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When we decided to travel by train to Southampton for our recent cruise on Arcadia we also decided to use the Baggage Handling Company (BHC from now on) to transport one large bag to Southampton, especially once it transpired that our train journey would be via London and would therefore involve a transfer from St Pancras to Waterloo. I mentioned in some earlier posts that we would be using them and there were some expressions of interest in how it went with them, so here’s a summary.

I booked the service on-line. As far as I can remember this was easy and painless. It included making the payment for a round trip – £30 each way for one bag, plus 20% VAT, so £72 altogether. I recall that we had to give either the cruise reference or our booking reference or both when we booked. A couple of days after booking we received a letter from them containing confirmation of the booking, some instructions, and a label and an security seal to attach to the bag. The letter said that the collection date (from us) would be confirmed nearer the time, but as it happened I had to arrange other trips just before Christmas and needed to get this date firmly decided, so I called them some time in late November (IIRC) to agree a date. That was no problem for them, and a definite pickup date and time to suit me was decided over the phone.

The pickup was done by a courier company – APC – and they arrived just before midday on the day in question. We’d got the bag ready, the courier driver picked it up, and off it went. I can’t remember now if I got a receipt for it – maybe not. I also can’t remember if there was any tracking; possibly not.

When we embarked on Arcadia we found that the crew were still loading bags onto the ship, or at least still shuffling them around, and there were piles of bags by each of the lift areas – distribution to the cabins hadn’t yet happened. We had a quick look by the lifts nearest us and there was our bag, so the essential requirement – that it should be delivered to the ship on time – was successfully met.

We’d been advised in the original letter from them that when we disembarked we would find their representative at the outside door of the Ocean Terminal from 8am onwards. In the event he was a bit late – 8:20, perhaps – but when he did arrive he was very friendly and helpful. He took the reloaded bag from us, and told us that it would be delivered to our home on Tuesday (today) and that he would be doing the delivery. I gathered that he was an actual TBHC employee, and not a courier.

Today we received a phone call at about 08:10 from this chap to tell us that he was about 30 minutes or so away, and would it be OK for us to take delivery of the bag that early? Yes, we said, and he duly arrived about 30 minutes later with the bag which was intact and had everything in it. Also it was still locked, using the small padlock that Val uses for these things. I noted that he was in a small van with a BHC logo on it, and I asked him about using couriers for the pickup. He replied that it all depended on what availability they had for their own people – in this case, he was free to do the return himself.

So that’s it, really – the Baggage Handling Company did exactly what they said they would do and we have no complaints at all. It seems like a good service. It’s obviously not the cheapest – two bags round trip would be nearly £150 – and I don’t think we would use them if we were driving to Southampton in the car. However, if you were using trains to get to Southampton, or even if you were using the coach but had an awkward journey to the pickup point, then it might be worthwhile.

13 Responses to “Using the Baggage Handling Company”

  1. Carol says:

    Interesting reading. We are traveling by train but we are going to Gatwick to fly to Barbados to meet Ventura and sailing back to Southampton. I wonder if they’d take our luggage to the airport.

    • Tom says:

      Worth a call, I would have thought. The question might be, is there somewhere they can deliver the bag to at Gatwick? There might be….

  2. Malcolm Oliver says:

    Tom, I’d be scared that they would not arrive! I think I might just struggle on the train for £150. However it does sound a useful service.

    • Tom says:

      We thought we’d try it. These days there is so little luggage room on the trains, usually you end up with bags all over the vestibules at the ends of carriages, or else people try to stick them in the aisles – which doesn’t work when the refreshment trolley comes through the train. So in our view, big bags on trains don’t work.

  3. Philip Hobson says:

    Just booked this service as I will be travelling on train. Thanks for the blog as it has answered some niggling questions, like are they reliable.

    Worked out that I can save a few pounds by not having to get taxis (local transport from home to station, walk from Southampton to Grand Harbour Hotel and GHH to Terminal and terminal to station). That will amount to about £30 to £40 so not bad value when you knock that off the £72 for 1 case 😉

  4. George Millar says:

    My wife and I have used the company (TBHC) a few times in the last few years with no problems, in fact they do exactly what it says on the tin. Only one criticism, they did not deliver to Harwich when we sailed from there,however they may do so now. We are booked on a cruise from Barcelona next year and if they can deliver to there I will certainly use them. It is a great service for us as pensioners and I can’t praise them enough.

  5. Fay says:

    Unfortunately our experience was not as good. Yes the whole booking process was smooth and convenient it was the APC driver who was the problem. He turned up late and because he had to ring our bell twice in quick succession without giving time to get to the door proceeded to walk back to his van. We shouted at him and he came back with a rude attitude saying he did not have to wait for us but we should be waiting for him. He then said he would not carry the bags to the van and said if we wanted them in then we will have to take them in. We said that we did not appreciate his attitude at which point he said he could not care less and said that he was refusing to take our bags as we were rude. He then left and we were left with our bags. We called the company who said that they did not control the drivers and said that if we still wanted our bags taken then we would have to take them ourselves to the local depot. We had no choice as we were also taking parents bags and them in our car. Bloody shambles. To be honest I was pleasantly surprised when the bags arrived in the ship. When we disembarked the very pleasant man said when our bags would arrive and we said we may be at work and he said no problem a card will be posted as proof they attempted to deliver and we can re arrange. BUT no such thing happened and by mid week no bags or card so contacted company who said they had attempted to deliver and bags on way back to Southampton! After a heated conversation it was agreed they would be sent back to our local depot and WE would once again have to go there and pick them up. We will not be using them again and gave emailed them and PandO as they are a preferred supplier.

    • Tom Burke says:


      Thanks for the comment. That’s a dreadful experience. Have you had any feedback/reply from P&O and/or The Baggage Handling Company?

  6. Mrs Clark says:

    We used this company for our last cruise and I can’t praise them enough. Very efficient. I have 2-3 friends that have used this company over the years and wouldn’t cruise without them now. I’m very surprised when I see bad stuff about them.
    I would recommended them to anyone cruising. Don’t let the odd bad comment sway your decision.
    Keep up the hard work. We will be booking again for our cruise in May 2016

  7. Hayley Attwell says:

    It’s good to read all the comments. We are looking to book this service for a cruise from Southampton at the end of June, so I will let you know how it goes..

    • Tom Burke says:


      Many thanks for the comment. To be honest it’s been a few years since we used this service, so it would be good to get an update.

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