London Drum

Thames River Sightseeing (TRS) Boat to Greenwich

Where? Thames River Sightseeing, Westminster Pier, Victoria Embankment, Westminster When? Every day Westminster to Tower Bridge -- Every 30 mins from 10 AM to 6 PM Westminster to Greenwich -- Every 30 mins from 10 AM to 5 PM Price? Westminster to Tower Bridge -- Adult from £10.96 one way, £16.06 return; Child (5-15) from £7.56 one way, £10.96 return Westminster to Greenwich -- Adult from £13.43 one way, £17.68 return; Child (5-15) from £8.92 one way, £11.81 return · See Parking: Nearby car parks Buses: For Westminster Pier: 11, 24, 148, 211; For Greenwich Pier: 129, 177, 180, 188, 199, 386 Bus fares Trains: The closest station is Westminster Circle District Jubilee Other nearby stations: Embankment Train fares

Craig’s review… We're just waiting for the final few stragglers and then we'll be on our way. These TRS boats don't have much in the way of sides which is a bit disconcerting, just a few iron railings that run along the length. So if this boat pitches violently sideways then you can forget about the rest of this review -- I'm going to fall in. If I stop halfway through then you'll know I'm floating somewhere out at sea.

Thames River Sightseeing boat at Westminster PierPhoto: Craig Cross
Thames River Sightseeing boat at Westminster Pier

I've noticed that there are only four lifejackets as well, and I'm pretty sure they will be snapped up by the crew as soon as the first wave hits. So where are our jackets? Er, hello? Excuse me! What about all of us? I don't give a toss about the tourists but they'd better at least have one for me.

It's too late to worry about all of that now though, because the seat has started vibrating as the engine starts up. The guy unties the heavy-duty rope at the side of the pier and heaves it onto the gunwale, then we back away from the edge and drift in a full circle, turning around to face upriver. I'm imagining that he's got a big red button in the cockpit marked 'Turbo boost' because he's just done something serious to get us going. The waves are bursting out the back and churning up the water.

Open deck on a Thames River Sightseeing boatPhoto: Craig Cross
Open deck on a Thames River Sightseeing boat

We're motoring past the Disneyland turrets of the Royal Horseguards hotel now. Then comes Cleopatra's Needle on the left, the Royal Festival Hall (right), Somerset House (left) and the Temple area through the trees (hopefully the leaves will have dropped off so you can see). It's a bit nippy on the river this morning and the strong wind is icing up my eyes and making them bleed tears. The water is the same colour as a cold cup of tea.

Tate Modern, Globe Theatre & St. Paul's

Passing St. Paul's and the Millennium BridgePhoto: Craig Cross
Passing St. Paul's and the Millennium Bridge

After Blackfriars Bridge you pass the tall chimney of the Tate Modern and Shakespeare's Globe before sneaking a peek at Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf over the top of Southwark Bridge.

Then you pass Francis Drake's Golden Hinde in a dry dock on the right, and get a quick glimpse of The Monument's golden urn through the middle of the City skyscrapers.

HMS Belfast, Tower of London & Tower Bridge

Passing HMS Belfast and The ShardPhoto: Craig Cross
Passing HMS Belfast and The Shard

After you've stared down the gun barrels of HMS Belfast you'll pass Traitor's Gate and the Tower of London, before pulling slowly into Tower Bridge Quay where they'll let half an army of tourists off the boat. Everyone disembarks to see the sights around here, so the air is full of excited tourist chatter and the metallic clatter of their shoes as they clamber down the gangway.

The White Tower at the Tower of LondonPhoto: Craig Cross
The White Tower at the Tower of London

Off we go again, heading towards Greenwich now. The river begins to widen out around Rotherhithe and the waves start rolling over each other and growing into giant swells. We burst through them and smack them flat, but then another boat roars past and fires his own white waves at us, bouncing our boat five feet into the sky. Sheets of spray fly over the side as the dirty water bangs and slaps against the bow. Here they come again and again, banging and battering the sides, churning the foam into a dirty mess of bubbles before receding... defeated. The boat ploughs on.

Looking back at Tower Bridge and The ShardPhoto: Craig Cross
Looking back at Tower Bridge and The Shard

Canary Wharf skyscrapers

The breeze really whips up when he opens the motor past Canary Wharf and my eyes are really watering now. The wind is teasing out the tears from my face and people probably think that I'm overcome with emotion, but I'm just freezing cold.

