Southampton is the largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated 75 miles (121 km) south-west of London and 19 miles (31 km) north-west of Portsmouth. It lies at the northernmost point of Southampton Water at the confluence of the River Test and River Itchen, with the River Hamble joining to the south of the urban area. The local council is Southampton City Council, which is a unitary authority. The city represents the core of the Greater Southampton region.
Southampton has several areas of interest, though much of its historic medieval character was destroyed during World War II. In 1620, the Mayflower left from just outside the existing city walls, and the waterfront recalls this historic voyage. From Mayflower Park, you can enjoy watching the container ships pass en route to and from the freight terminal beyond the Western Docks, cruise ships departing from three separate locations, and excursion boats and cross-harbor ferries flitting around the port. Today, it is a modern shopping destination, business center and university town (the University of Southampton is a major British research university; among its well-known alumni is QM2 designer Stephen Payne with a large commercial port in addition to its year-round cruise operations.
The city has a particular connection to Cunard Line and their fleet of ships. This was particularly evident on 11 November 2008 when the Cunard liner RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 departed the city for the final time amid a spectacular fireworks display after a full day of celebrations. Cunard ships are regularly launched in the city, for example Queen Victoria was named by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall in December 2007, and the Queen named Queen Elizabeth in the city during October 2011. The Duchess of Cambridge performed the naming ceremony of Royal Princess on 13 June 2013.
The importance of Southampton to the cruise industry was indicated by P&O Cruises’s 175th anniversary celebrations, which included all seven of the company’s liners visiting Southampton in a single day. Adonia, Arcadia, Aurora, Azura, Oceana, Oriana and Ventura all left the city in a procession on 3 July 2012.