Known as the Cruise Capital of Northern Europe , Southampton has long been the hub of the British cruise industry. Home port of the historic Cunard line, and a start port for many others, a cruise from Southampton takes us back to the Golden Age of sailing, when legendary vessels like the Queen Mary and Mauretania proudly lined the quayside.
The most infamous cruise from Southampton was that undertaken by the Titanic, on her maiden voyage almost 100 years ago. Officially, it was a crossing rather than a cruise, ocean liners mainly being a way of getting from A to B. Nonetheless, the glamour and luxury associated with those early crossings directly affected the way cruises from Southampton operate today.
Today, Southampton is the embarkation point for some of the world’s most famous cruise liners. Many cruises from Southampton are maiden voyages, on ships that were often named there. This includes some of the largest and fastest cruise ships in the world. Vessels like Independence of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ship which, at the time of its launch in 2008, was one of the largest cruise vessels afloat.
The Celebrity Eclipse, which was also named here, is another ship with a famous past. When the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajkull erupted in 2010, grounding all air traffic, Spanish tourists stranded in England were offered a surefire way of getting home – a cruise from Southampton! British holidaymakers were offered the same unexpected deal from the Bilbao end, on what was the vessel’s maiden voyage.
P & O have a long history of running from Southampton – after all, they invented the concept, back in 1837. Cunard, the only line whose ships are actually registered here, gained fame for the speed of its transatlantic crossings, the fastest ever recorded. Today, a Cunard world cruise can last 100 days or more.
Probably the most memorable recent cruise from Southampton was the one taken by the QE2, when she set sail for Dubai on her final voyage, in November 2008.
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