disability cruising, Handicap, Traveling with disabilities

Disabled Cruisers Guide to Southampton (London), England

Southampton (London), England

The disabled cruiser visiting Southampton (London) will enjoy very good disabled access compared to other European cities.  Getting around London in a wheelchair is easy with every taxi and most buses in London having a wheelchair ramp. Disabled access building codes have resulted in most tourist attraction being accessible to wheelchair users. However, few of the metro stations in London have elevators. 

Wheelchair users will welcome the fact that almost all of the tourist areas of London are flat, the main exception is in the City of London near the Thames River and the Tower of London. Almost all of the museums and the popular churches of St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey have a wheelchair accessible entrance (normally different than the main entrance). The steep ramp at Parliament and the gravel at Buckingham Palace can cause some challenges, but there is step-free access. The London Eye will stop its rotation and place a wheelchair ramp to allow access to wheelchair users and other disabled tourists.

For the Disabled Cruiser walking/rolling in London will discover accessibility on London sidewalks is generally very good. The sidewalks in London are well-maintained and wheelchair users will rarely encounter broken concrete and enjoy the fact that there are very few cobblestones in London. Most street intersections have curb cuts for wheelchair users.

The Disabled Cruiser hiring a taxi will be delighted to learn that every taxi in London has a wheelchair ramp that the driver can extend to the curb. The ramp leads to a large flat area in between the front seats and the rear seats. The older cabs have a little lower head room than the new cabs, so electric wheelchair users may want to concentrate on hailing the newer cabs.

Not all is perfect in London, many tourist attractions are spread out and the Disabled Cruiser will need to use public transportation or taxis to get around the city. The Tower of London has the largest concentration of cobblestones in London. Several of the historical buildings at the Tower of London have steps with no ramps to enter and the building holding the crown jewels is wheelchair accessible, but tourists in wheelchair will have to roll over 200 meters of cobblestones to reach it. At many of the tourist attractions in London, you’ll need to locate an accessible side entrance to get in the building.

Southampton (London), England

Southampton is located in the county of Hampshire, on the south coast of England in the United Kingdom.

Southampton itself offers many shops, bars and restaurants as well as the SeaCity Maritime Museum.

In the center of Southampton is the historic Bargate, once the main entrance to the Old Town. The area holds markets, usually held on Fridays and Saturdays.

Beaulieu is the National Motor Museum featuring the world’s largest official collection of original James Bond vehicles, vehicles from the popular TV program Top Gear as well as the flying Ford Anglia from Harry Potter.

Sightseeing walks and tours in and around Southampton offer visitors the opportunity to explore, join one of the many guided or self-guided walks and discover the history and culture of the city.

The QE2 Mile is the pedestrian route that runs through the heart of the city from the Cenotaph down to the waterfront at Town Quay. It links the city’s parks, new cultural quarter, shopping high street, old town and waterfront. It is the most visited part of the city and has many historical features including the Cenotaph, Titanic memorial and Holy Rood church.

There are many ferry and harbor trips, all leaving from the Town Quay. It is also possible to visit the Isle of Wight, via a passenger and vehicle ferry.

Around 10 miles from the city center is Mottisfont Abbey, a National Trust property featuring a historic house museum, changing art exhibitions, gardens (including a walled rose garden) and a river walk.

Visitors can access London, Stonehenge in Salisbury and the New Forest if staying longer.

Where You’re Docked

There are 4 Cruise Terminals – City Cruise Terminal Berth 101 and Mayflower Cruise Terminal Berth 106 in the Western Docks, and Queen Elizabeth II Berth 38/39 and the Ocean Terminal at the Eastern Docks.

The train station is a 5 minute taxi ride from the docks and London is a 70-90 minute journey away.

Getting Around

Between Southampton and London by train: Go to Southampton Central Station for Southwest Trains to London. You have the option of four departures an hour (some are direct to London; check timetables) with journey times of 70 to 90 minutes. Fares are cheapest for departures after 10:00 a.m., so ask for a “cheap day single” (if you’re not planning on coming back) or “day return” if you’re planning on returning to the ship.

By bus: National Express coaches operate between Southampton’s bus station and London’s Victoria Coach Station, as well as between Southampton and the Central Bus Station at Heathrow Airport. Allow about 2.5 hours. The Disabled Cruiser will be delighted to learn that nearly all of the bus lines have buses with wheelchair ramps.

