We’ve visited London more than thirty times in the past decade, both for work and pleasure. Yet, we’ve never been on the river Thames and experienced the city by boat – that was until recently.
City Cruises offers the best river cruise along the river Thames in London with a variety of different sailings depending on your preferences and budget. These include everything from afternoon tea and dinner through to the more traditional hop-on, hop-off services.
We recently had the pleasure of going on a City Cruise hop-on, hop-off service along the river Thames and were blown away by how convenient the service was (even with a baby) and the unique photo opportunities we had.
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What Type Of Thames Cruises Are Available?
City Cruises operate a number of different cruises along the river Thames depending on your budget and preferences. These include;
This is the most popular cruise offered by City Cruises and allows you to select your departure pier and destination pier as well as your sailing date and time.
City Cruises has four piers;
- Westminster Pier
- Tower Pier
- London Eye Pier
To maximise your experience we’d highly recommend boarding at either Westminster Pier or London Eye Pier and sailing along the Thames to Greenwich.
The total sailing time is around 1 hour 20 minutes and includes incredible views of the London Eye, Big Ben, London Bridge, OXO Tower, The Shard and Tower Bridge.
24h Hop-On Hop-Off
We personally opted for the 24h hop-on hop-off river Thames cruise during our most recent visit to London since this provided a fantastic level of flexibility.
With this pass you’re able to join the boat tour at any of the four piers;
- Westminster Pier
- Tower Pier
- London Eye Pier
Meanwhile, you can take your first trip at any time during the day and take as many trips as you like until the boats stop operating in the evening.
Then when the boats resume operations on the next day you will then have until the same time to continue using the ticket.
This was perfect since we were travelling with our baby Oliver (10 months at the time) and wanted to be able to adjust our schedule based on his needs on the day.
Afternoon Tea Cruise
If you’re looking for a traditional British experience during your trip to London then consider enhancing your cruise along the river Thames with afternoon tea.
This City Cruise includes a selection of sandwiches, mini pastries and scones with clotted cream and jam as well as unlimited tea and coffee with specialist menus available for those with dietary requirements.
This cruise departs from the Tower Millennium Pier and a pre-selected time and sails along the river Thames for a couple of hours providing you with unrivalled views of London’s riverside landmarks.
Consider combining the incredibly relaxing sightseeing experience of a river Thames cruise with a two-course lunch on this fantastic City Cruises lunch cruise.
On this 1 hour 45 minute long sailing along the river Thames, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy both some delicious food and unrivalled views across London’s riverside landmarks.
For those with dietary requirements vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free meals are available. However, they must be requested in advance.
On this three-hour cruise along the river Thames enjoy incredible views of the city as night falls while dining on a delicious three-course meal.
Guests on this cruise enjoy a welcome drink on arrival as well as a live performer and dancing until late.
This cruise is ideal for those celebrating something special or wanting to experience the Illuminated River art project.
How Much Does A Thames Cruise Cost?
The cost of a cruise along the river Thames with City Cruises depends on a number of factors including;
- The specific cruise you’re looking to take
- The date you travel
- Who you’re travelling with
For those travelling to London on a budget, the best value-for-money cruise is either the hop-on hop-off cruise or the sightseeing cruise.
For those travelling with children, family tickets are also available (on the hop-on hop-off and sightseeing cruises only) and include up to two adults and three children.
How Long Does A Thames Cruise Last?
How long your cruise along the river Thames lasts depends on the ticket type you purchase.
A sightseeing cruise, lunch cruise, afternoon tea cruise, dinner cruise and evening cruise all have a pre-set sailing duration.
However, with a hop-on hop-off cruise you’re able to spend as little or as long as you like sailing along the river Thames during the 24 hours.
While the exact sailing times vary depending on a range of circumstances, cruises generally leave the majority of piers every 30 minutes between 10am and 4.30pm.
Is A Thames Cruise Suitable For Babies, Toddlers & Children?
We took our baby Oliver (aged 10 months) with us on this City Cruise along the river Thames and were incredibly impressed by the quality and services onboard.
Step-free access is available when boarding and disembarking which makes the entire process incredibly easy and stress-free.
Babies, toddlers and children are permitted both upstairs and downstairs on the ship. However, pushchairs / strollers must remain downstairs.
Onboard you’ll find a spacious and clean baby changing area alongside regular and accessible toilet facilities.
If you’re looking to head upstairs on the cruise with your little one then consider sitting at the back by the stairs since there’s significantly more space available here – just be sure to monitor your child at all times.
What Should You Wear On A Thames Cruise?
What you wear on a City Cruise along the river Thames is going to be dependent on two factors;
- The cruise you’re on
- The weather
The dress code for the vast majority of daytime sailings (including hop-on hop-off, sightseeing and afternoon tea) is casual. Meanwhile, the dress code for evening sailings is smart casual.
Of course, how you tailor this will depend on the weather. If you’re visiting London in the spring or summertime then sunglasses, a sunhat and a light jacket will be essential.
Meanwhile, if you’re visiting London in the winter or fall months then you’ll want to consider wearing layers – especially since it’s often colder with the breeze on the water.
Disclaimer: This experience was kindly gifted to us by City Cruises in return for an honest and open review – and we both left super impressed wishing we’d found out about the experience sooner (I mean the incredible photo ops speak for themselves!)