Thames City Cruise Tour: Seeing London Without the Crowds

Posted: March 12, 2014


It’s probably fair to say that in the monotonous cycle of ‘work, sleep, work, sleep’ it’s sometimes easy to forget the things that make this capital such an amazing place to be. In the four years I’ve lived here I’ve never really done any of the big attractions, and the closest I’ve come to sightseeing is catching a quick glimpse of Big Ben on the train home on the odd occasion that I’m not nodding off . So when I was offered the chance to take a City Cruise tour down the Thames, it’s fair to say I was more than a little excited.

We started the tour in Greenwich, and with the Cutty Sark looming over us it seemed a good place to start to find our sea legs, well...river legs. The tour sets off from just outside the university campus which, if you’re a bit of a film fan you may recognise from ‘Thor 2 - The Dark World (or perhaps not- it looks pretty different when Malekith isn’t smashing it to pieces).

As the sun was shining we decided to try out the open air top deck once aboard. There is also an inside viewing area for more drizzly days with snacks and drinks available, which, as the full tour takes about an hour and we didn’t eat beforehand, was a bit of a lifesaver.

Starting the tour from Greenwich was great and our lovely tour guide who my boyfriend pointed out was more cockney than a Victorian chimney sweep, showed us all the old wharfs and docks without it feeling too much like a history lesson. Apparently that area of London is also known as the ‘Manhattan of London’, and after twenty minutes of lusting after all the fancy waterside apartment buildings it was easy to see why.

After a brief stop off by Tower Bridge we had a new tour guide Ben who was brilliant and gave us loads of fantastic quirky insights into some of the most famous landmarks. For example did you know there was once a private zoo in the Tower of London? And that in the 1950’s a bus driver jumped a bus full of passengers over the rising platforms of tower bridge? I’m a bit of a nerd so really enjoyed this part of the cruise and now feel fully equipped for an appearance on Mastermind with London as my specialist subject, I reckon I could ace it.

After cruising past the shard and the Tate Modern gallery (which Ben was not a fan off, an opinion it seemed that was shared with the majority of the passengers!) we ended the tour between the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament. The Eye looked particularly awesome, I mean, it’s a pretty imposing thing anyway and you can’t really miss it, but when you’re floating underneath its shadow you kind of develop a whole new appreciation of it.

If you’re looking for a new way to see London, or just fancy avoiding the tube for a more peaceful journey through the capital I really recommend giving a city cruise a go.

You can find rates, timetables & buy tickets for City Cruises here.

Read more posts by Zenya here and follow her on twitter @zenyasmith