Points of Interest

  • Westminster Abbey, Parliament & Big Ben – London’s three major icons are near each other. When parliament is in session after dark, a light shines from Big Ben’s tower. Nearby Westminster Abbey has over a million visitors a year. For the Disabled Cruiser visiting Westminster Abbey wheelchair access is available for the main Abbey floor, but not up into the side crypts. Going to the tombs of Elizabeth I, Mary, Mary Queen of Scots and Stuarts requires a short climb of several steps and narrow passages with 2 way traffic. The Houses of Parliament is wheelchair accessible, thanks to a lift installed near the Westminster gallery. It will take you up to the main floor, which is step-free to the Central Lobby, the House of Lords, the Royal Gallery and its Robing Room, and also to the Chamber of Commons. The walkway through the House of Lords is too narrow for a wheelchair to pass and a staff member will lead you through a corridor running alongside which the majority of visitors do not normally see. The area around Big Ben is very accessible, the tower itself is not.

  • Tower of London – This historic fortress resides on the north bank of the Thames. The tower comprises several buildings set within two rings of defensive walls and a moat. It has served as a residence and a prison. For the Disabled Cruiser the Tower of London wheelchair access is challenge. Several buildings can only be accessed by steps. The majority of the Tower of London has steps but access to the Crown Jewels is step-free. To visit the Crown Jewels, you are required to navigating about 200 m of cobblestones going in an out, and about 200 m going up a smooth hill when you leave the area.
  • Buckingham Palace – This is the official royal palace of the British monarch since Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837. It is a venue for state and royal events and has the largest private garden in London. For the Disabled Cruiser visiting Buckingham Palace there is a buggy that takes you from the front gates to the entrance where there is a ramp and wheelchair lift that gets you into the Palace. Lifts are also available to get to the upper floor.

  • Old Town – one of the most famous landmarks in Southampton it the old town northern entrance, “Bargate”. Visit the the Archaeological Museum, the Medieval Merchants House, the Tudor House, the Maritime Museum and the God’s House Tower remains.
  • Titanic Trail – start at Musician’s Memorial and end at the Maritime Museum. The museum is located at Town Quay in the Wool House. Explore the tragic faith of the famous ocean liner.
  • Stonehenge Tour – One of the most important survivals of prehistoric England, Stonehenge consists of a group of huge rough-cut stones, some more than 20 feet high, arranged in two concentric circles. (car travel time from Southampton 50 min / northwest, or 30 min train travel to Salisbury). The Disabled Cruiser will find the ground at the stones is uneven but not impossible to negotiate. The paved area closest to the stones gives you a good view. The path around the stones is only paved for a short section, so you have to contend with lumpy grass for most of it.

Southampton Accessible Excursions

Southampton is the gateway to the immensely civilized city of London. There are museums to visit, pubs to try, and shops to browse, ranging from Harrods to open-air markets. Disabled visitors to London have numerous options for accessible London tours including accessible walking/rolling tours, accessible driving tours, accessible boat tours, and accessible train tours to nearby cities.

Highlights of London Accessible Driving Tour

This 3 hour accessible London driving tour travels the 3 miles between the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey. You’ll see all the highlights in one accessible driving tour. Your driver/guide will use accessible transportation with a wheelchair ramp to comfortably drive you between attractions. 

The Highlights of London Accessible Driving Tour utilizes a vehicle with a wheelchair ramp and no long distances to walk/roll. Your transportation will be in a clean, modern accessible black taxi. The car has a built-in wheelchair ramp. Manual wheelchair users and electric wheelchair users can roll into the car.

Panoramic London Accessible Guided Tour

This 7 hour London accessible guided tour is a combined driving and walking tour that allows you to explore London’s big sights and back streets all in one day. You’ll see all the highlights in one accessible driving tour. Your driver/guide will use accessible transportation with a wheelchair ramp to comfortably drive you between attractions. 

The Panoramic London Accessible Guided Tour utilizes a vehicle with a wheelchair ramp and no long distances to walk/roll. Your transportation will be in a clean, modern accessible black taxi. The car has a built-in wheelchair ramp. Manual wheelchair users and electric wheelchair users can roll into the car.

Classic London Wheelchair Accessible Tour

This 3 hour London guided tour utilizes wheelchair accessible routes connect all the essential London sights on this London accessible tour. You’ll see Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, and much more.

The Classic London Wheelchair Accessible Tour includes step-free routes and the tour guide can push manual wheelchairs. Sidewalk ramps will be used extensively to avoid curbs. 

The Classic London Wheelchair Accessible Tour avoids London stairs and it also avoids London cobblestones. It involves walking/rolling about 1.5 miles between the sights.

Royal London Accessible Guided Tour

Hundreds of years of royal history, stories, and gossip are covered during this 2 hour London accessible guided tour. Royal palaces, royal parks, and royal monuments provide a background for a wheelchair accessible walk through history.

This wheelchair accessible London guided tour uses a flat tour route. Tour participants may encounter some minor cobblestones. The tour avoids narrow sidewalks and hills while you hear royal stories spanning hundreds of years.

For Southampton (London) Accessible Excursions please click here.



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