Disclaimer: Due to the high price the internet on the ship (.99/minute) we were unable to blog live for this cruise. The events of this article took place on Oct 5, 2018.
Read about our previous day here.
Today we woke up in Southampton, England. Today was my birthday. Last year we disembarked the cruise ship, Disney Wonder on my birthday, so this was an upgrade.
The last time we were here was in 2014 when we started a 14 night transatlantic cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas with Royal Caribbean.
The view this morning was absolutely picture perfect. It was the most beautiful cloud we’ve ever seen.
We were not in hurry to get off the ship since we did not have a tour booked. Ramon as always woke up early and went to the gym. The treadmill wait situation was not any better per Ramon, but we will NOT get into that today.
We decided to tour Salisbury and Stonehenge today. A lot of our fellow passengers chose to go to London, but we did not. We have been there several times in the past, and it would have been a 2.5 hour drive each way on a bus to get to London and you would only be able to spend about 4 hours there. With two young kids, this was not exactly how I wanted to spend my birthday.
The ship’s tour of Salisbury and Stonehenge would have been $448, and we would have been restricted to the schedule of the tour. We find it much more enjoyable to tour at our own pace typically rather than with a tour so we opted to explore on our own.
We ate breakfast at O’Sheehan’s this morning. They didn’t have cereal which you have probably noticed is our kids go to at breakfast time. Instead the kids had french toast, I had some scrambled eggs, and Ramon had two eggs, bacon and toast. We all enjoyed our breakfasts.
We got off the ship around 10AM, and it was very eerie seeing Southampton so empty. It is typically bustling with cruise ships embarking and disembarking, and to see absolutely no one was very bizarre.
We called an Uber to take us directly to the train station in Salisbury. We could have walked 20 minutes to the train station in Southampton and took a 30 minute train, but the train schedule would not work with our plans. It only took 2 minutes for our Uber to arrive. It is typically a 30 minutes drive, but became 40 minutes with traffic. We would have to take train back from Salisbury though as Ubers were not available for transport back to Southampton.
We arrived at the Salisbury rail station at about noon, and paid our driver $57 dollars for the ride to Salisbury. While we did not have any specific tours scheduled, we had signed up for a pseudo Hop On Hop Off tour. Unlike traditional HOHO tours, The Stonehenge Tour, only had three stops, Stonehenge, Old Sarum, and Salisbury City Center. The tour was $103 dollars for the 4 of us which we felt was pretty reasonable. The cost included admission to Stonehenge and Old Sarum. We caught this tour at the Salisbury Train Station.
The bus was very new, clean, and even had USB ports in the seats. They gave you free earbuds to keep and had a prerecorded commentary to listen to.
It turned out to be a beautiful day and we enjoyed the English countryside on the way to Salisbury.
We got off the bus at the first stop, Stonehenge, at 12:40PM. We had been to Stonehenge before, and despite the fact we were not impressed last time, we chose to go back because it was relatively easy to see. When we last saw it, it was right next to the motorway, and you walked under the motorway to get to Stonehenge. It only took at most 25-30 minutes to see it, so we thought it would be an easy child friendly activity.
We were shocked to find out that it was now totally different. There was now an actual visitor center that magically appeared since 2012, which was the last time we were there. Also, Stonehenge is no longer visible from the visitor center. Stonehenge is now a good two miles from the visitor center. You now have to take a shuttle. This requires waiting in a very long line. Thankfully, the lined was very fast moving and only took about 10 minutes.
Our assumption is that they increased the distance of Stonehenge from the parking area so people could not just see it from the parking lot and not pay admission. There is a portable audio commentary provided, but we opted not to listen to it as our children would likely either lose the units or break them.
Wherever we go, whatever we do… our kids will find rocks. They will search them out, and will want to play with them… endlessly.
We arrived at Stonehenge after a brief shuttle ride and took some a couple quick pictures, because that’s all you can really do there.
