About us: A multigenerational group consisting of five women (my senior mom, older sister and her college-aged daughter, my wife and seven-year-old daughter) and one vastly outnumbered 40-something man.
My immediate family arrived a day prior from Miami to help get acclimated. We stayed at the Sofitel in Heathrow T5. The others flew in from New York City/JFK the morning of the cruise. A note about the hotel: It was fine, got it on a decent pre-paid rate, and we had easy access to dining options within the airport. Didn’t want to bother with going into London, we planned a few days at the backend of the trip post cruise and I’ve been before. But, if you fly into T-3, like we did, you have to take the Heathrow Express train to get to it (and subsequently back the following morning to meet the others and out transfers). Not difficult, and no cost associated with it, but it’s a little time consuming and there’s some long walking involved (i.e., daughter: Are we theeeeere yet??? My feeeeet hurt!!).
Transfers/Embarkation: We reserved them through Princess, and while more expensive then a third party coach, we didn’t want to mess around on day one. It’s an approximately two-hour drive through some nice villages like Winchester, and you arrive at Southampton. Boarding was smooth, no issues, the whole process maybe took 45 minutes. Got to our cabins (three in a row port side on Caribe deck), and had our steward open the dividers on the balconies and it was time to relax. We were jet-lagging harder than usual and I developed a bit of a 24-hour bug. It played a role for the first two days unfortunately.