Frequently Asked Questions
- Tell me why I should take a cruise on Shieldhall
Shieldhall is the largest operational steam ship in Europe, possibly in the world, so you can experience the travel of a bygone age, one know by many generations up to about 30 years ago. She provides a unique experience of the conditions of that time and the crew will always explain all you need to know. On our cruises, we often view the large new cruise ships as they depart from Southampton, many of our cruises in late afternoon are designed to see these huge ships.
Our passengers frequently tell us they have had a truly memorable day with us, and many travel on our cruises time after time. See their comments on our website and on social media sites.
- Where is the ship berthed?
She is normally at berth 48 of Southampton OId (Eastern) Docks, from where she will depart and return on her cruises.
- How do I get to the ship?
Depending on where you are travelling from and also where the ship is located on the day of your excursion, please visit www.ss-shieldhall.co.uk/find_us.
If the ship is at berth 48 on your sailing date and you are travelling from Southampton Central train station to the ship, you can use the QuayConnect service.
The QuayConnect service runs between the station (south side) and Town Quay - this is free for rail ticket holders (£1 otherwise). See www.redfunnel.co.uk/travel-connections/bus-connections/citylink/ for more info.
- Can I park there?
Free parking will be available just inside the entrance to Dock Gate 4. If you have purchased tickets for a trip please have them ready when you pass through the security gate, and proceed STRAIGHT ACROSS at the roundabout, before turning IMMEDIATELY RIGHT into the Ocean Gate Office Car Park.
Once parked, you may walk along the right hand side of the Ocean Terminal building to Berth 48 where you will be greeted by the Shieldhall Purser. It is an approx. x 5 mins walk from car park to ship.
For members of parties who are less able on their feet, it is possible to drop passengers at the Shieldhall before returning to park.
- Is the ship always at berth 48?
When operating from Southampton on cruise days, yes, she is. However, there is one week, in August, when she goes to Poole and when there she will depart from, and return to, Poole Quay. There is a public (paid) car park close by. For other times of the year please visit our "Find Us" page.
But always see the website for the latest information about all sailings, as sometimes the ship needs to move berths for operational reasons, and we sometimes need to alter the times of departure and return.
- Will you let me know if there are any changes to a planned cruise?
If you supplied an E mail address, or a phone number when booking, then we will endeavour to contact you when we know of any changes. This can be at quite short notice. We recommend you visit the Shieldhall website www.ss-shieldhall.co.uk in the days leading up to your cruise to check latest cruise information.
- What food and drink will be available?
The ship has a licensed bar and a galley.
The bar sells a wide range of alcoholic drinks (including a range of “Titanic” beers), soft drinks, tea and coffee and ice cream.
The galley will produce, for sale, a range of hot and cold food appropriate to the time of a cruise and the length of that cruise.
- Are there toilets aboard?
There are Mens and Ladies toilets (called “heads” in nautical parlance), located on the main (lower) deck. The Ladies is located on the starboard side, midship area, the Gents on the opposite (port) side, also midship area.
“Starboard” = right hand side viewed from aft.
“Port” – left hand side viewed from aft.
- Are there facilities for children?
We have a small range of activities for children of various ages including a Shieldhall Passport which can be followed around the ship – it’s a great way for children to learn about Shieldhall’s operation. Look out for special activities on board, and cruises especially for families, eg the annual Vikings Cruise.
- When can we board the ship for our cruise?
We open the gangway for boarding one hour before departure, and we ask passengers to be aboard 15 minutes before departure.
- What facilities exist for disabled passengers?
Shieldhall is an elderly vessel, built for the conditions of the time and built to do work. Therefore, she does have very steep stairs, and high cills (approximately 12 inches, 300mm) on entrance doors. Thus, people in wheelchairs can experience some difficulty when aboard. Our boarding process usually takes place onto the upper (boat) deck, depending on the state of the tides at the time, and that deck does not have any toilets. Our main gangway does allow a wheelchair to be pushed along it, and there are usually crew available to help.
However, if in any doubt, please do either ask further questions or, better still, come and visit us to see for yourselves what facilities exist. There are crew aboard every Wednesday and Saturday to advise you.
- Is there shelter from the weather?
We have a saloon, which can accommodate approximately 75 passengers, and we have an awning on the boat deck, which can accommodate a similar number of passengers. There are other covered areas on the ship, so everyone can shelter if need be.
In fine weather, there are extensive seating areas on the main and boat decks.
- What can I see on board?
We encourage passengers to go down into the engine room, where the main steam engines can be seen at work, and where the crew will be pleased to answer any questions.
We also encourage passengers to visit the bridge where they can see how the ship is operated, and can ask any questions of the captain and bridge crew.
There are approximately 20 other steam engines around the ship which can be seen working. A helpful orientation map will be given to passengers on boarding the ship. For more info visit the ship pages
- Will I feel sea-sick onboard?
This is very unlikely. Shieldhall usually stays in calm waters and, in any case, is very steady and quiet when underway. She is a remarkably stable ship.
- How is the ship propelled?
She has twin 800 HP triple expansion steam engines, powered by twin oil fired boilers, providing steam at up to 180 psi. Each engine drives a propeller.
- What is the speed of the ship?
She is capable of travelling at a speed of approximately 12 knots in still water, but we hardly ever travel at that speed, due to the cost of fuel to do so.
- Do you have a commentary during the cruises?
Yes, we do, and this will provide details of the sights seen as we pass by, and other interesting and relevant facts. The areas we operate in have a great many things of interest, and we ensure that we inform passengers of these.
- Do you have a shop on-board?
Yes, we do, located on the boat deck, port side, immediately under the bridge. It sells a wide range of items relevant to shipboard activities, to the area we are in, postcards, childrens items, clothing, etc. The shop is open during every cruise.
- Where do you go on a cruise?
The shorter cruises from Southampton (2 or 3 hours) generally travel around the docks (to see the ships in port, including any cruise ships which are in that day) and travel down Southampton Water towards the Solent and the Isle of Wight.
Longer cruises are usually more specific in their itinerary, full details of each of these are on our website.
- What should I wear?
This depends on the weather. It is usually colder out on the water than ashore, so do bring something to cope with that. But, on a sunny day, the sun can be very strong, so do bring hats,sun cream etc.
- Do you accommodate groups?
Yes, we certainly can, and all member of the group, of 10 or more participants, get a 10% discount on their ticket price (other than for x 2 hr dock cruises).
- Is it safe for toddlers?
Generally, yes, but they do need to be watched by the parents. Some areas of the ship will be more appropriate than others.
- Can we bring a baby?
Yes, you can, and we have nappy changing facilities in the ladies heads.
- If I come with my fiancée, can the captain marry us?
Regrettably not - no British registered ship can do this now.
We can, however, provide you with a unique venue for your wedding reception, either with the ship alongside its berth, or you can charter her for your special cruise.
- Can you provide for a special occasion?
If you tell us, yes, we generally can, and we will be pleased to discuss your special requirements. We do frequently, for example, have some-one on board whose birthday it is, and then there can be a cake, flowers, etc, and a trip to the bridge to get the captain to sign a card, or whatever is agreed. We can keep such arrangements a secret from the person if you want, and can provide for photographs of the event.
Just ask us.
- What happens if a cruise is cancelled?
If we need to cancel a cruise (as happens very occasionally in the case of bad weather) ticket holders will be informed and given a refund.
- Can Shieldhall be chartered?
SS Shieldhall is available for charter for up to x 200 persons – if you are interested in this possibility, please contact the ticket master in the first instance at email@example.com or call 0844 357 2329
- Can I bring food or drink aboard the Shieldhall?
We allow picnics on the Shieldhall but request that no alcoholic drinks be brought aboard. The Shieldhall has a fully licensed bar and serves hot and cold food and snacks on all cruises.
- Where else can I visit in Southampton?
There is plenty of things to keep you occupied whilst on your visit to Southampton. Click here to view the 2017 Southampton Pocket Guide.
- Is someone from the Shieldhall available to give a talk to my group?
Yes, we have volunteers who would be delighted to give a talk on Shieldhall and her history. Please contact the Ticket Master in the first instance at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0844 357 2329