As is often the case in London, I’m always seeing various attractions dotted around that I’d just love the chance to try out.
One of these is a huge greenhouse-style boat which I often see making trips up and down the River Thames during my lunch break at work.
When Veltra, an online tour and activity booking website, offered me the chance to try out a River Thames cruise, I quite literally jumped at the chance. Sure, I was excited about the fact it included a three-course lunch and jazz music – but I would finally get the opportunity to try out that greenhouse-style boat that I’m always so very intrigued about.
Our trip was for a London Jazz cruise with lunch from Bateaux London which included the following:
- A two and a half hour cruise
- Three-course meal
- Half a bottle of house wine
- Half a bottle of mineral water
- Fairtrade coffee and tea (BONUS!)
- A live jazz band on board
At 12:30pm we boarded our Symphony boat at the Embankment Pier, and were shown to our window table by one of the waiters. Over the next half-hour, the boat slowly started to fill up with excited day-trippers – hen parties looking for a refined way to toast a bride-to-be off, couples on a romantic meal out, and whole families celebrating a birthday. Although it’s a bit of a clichéd thing to say, the cruise really did seem like it appealed to everyone – from young teenagers, right through to grandparents.
It was quite a surreal feeling on board – even though we knew we were on a boat, it felt like we were in a riverside restaurant, as it was just so neatly set out. And, no sooner had we sat down, our waiter offered up a choice of red or wine wine (we opted for the red), and poured us our fancy mineral water – I’m certainly not used to this level of service!
At 1pm, the boat departed from the pier. This incredibly crude map gives you an idea of the area we covered during the two and a half hours. From Embankment (the big red star), we set off towards Battersea, before we turned round and headed back towards Canary Wharf.
Top tip: If, like me, you’re not one for really travelling backwards, bag a seat looking to the front of the boat (towards Battersea). Because the boat turns around, you’ll always be facing forward, and will never have to endure a dreaded backwards ride!
The menu featured vegetarian and meat options for both the starter and main meal. And don’t think for one minute that Bateaux London are scraping on style just because the meal’s on a boat – no, no, no! Each and every dish was beautifully presented, with a smorgasbord of textures and flavours to entice us in. I’m not a hugely adventurous person when it comes to food, but even I enjoyed tucking into food I’d never tried before because it all looked so delicious…
The vegetarian starter was:
Meanwhile, the meat starter (lovingly enjoyed by my boyfriend) was:
…see what I mean about beautifully presented?
I was a bit concerned when I saw my starter that the portions were all a bit small. BUT – it turns out I had nothing to worry about. The three courses all filled me up nicely, without having to worry about being too full up to continue!
Now for the mains. I’m still dreaming about the vegetarian option – it was that good. The millefeuilles (or ‘pastry things’ which I described them as to my mum) were absolutely scrummy, especially with the mousse.
My boyfriend opted for the leg of lamb for his main, which went rather well with our red wine:
And as for the dessert, what better way to round off the meal with a traditionally English slice of sticky toffee pudding?!
With the cruise taking us from the tips of Battersea right over to the edge of the Isle of Dogs, there sure were a lot of London sights to soak up! Tourist attractions such as Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are all along the Thames, so if it’s your first time in the capital, it’s a great way to get those all-important snaps at a leisurely pace!
Even for hardened Londoners, the cruise offers some pretty tasty sights. I’m fairly familiar with all the main parts of London, but even I was ooh’ing and aah’ing out the window at art installations and places I’ve never seen before!
The London Eye:
On our way back to Embankment Pier, the jazz band, who had been gently playing quiet songs in the background, belted out some great classics, such as Fly Me To the Moon and That’s Life. They also took time out to sing Happy Birthday to certain guests, and make some special announcements to those on board.
I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon cruising on the Thames. In fact, so much so, that my boyfriend and I were busy planning during our meal who we could purchase the experience for. There’s quite a few people we know who we think would love to bask in the height of sophistication.
But don’t just take my word for it!
At one point during the cruise, I made my way out onto the side of the boat to catch some fresh air. I started talking to a lady, all dressed up and looking glam.
“This is the second time I’ve been on here!” she proudly announced. “I loved it so much the first time that my daughter bought me the trip again for Christmas!”
High praise indeed!
As always, all views are my own.