Has seeing a thousand boats parade down the river during the Thames Jubilee Pageant fuelled your love for all things maritime, or made you fancy a trip on the Thames yourself? Here are our favourite boats and ships to explore and travel on in the capital.
The world’s last remaining tea clipper has re-opened after a six-year, £50 million restoration and topped the poll of the best boats in London on our Facebook page. It’s a surreal experience to walk underneath its gleaming hull which has been raised three metres (10 feet) off the ground.
The historic war ship re-opened just in time for the Jubilee celebrations. It was built in 1936 and was Britain’s largest cruiser during the Second World War, when it protected arctic convoys and bombarded German defences on D-Day. There are nine decks to visit, including the interactive Operations Room where you are put in the Captain’s shoes to control a fleet of ships off North Borneo.
The Golden Hinde is a full-sized reconstruction of the Tudor warship which carried Sir Francis Drake around the world in the late 1500s. The voyage took three years, but you can explore the decks and rooms in a day. To get into the historic mood, book a tour with costumed guides or a pirate workshop which will train you in the art of raising the anchors and firing the cannons.
If it’s good enough for James Bond, it’s good enough for us. Taking a speedboat is an exhilarating way to see the landmarks littered along the Thames, from The O2 to Tower Bridge. Three companies run sightseeing tours in rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) offering various high-octane trips, whether you want to slow down for guided commentary on the sights or to travel at full throttle for thrills.
The KPMG Thames Clippers are a fleet of river catamarans used daily by city commuters that make a pretty exciting day out for the rest of us. The high-speed boats leave London’s major piers every 20 minutes, giving you the flexibility to piece together your own watery sightseeing tour or hop between stops as part of a day’s tourism.
London Duck Tours
Part boat and part bus, London’s amphibious yellow vehicles are easy to spot on the streets as they drive past London sights starting at Waterloo, before launching into the Thames from a slipway near the MI5 building in Vauxhall. The hybrid vehicle is far from a gimmick – the heroic ducks were all used in the D-Day landings in 1944.
What’s your favourite boat or ship in London?