We really were not impressed the first time and we were even less impressed the second time. Had we known it was gonna require a shuttle and be a much more elaborate experience to get to Stonehenge we would have skipped it. Since we were already there, we felt obligated to take the kids to see it. After a short line we took the shuttle back.
We caught the HOHO bus at 1:40PM just as it arrived so we did not have to wait. We drove through some more of the beautiful English Countryside.
We hopped off the bus at the Salisbury City Center, hungry, as it was past 2PM, which was well past our lunch time. We chose to eat at The Ox Row Inn, which was a cute little English pub with outdoor seating.
While we were waiting for our food our kids decided to play. Zack decided to “Be Papa” and style Ramon’s sunglasses.
The kids decided play “Superheroes” in the middle of the square.
Apparently, that got old so “Hide and Seek” was next up. Lucy really needs to up her hiding game. Zack found her in record time.
We order a burger and some ribs and split it among the four of us. Both were very good and taste very similar to what you would find in a chain restaurant in the United States. The cost was 40 USD with no drinks which was a bargain for England.
After lunch we walked around Salisbury. It was the quintessential small English town.
We saw an old school Red British phone booth, so of course we had to act like tourists and take a picture.
It was a short walk to the Salisbury Cathedral. The cathedral and surrounding area were absolutely beautiful. It reminded us of the University of Notre Dame, our college campus.
We went inside and it was just as beautiful inside as it was outside.
They several exhibits inside and Zack got to learn about how they built the cathedral.
Zack and Lucy were impressed by the sheer size of the cathedral.
The architecture was incredible, and Ramon had a field day taking pictures. We will spare you from the hundreds of photos he took. You can thank me later.
We finished up at the Cathedral and started our 15 minute walk to the train station to catch our train back to Southampton as there are no Ubers from Salisbury to Southampton. On the way back we saw these houses that for the Harry Potter fans out there, were incredibly reminiscent of the house Harry Potter lived in.
We arrived at the train station around 5PM and bought our tickets. The tickets were only $24 dollars for all four of us. There are trains that run every thirty minutes, and sadly we just missed the most recent train. And of course the next one was 15 minutes late, so we ended up with a 45 minute wait.
The train ride was pretty quick and only took half an hour with two stops on the way.
We arrived at the train station, and originally we were going to just walk 20 minutes back to the ship. However, after a long day of walking, we chose to just hire an Uber to drive us from the train station to the ship. The Uber was thankfully only $4 USD. It was $4 USD well spent. We arrived at the ship at about 6:30PM with an hour to spare before all aboard.
We fed the kids at Garden Cafe and they both had mac and cheese and some fries. We then dropped them off at the Splash Academy. We went to Shanghai for my birthday dinner and since there was a 30 min wait we decided to have a drink at Mixx. After we got a seat at Shanghai, we eventually ate our favorite item, potstickers. Kendall had some vegetable fried rice and Ramon had the Singapore noodles again.
After dinner we went to Howl at the Moon the dueling piano bar on board. Ramon told the musicians it was my birthday, so I got to go on stage, and they sang Happy Birthday to me. It was a lot of fun.
Afterwards, we went to the Newlywed, Not So Newlywed game, one of our favorite activities on any cruise. We tried to get on stage, but sadly we were not cool enough. We met a super sweet newlywed couple from New York State on their honeymoon, and they did get on stage. They were hilarious and ton of fun to watch.
It was a fun time as always. Toward the end of the show, we got a call from Splash Academy that the kids were hungry. We picked them up and went to O’sheehans. We ate some fajitas, a burger, some wings, and ice cream. Having a 24/7 Complimentary eatery that has a more varied menu than just pizza and finger sandwiches is so handy. It was tasty as always. After that we called it a night, and went to bed. Tomorrow we are at sea so we can sleep as long as we want. Yay!
Read about our next day here.
If you enjoyed this live blog feel free to read our previous live blogs: