Princess Cruise Lines Transfers – Is it Worth Letting Your Cruise Line Shuttle You?

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a large cruise ship in the water

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Paying for Princess Cruise Lines Transfer service can be a convenient way to navigate what can sometimes be a complicated and stressful connection between the airport, the ship and vice versa.

My family has used Princess Transfers many times in different ports and found it very reliable. Being greeted at the airport, letting them take our luggage and being bused to the ship eliminates a list of potential complications that can start our cruise on a negative note.

a parking lot with cars and buildings

However, we recently sailed out of Southampton England on an amazing cruise to see the Northern Lights. The challenge was that the port is not near any international airport. We chose to fly into London Heathrow (LHR). But to find open Delta One (business class) seats using Delta SkyMiles plus an elite upgrade certificate, we had to arrive 2 days prior to the cruise.

a large ferris wheel lit up at night

Arriving early is always smart before a cruise and my wife and I both had Free Night certificates from our Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Cards so we chose the Conrad in central London. This really is an amazing location and property but it put us yet another hour further from the cruise port.

We were pleased to see that in addition to a transfer from LHR, Princess also offered an option from the Victoria Coach Station, less than a mile from the Conrad. So, we signed up and were told the trip would be about 2 hours. Perfect!

Waiting for a cab in the lobby we noticed some others putting Princess luggage tags on their suitcases and asked if they were taking the Princess Transfer as well. They told us ‘No, we’re taking the train.’ More about them later.

a group of people in a building

We soon arrived at the Coach Station at the designated time, and that is when the waiting began. They of course have you arrive early, but to make a long story short, it was over 2 hours before the bus pulled out of the station. Next, as you may have guessed, we quickly got bogged down in London traffic.

2 ½ hours later, mid-afternoon we arrived at our ship. Well over 5 hours from when we left the hotel.

This was not the relaxing way to start our cruise we had planned.

The next day, we bumped into our new friends from the hotel. I asked about their journey to the ship. They smiled and told us the train took only about an hour, and then it was a short taxi ride to the ship. They were among the first to board the ship.

a sign with a qr code

At the end of the cruise, we were flying home the same day, and thankfully this time the bus departed on time, and was at the airport in only an hour. This allowed us to enjoy the Virgin Atlantic Lounge (a perk when flying Delta One) for a couple of hours before our flight home.

Bottom line: When we sail again out of Southampton we will likely take the train rather than deal with a bus in London traffic. But for those who don’t want to deal with luggage on the train etc., it would still be simpler to make use of Princess Transfers albeit taking significantly longer. – MW

 

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5 COMMENTS

  1. We have cruised out of Southampton many times with Princess. We always use their transfers and have always been pleased with the process. We stay at one of the LHR airport hotels (usually the Hilton at T4). The morning of the transfer, we go over to T3 and use their transfer as if we had just flown in. It works very well, and we will continue to do it this way. Thanks for your article.

  2. I’m surprised that frequent cruisers still heavily rely on cruise line transfers. My experience is that taking a cab, uber, or pre-arranged scheduled car is almost always less expensive and more convenient especially from a arrive-day-before hotel. And for Southampton, the train is a great alternative.

    • @dave – Jumping in for Mike here, while your examples are most times cheaper they do not offer the assurance that the cruise line will look after you and get you to the ship if things go sideways. I personally have only used NCLs ship sponsored transfer once but it was due to non-refundable onboard credits that I had to burn so it was in fact the cheapest option i.e. free!

  3. When beginning a cruise from a port I’m unfamiliar with, or one that is quite a distance from my arrival airport/hotel, booking the cruiseline’s transfers is a no-brainer. The peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ll board the ship without stress is huge in my mind. Once you have some experience, you can make all kinds of different arrangements. I think our limo from Southampton to LHR from Queen Victoria was about a hundred pounds, and well worth it for the comfort. My travel theory is that if you spend $100 on a limo, then you don’t spend $100 on a dinner. So it all works out well … the older I get, the more I appreciate convenience and lack of stress. Our Med cruise next fall finishes in Trieste (unless Venice relaxes its restrictions) and I’d much rather take the cruiseline shuttle to an airport than try to plan it out myself.

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