go straight to the Portsmouth ferry but of course that might not work...
Thank you!
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#2
LI NY
677 Posts
Joined Oct 2009
I do not know if this is true 100% of the time, but our eastbound crossing had an onboard UK Customs agent. He did all the paperwork examination during the crossing [about 5 minutes worth for us] so the ship arrived 'cleared'.
It would be nice if US Customs worked the same way on the Westbound leg.
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#3
107 Posts
Joined Apr 2018
There will be a UK Customs agent on Board traveling with you from New York. In other words: if the gangway's down you're good to go. Keep in mind that the ship might run a little late (1-2hrs), but that does not occur very often. I always do self-help disembarkation, which speeds up the process. That said: If you also want to have breakfast at the Lido Buffet, you will get off the boat at about 9:00 am and arrive at the railway station by 10am.

There are frequent trains running from Southampton Central to Portsmouth, which cost about £10 per person. So my suggestion is: Take a cab to Southampton Central, get to Portsmouth by train. See: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk This offers the advantage that you don't have to arrange any plans in advance, just get to the station by regular taxi, buy a ticket and hop on a train (if there is no bus replacement service).

That said: If get through Portsmouth, a visit to the Historic Dockyard is almost mandatory. It's one of the most spectacular Maritime Museums in the World. There is Nelson's HMS Victory, the HMS Warrior, the HMS M33 and the remnants of the Mary Rose.
http://www.historicdockyard.co.uk/index.php
I'd recommend you to reserve the rest of your day for this and spend the night in Portsmouth.

#4
New Hampshire
803 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Originally posted by axelskater
I have previously only done westbound TA and have just booked an Eastbound TA (NY - Southampton)

The ship normally arrives in NY around 6-6:30-ish and I was wondering if this is true in Southampton also? Does anyone have time estimates on customs - which can vary of course - but a general time for the customs for NON-UK citizens. We always do self-debarkation and were thinking of hiring a private car to drive us to Portsmouth to catch the ferry over to Cherbourg but I am sure it would be tight, in regards to timing. It is a Sunday though so perhaps traffic would not be too bad. Just trying to see which option would be feasible.

Our other options would be a longer "ferry" (rather than the 3-4 hour high speed one) on an overnight crossing to St Malo or a stay over night in Portsmouth to catch the high speed ferry the next day. Does anyone have experience with either the long ferry or staying over in Portsmouth who can make a recommendation on these options. My preference is to high tail it off the ship and go straight to the Portsmouth ferry but of course that might not work...
Thank you!
I looked at doing this myself a couple of years ago. Isn't that first ferry really early like 8 or 8:30? That would be a tight schedule.

I'm trying to think how soon we were let off with self disembarkation and it could have been as early as 7AM. If you have any chance at all in making it you would have to have a car service waiting for you. We use smithsforairports.com when we're in the UK. Very reliable.

All that said, in the end we decided not to take the chance and instead took the car service to London and took the Eurostar to Paris and traveled from there. Better then overnighting we thought.
#5
New Jersey
9,807 Posts
Joined May 2007
Originally posted by Shuffleboard Dude
There will be a UK Customs agent on Board traveling with you from New York. In other words: if the gangway's down you're good to go. Keep in mind that the ship might run a little late (1-2hrs), but that does not occur very often. I always do self-help disembarkation, which speeds up the process. That said: If you also want to have breakfast at the Lido Buffet, you will get off the boat at about 9:00 am and arrive at the railway station by 10am.

There are frequent trains running from Southampton Central to Portsmouth, which cost about £10 per person. So my suggestion is: Take a cab to Southampton Central, get to Portsmouth by train. See: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk This offers the advantage that you don't have to arrange any plans in advance, just get to the station by regular taxi, buy a ticket and hop on a train (if there is no bus replacement service).

That said: If get through Portsmouth, a visit to the Historic Dockyard is almost mandatory. It's one of the most spectacular Maritime Museums in the World. There is Nelson's HMS Victory, the HMS Warrior, the HMS M33 and the remnants of the Mary Rose.
http://www.historicdockyard.co.uk/index.php
I'd recommend you to reserve the rest of your day for this and spend the night in Portsmouth.
This sounds like a good plan to me. We've taken the train from Southampton to Portsmouth. Not on a Sunday, though. Good idea to check the national rail site to see how often the trains run on Sunday.
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Kathy
The THIRD generation in my family to sail on a Cunarder
22 QE2 - including 2 Midnight Sun, 2 Panama Canal, 6 TAs, 4 Canada/New England, and various Caribbean, Bermuda, Europe itineraries
11 QM2 - 7 TAs, Caribbean, Royal Circumnavigation of Australia, Canada
1 Caronia - Baltic
12 HAL -Bermuda, Canada, Caribbean, Alaska
1 Princess
2 RCCL
5 NCL - including 2 on SS Norway (RIP)
1 Uniworld River Cruise (Tulips and Windmills)
1 American Cruise Line - Queen of the West, Columbia & Snake Rivers
#6
UK
279 Posts
Joined May 2004
Try considering the afternoon ferry to Ouistraham near Caen. Would give you the morning in Portsmouth to see the historic dockyard - HMS Victory etc.
Brittany Ferries operate this service
#7
US
535 Posts
Joined Nov 2009
I did not see an afternoon ferry so I will take a look at this Ouistraham one thank you. I actually used a car service who is still in operation on my previous voyages so we could have him waiting for us. We would self-debark so we would get off by 7-7:30am...and the ferry departs Portsmouth at 9. The ride took 30 minutes in the past..
The main thing I was hoping to do was to have the high speed ferry rather than a longer one, but I am just unsure of timing. The Eurostar could be a great idea but goes past where we need to be...I suppose it does not stop until Paris and our time will be spent in Normandy before flying home.
I appreciate all of this wonderful information ad advice. I am looking at Portsmouth hotels and of course it is a while off so I have not really decided anything yet. Just looking to make sure I plan this one day the right way!
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#8
107 Posts
Joined Apr 2018
I would not bet on the 9am ferry - check in closes around 8:15. This would leave you with about 15mins of spare time.
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#9
US
535 Posts
Joined Nov 2009
Thank you for that! Although it is a bit disappointing to not be able to make the high speed ferry the day we get in, I don't think I want to do a slower one to the Caen area port. I suppose 1 night in Portsmouth will be a necessity. I did not care for Southampton at all - but maybe we just went to the wrong areas! The Portsmouth Cherbourg ferry is so quick though, and the afternoon ferry to Caen looked like it was overnight....
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QUEEN MARY 2 - Oct 2004, Dec 2005, Dec 2006, May 2006, Dec 2007, July 2008, Dec 2008, Dec 2009, Dec 2010, Sept 2011, Sept 2013, Oct 2014, Oct 2015
Queen Mary Hotel in Long Beach, CA - Dec 2013

Disney Magic - Jan 2014, Disney Dream - Dec 2015, Sept 2016, Feb 2017

Eurodam Alaksa Sept 2017 - mistake