Thames River cruises are distinct from both regular cruises and river cruises, making them cruise experiences unto themselves. Of course, they take place on the Thames River, which is the longest river in England, although it is primarily famous because it flows right through central London. (And it is in London where you will be taking a Thames River cruise.) Below is all you need to know about Thames River cruises and why a cruise down the Thames is unlike any other cruise you’ve likely taken.
Explaining an experience is often best done by reference to similar, but distinct, experiences, and this is certainly true of Thames River cruises. So, to begin, we should make it clear that a cruise on the Thames is similar to a regular (i.e., ocean) cruise only in that they both involve boats and water. Cruises on the ocean are almost always multiple-day affairs that involve extensive travel. As such, people do many things on the cruise ship itself (like eat, drink, and sleep), and they often see lands that are far from the port of departure. A Thames River cruise is completely different. They tend to be very quick, lasting no more than a few hours (and sometimes only 20 or so minutes), and they also only cover a small area, namely, London (or even a small part of central London). Thames River cruises are short, focused trips – they are by no means vacations in themselves, despite them being called “cruises.”
Thames River cruises are so short, in fact, that they aren’t even like many other types of river cruises. We’ve recently written about, for instance, Nile River cruises and Yangtze River cruises, and both of these types of river cruises can be fairly extensive. They often last many days, and much of their respective rivers are charted over the course of the cruise. Again, this is not true of Thames River cruises because a lot of them (the ones people are interested in taking, generally) only focus on London. And so, once more, Thames River cruises are really their own type of thing. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that cruises on the Thames are better or worse than any other type of cruise you might be inclined to take – they’re just different, and we don’t want the “cruise” part of “Thames River cruise” to throw you off.
All that said, Thames River cruises are quite fun, and they are an excellent way to see many of London’s famous sites in a leisurely way. To see the Palace of Westminster (where Big Ben is located), the London Eye, the London Bridge, and the Tower of London will take a decent amount of time and some serious walking (or praiseworthy Tube navigation). On a Thames River cruise, you get excellent views of all of these sites (and many more) in a matter of minutes. Since there are several ports along the river where boats stop, Thames River cruises are also excellent for simple transportation. Finally, it is worth mentioning that some boats on the Thames are equipped with restaurants and bars, so it is possible to eat and drink while you simultaneously take in the sites.
Thames River cruises are not regular cruises in any way, but they are none the worse because of it. Taking a cruise on the Thames is definitely one of the most efficient ways to see London (and you can even do it while you’re eating a meal or having a drink), and they are helpful for simple transportation too. If you are interested in taking a Thames River cruise, stay tuned, as our very next article is about how to book a Thames River cruise.