I'm a trainee journalist living in London. A personal blog is forthcoming.
Published November 11th 2012
Tour the Thames in style
The view of London from the Thames is a must-see for locals and tourists alike. The city looks different from the water. I had never really considered what an eclectic selection of architecture our fair Capital is comprised of until I saw it lined up along the riverbank.
There are quite a few options for river travel but the best way I've found is to do it in style, with a luxurious three-course meal aboard the lush ships of Bateaux London Cruises.
My first Bateaux experience was a lunch-time cruise that left the Embankment pier at 13:00, chugging its way down to Canary Wharf and back while we enjoyed a lovely meal of Smoked and Poached Salmon Roulade, Chicken en Croute and Vanilla Pannacotta.
The food was excellent and the service even better. I felt like I was aboard the Titanic as our attentive waiter predicted our every need (including, in a psychic kind of way, which after dinner drinks we might prefer), referred to us as "six beautiful ladies" and spent several minutes taking photos of our group to ensure we had a good one.
I found the choice of music a little strange as we sailed along to the tunes of Michael Bublé, but it wasn't loud enough to be intrusive and I soon forgot it was there, preferring instead to focus on the Received Pronunciation recording that gave us the facts and history about points of interest on the shore as we glided by. The recording was a little out of date, missing out new buildings such as The Shard, but gave a lot of interesting information about Tower Bridge, The London Eye, The Tower of London, Parliament and more.
There are also plenty of other things to look at when the RP man takes his breaks. Luxury apartments overlooking the river, the museums, theatres and the aquarium along the South Bank and the pubs The Anchor and the Banker facing each other across the water, all give the accurate impression that London is full to the brim of exciting things to see and do and had me planning my next twenty tourist activities as we passed by.
When we got to Canary Wharf the boat gracefully turned itself around and we headed back, enjoying the view all over again and taking the opportunity to snap pictures of any sights we had missed on the way down. The courses were perfectly timed so that we were just finishing up our coffee when we pulled up alongside Embankment Pier at 14:30.
I was a little disappointed that the boat didn't travel as far as Greenwich, one of the more picturesque areas of London that would have afforded us a view of the Cutty Sark and the O2. There are different routes and timings for the different cruises available, so to experience everything it is probably best to book for dinner rather than lunch, where the piano is unveiled and the lights up and down the riverbank create a beautifully luxurious atmosphere in the darkness. The evening journeys go further down the river so there is more to see, and travelling by night has the added benefit of disguising the dirty colouring of the water.
As well as standard lunch and dinner options there are also Jazz themed voyages on Sundays, afternoon tea cruises with a wide selection of cakes and scones, and seasonal cruises for Christmas and New Year. The experience is reasonably priced and is a great day out for gifts and special occasions.