Thames River cruise tours provide some of the most unique and fascinating ways to explore the history of this ancient city and its incomparable landmarks. A London River cruise is also one of the easiest and pleasant methods of sightseeing. All you have to do is show up at the pier, board your boat, and then sit back and enjoy. You can find a London river tour to suit just about any budget, taste, and time consideration.
A simple sightseeing Thames River cruise is relatively inexpensive in this city that routinely ranks among the most expensive to visit in the world. Starting price for the shortest tours is as low as about $10 to $15. The longer the cruise and the more modern and deluxe the vessel, the more expensive the ticket.
Probably the most unusual London river cruise is called the London Duck Tour, a kind of franchise that also operates Charles River cruises in Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts. These tours have become popular worldwide, especially in the United States, where you can find them from Philadelphia to San Francisco. A duck is a World War II an amphibious vehicle that has wheels to drive on roads, but also splash down in the water as a boat. It was officially code-named the DUKW, and was a key vehicle used in the Normandy invasion.
This kind of London river tour boards at Chichleley Street in Waterloo (behind the London Eye). The Duck then drives on surface streets south to the mysterious MI6 building where it enters the Thames River, and makes its way north past the Tate Britain Museum, Victoria Tower Gardens and the Victoria Jewel Tower, the Houses of Parliament, the London Aquarium, the Tate Modern Museum, and back to the Eye. This is a typical Thames River cruise route, taking approximately one hour, and is done by most of the boat operators who offer river cruises. The longest cruises take about three hours, and there are hop-on-hop-off cruises, where you can get off at select attractions and reboard when you’re ready to move on.
The majority of the other kinds of vessels used for a London river cruise are sleek, modern boats with comfortable seats. They usually have an enclosed area with large picture windows as well as an open top deck with bench type seating. Some have snack areas and a bar. Some are actually floating restaurants and discos, providing fine dining and nightlife. There are dinner cruises, afternoon cruises that serve the traditional high tea with finger sandwiches and cream cakes, and sunset cocktail cruises. There are even London Showboat cruises that offer sightseeing, dinner, and live entertainment from one of the West End theater shows.
A London river tour is also a perfect way to enjoy certain special events and holidays. The annual Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race in July is the oldest rowing race in the world. It began in 1715 when Irish comedian and theater manager, Thomas Doggett couldn’t find a ride home after the play. He found a Thames Waterman to row him home to Chelsea and funded the race in gratitude for the lift. The race has been run every year ever since, and is one of London’s most popular events. Sightseeing cruises serving lunch and cocktails follow the skulls as they make their way up the Thames. London celebrates numerous holidays and occasions with grand firework displays over the river. Popular times include Guy Fawkes Day in November and New Year celebrations. Other special events deserving of fireworks include the opening of the London Eye and the 2012 Olympics.
For one way cruises New York to London you need to look to the seaports of Liverpool and Southampton, where the transatlantic cruise ships embark and disembark. For regional North Sea cruises visiting the Scandinavian countries (particularly the fjords of Norway), St. Petersburg in Russia, and France and the Netherlands on the continent, you would use the Tilbury Cruise Port. This is located on the Thames River about 25 miles east of London.