Approaching the skyscrapers at Canary WharfPhoto: Craig Cross
Approaching the skyscrapers at Canary Wharf

It's a very strange sensation out here... it seems as if it's nice and peaceful and serene, but then you realise there's always the rushing tumbling deafening roar of the water. I've pretty much got the top deck to myself because the tourists have all disappeared downstairs for a cup of tea, so that means the wind has only got one target left: me. I am on the verge of giving up and going below but what the hell... if I die, I die. I will brave it. If I succumb to pneumonia out here on the Thames then that is a decent enough way to say good-bye to the world.

Now we're floating past the slummy parts of London... past the plastic flats and wasteland. There are no pretty riverside walks around here and what passes for scenery looks dirty, dull and rusted. If you think that London is a crowded city then you should try coming out beyond Canary Wharf first thing in the morning... the only boats that venture out this far are the dredgers, river police and us. There are some floating hunks of junk chained up in the middle of the river which look like they've been dumped and abandoned, and every now and then we pass a seagull sitting on a fence post, but that's about our only company.

Cutty Sark & Old Royal Naval College

The Old Royal Naval College in GreenwichPhoto: Craig Cross
The Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich

Ten minutes later you'll finally find some beauty: Greenwich. You'll recognise the tall mast of the Cutty Sark first, then high up on the distant hill, almost lost in the fog, is the telescope dome of the Royal Observatory. And how about the wings of the Old Royal Naval College!

This is why you've been sitting on the top deck freezing to death for sixty minutes -- to see this fantastic sight. Then you slowly float into the back of the pier and the crew lassos the ropes over the pylons, while you sit there for a few minutes deciding what to do next.

Worth a visit? Value for money? Good for kids? Easy to get to?

I also recommend… If you enjoy Thames River Sightseeing then you might like to visit City Cruises (you can walk there in less than 1 min) and Uber Boat by Thames Clippers (you can walk it in 6 mins). If you'd prefer a sightseeing trip by bus then try the Big Bus Tour and Tootbus Tour

London Squire bookThe owns and has spent the last decade reviewing the capital’s landmarks, attractions and hotels. His guidebook is available from Amazon

Related events

This month Bollywood Boat Party on the Thames

Bollywood Boat Party & Sunset Cruise down the Thames

Today Jason's Trip

Jason’s Trip – Canal boat from Little Venice to Camden16

This month Silent Sounds Boat Party

Silent Sounds Disco on a Party Boat down the Thames

Your comments and questions

Patricia Hello Craig, is it possible to get a boat with commentary from the Tower Hotel (St Katherine's Way) area to Greenwich or do we need to get transportation from Westminster?

Craig Hi. You can catch a boat from Tower Bridge to Greenwich with commentary, but there's not a lot of it to be honest, because there are hardly any landmarks in that stretch. From memory you get a bit about the Mayflower, Execution Dock, the Prospect of Whitby pub, and the skyscrapers at Canary Wharf, but that's about it. The bulk of the commentary is between Westminster and Tower Bridge.

Gerhard Where can we get on boat if we're at the Tower of London? We will be doing tour at Tower of London and then want to take boat on river down to Big Ben. Where do we pick up?

Craig City Cruises stop right outside the Tower of London itself (just by the entrance gate). TRS stop at Tower Bridge Quay, which is on the opposite side of Tower Bridge (2 min walk). Both of them go to Westminster pier for Big Ben. There's not much difference between them. City Cruises have bigger boats, but they're usually a lot busier

Sanji Is it possible to disembark at Tower Bridge Quay if we begin the cruise at Westminster?

Craig You can do, sure. That's actually where most of the tourists get off, because it's right next to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London

terry alliston herbert Boat trips to the thames barrier please

Craig Hi Terry. TRS goes as far as the Thames Barrier and then turns straight around to finish at Greenwich. You can't actually get off at the Thames Barrier though. Uber's Thames Clipper goes past the Thames Barrier on its way to Woolwich, but you can't get off at the Barrier with them either. You have to get the bus if you want to visit --​attractions/​thames-barrier.php

Leave a comment