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A Trek Thru the British Isles III - Southampton & Guernsey

Remembering the Titanic and A visit to the Channel Islands

The trip from London to Southampton began on a bright sunny morning with fantastic warm weather. Our Princess Cruises driver was friendly and very skilled at maneuvering a large bus through the narrow streets of London before we reached the expressway. After about an hour or so we approached the Southampton, UK cruise pier where the Crown Princess was docked.

Anyone familiar with the story of the Titanic knows the significance of Southampton. Southampton is on the south coast of England, about 75 miles southwest of London. Southampton has always been a sea port, and the docks have long been a major employer in the city. It is a port for cruise ships and in its heyday it handled almost half the passenger traffic of the UK. Today it remains home to luxury cruise ships, as well as being the largest freight port on the Channel coast. In April of 1912, the RMS Titanic, a new mega ocean liner built by the White Star Line, sank on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City, United States after hitting an iceberg. The ship sank on April 15, 1912, resulting in the deaths of 1,517 people in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history. The story of Titanic has been written about endlessly in books and depicted in movies and I could not wait to see the place where her ill fated voyage began.

RMS Titanic docked in Southampton in 1912
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We left the transport with our luggage and boarded the Crown Princess after a very short wait (being a Platinum Princess repeat guest has its privileges). Looking around at this new ship I felt immediate comfort in the familiarity of the decor and some delight at the new features that were a part of Crown Princess. After depositing our carryon luggage in our stateroom, another spacious mini suite, Mom and I made our way up to the Lido deck to check out what was for lunch in the Horizon Court. It was still pretty early in the day so I stopped by the pool to relax in the sunshine after lunch. There were concert videos playing on the large outdoor video screen above the pool and I had a great view of the shoreline of Southampton.

Crown Princess pool deck
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Port of Southampton, UK
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View of Southampton, UK from the Crown Princess dock
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The Crown Princess filled fairly quickly over the next few hours as more passengers boarded the ship. I immediately noticed a trend. A large percentage of the passengers for this voyage were from the United States, in particular, the north eastern states of New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts with a few southerners like Mom and me thrown in. It was going to be an interesting trip. I enjoyed seeing the large family groups of grandparents, parents and children all traveling together, along with lots of people in their 20s and 30s to round out the demographics.

Sail A Way that afternoon was pleasant with the coast of England slowly fading away. Dinner that first night at sea was fun. We sat at a table for 8 with some fellow Americans from various parts of the US. The food was delicious as expected and the service from our wait staff excellent. We decided to call it a night not too long after dessert so we would be ready for our first port of call, St Peter Port on the island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands the next day.

Morning brought a gorgeous view of St Peter Port. Saint Peter Port is the capital of Guernsey as well as the main port. The population is around 16,488 and the official language is French as it is just a few miles off the coast of France. This island also has the distinction of being half British and half French. This port is for the most part a small town consisting mostly of steep narrow streets and steps on the overlooking slopes. A trading post or town has existed here since before Roman times.

St Peter Port on the island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands
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This particular port required passengers to use a tender (small boat) to reach the shore, so Mom elected to stay aboard the Crown so as not to risk falling and injuring her newly mended leg. I had booked a half day tour of the island before the cruise began, so I made my way down to the tender deck and then to the tour bus on shore. The weather this day was again clear and relatively warm. There were beautiful flowers everywhere. We rode along sightseeing for a while before stopping at a historic Manor House for a short tour and a chance to stretch our legs.

Historic Manor House, St Peter Port on the island of Guernsey
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Leaving the Manor House we returned to the town of St Peter Port. I had planned to do some shopping but found most of the stores were already closed for the day. So, after milling around for a while looking at the scenery, I boarded one of the tenders and returned to the ship to spend the rest of the afternoon on our balcony. It was a short but pleasant first day of our British Isles cruise with much more to see and do in the days to come.

Next up, we dock in Liverpool, England, the home of the Beatles and I take a ride down Penny Lane!

Too Be Continued....

Gerrilyn Grant Gipson Esq.
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Posted by Gerriv 08:33

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