Friday, 24 March 2017

A river boat cruise through London #review

I have always wanted to take a boat trip along the Thames through London but for some reason, even though I live just about half an hour from the capital I have never actually done it.

I love watching the boats passing under the bridges and always imagined you would get a unique view of the city and all the famous and historical landmarks from the water- turns out I was right.

Thames River Services cruise from 365 Tickets UK

Using tickets from 365 Tickets UK we boarded our Thames River Services boat at Westminster Pier, a few steps away from Westminster tube station in the shadow of the Houses of Parliament just as Big Ben struck the hour.



There was just time to explore the two-storey vessel before our cruise started. We spotted a well stocked bar offering snacks, soups, hot beverages and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. I imagine a cool glass of white wine would be lovely on deck in the summer but on a chillier March day I preferred the liqueur coffee option!

I was glad to see there were toilets on board - my bladder is not known for resilience, especially when I am surrounded by water and splashing noises.

I was amazed how much room there was on the boat, both indoors and out. I looked longingly at the comfortable booths under cover with big windows allowing a great view out but there was no way my children were going to do anything but head upstairs and outside for what they considered the best seats in the house.

London Eye, Thames River Cruise #review

Setting off we didn't know where to look first. There was the London Eye towering above us, the Houses of Parliament and lots of people on bridges to wave at.

There is live onboard commentary which proved to be the making of the experience. Laugh? It was like a night at the comedy store. The patter from the crew member/commentator (pictured left)was entertaining, educational and interesting and frequently had us laughing out loud.

crew on Thames River Cruise boat

London boat trip

I felt a bit sorry for the foreign visitors missing out on the speaker's dry and witty sense of humour. Luckily there is multi-lingual commentary available via smartphones without using precious data offering up to 6 languages so they don't miss out on any sights along the way (although that commentary may possibly include fewer jokes about the inland revenue!)

We headed up to Greenwich, stopping briefly at St Katharine's dock near the Tower of London where we had spectacular views and the ideal photo opportunity right next to the spectacular Tower Bridge. I wonder how many selfies featuring that backdrop have been taken on that boat?

Tower Bridge, Thames River Cruise

In the summer Thames River Services run a trip up to the Thames barrier and back which my husband fancies but I was delighted to be finally visiting Greenwich, a place I have wanted to go to ever since I learned about Greenwich Mean time.

I managed to convey my enthusiasm to the children and we decided to head up to the famous Royal Observatory, but not before the children had throughly explored the (free) National Maritime Museum right next to where you get off the boat.

child in hat at National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

We also had a quick trip down the foot tunnel which passes under the Thames from Greenwich to the Isle of Dogs - we were thrilled to think boats were passing over our heads!

At the Observatory the children posed for the obligatory line picture where east meets west, then there was time for the first ice lolly of the year and to sit and take in the fabulous view over London.

Back to Greenwich pier and we boarded a different boat where we could sit once again outside but this time on the front of the boat. We were warned we might get wet as the river had become a bit choppy with the wind against us but Grumpy said the half hour cruise back towards Westminster was the highlight of his day as he got repeatedly splashed much to his delight.

Thames River Cruise, London



Once again there was live commentary and we arrived back where we started feeling much more knowledgeable about buildings we've seen loads of times but not really looked at before.

If you fancy cruising with Thames River Services you can get some really good discounts through 365 Tickets UK including one deal at the moment which offers 20% off a cruise and a trip on the London Eye.

The Hop On-Hop Off River Pass we used starts at just £5.75. The service runs very regularly with around 15 departures from Westminster Pier each day in summer.  In May Thames River Services will be launching their new boat, called the Thomas Doggett which I'm sure will be crewed by staff as lovely and helpful as the ones we met during our trip.

Thames River Cruise boat at Greenwich

Even in less than balmy weather the cruise was very enjoyable and relaxing. The children loved it and I think we will definitely repeat the experience in the summer. I'd catch an earlier boat and plan to spend longer Greenwich as there were so many lovely shops and places to eat and a  fabulous little market I'd love to explore.

All in all it we thought it was a wonderful experience at a very reasonable price.

Disclaimer: We received free tickets from 365 Tickets UK for the purpose of writing this honest review.


NB: We enjoyed our boat cruise just three days before the terrible incident in Westminster on March  22, 2017.  We love going into London. We refuse to be cowed by the threat of terrorism and hope that anyone considering visiting our gorgeous and historic capital city won't be either. Statistically, obesity is around 20,000 times more likely to kill you than a terrorist. 






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