To be rated as Trip Advisor’s number one outdoor activity in London is something of an accolade. London has a never ending and ever changing number of things to do so reaching the top spot is surely a difficult feat.
Thames Rocket gives customers the chance to zoom down the Thames River taking in the sights whilst enjoying the thrill of 30 knots onboard the red RIB. RIB stands for Rigid-hulled inflatable boat which should give you some indication of what the boats are like. You’ll be riding in a heavy duty inflatable similar to what the SAS Elite UK forces use and don’t underestimate how fast these boats can go!
The Thames Rockets tick a lot of boxes as a London activity; it has a centrally located launch point so you won’t have to travel far to get to on board, it’s suitable for all ages, it takes in a lot of the key sights along the Thames, and it’s also a hit with thrill seekers!
My parents were visiting London and I decided to take them on the Thames Rockets to get a different perspective of the city. Judging by the joyful whooping, the whole boat greatly enjoyed the ride and interestingly perhaps for different reasons. A few visitors from the USA were on the boat with us, and for them the opportunity to see so many of London’s top sights for the first time was a dream come true, the guide was informative throughout as well as rather funny and it helped our overseas visitors understand a little bit more about what we were going past. Equally for my parents it wasn’t the first time in London but definitely gave them a completely unique view of many of the familiar sights on the Thames including seeing Canary Wharf, St Catherine’s Dock and even the police boats!
It’s easy to see why it’s so highly rated and will continue to be a top activity in the capital and so I’ve put together a list of some ‘need to know’ Q&A before you jump on board.
How to book tickets
Whilst it’s essential to book in advance it’s always worth seeing if there are last minute tickets available as the Thames Rocket operates around 10 times a day. You can book online here or via the phone operator by calling the booking hotline on 020 7928 8933.
Who can/can’t ride?
The experience is suitable for all ages but unfortunately not for lades at any stage of pregnancy. Equally it’s not recommended for anyone with past or current back, neck or heart condition.
Will I get wet?
The quick answer is ‘not really.’ Before we boarded we were all offered waterproof jackets which most people declined as it was lovely weather. On the way out of London I didn’t even feel a drop of water on me, but as we headed back towards the pier then the wind did catch the water resulted in a little spray. Whilst you’re definitely not going to get actually wet, for anyone particularly precious about their hair it’s maybe advisable to at least tie it back.
Is it scary?
I would use the word thrilling rather than scary. Sure enough the RIB can get up to some great speeds but it’s incredibly enjoyable in the same way a roller coaster is. There’s always somewhere to hold onto and there were people of all ages on board my trip proving that it was enjoyed cross generationally.
What safety precautions are taken?
Lifejackets are provided and must be worn at all times. It’s a self inflating one and is very lightweight so you wouldn’t really notice you’ve got it on. Equally there are children’s lifejackets and facilities for toddlers too. Thames Rocket is fully insured and also has ‘full Public Liability Insurance to four times the legal requirement level is in place as standard.’
Where does it go from?
The rides take place from two locations. I went from London Eye Pier which is just to the left of the London Eye when facing the river, but they also have a departure point for certain trips from the Tower of London .
What will I see?
Many of London’s most iconic landmarks are along the Thames and it’s definitely a great way to see many of them from a completely different perspective. Even the launching point for the boat is right next to the London Eye and opposite the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.
Some of the top sights along the route are;
- The Tower of London- Home of the crown jewels, where Anne Boleyn was beheaded and the home to various exotic animals over the years incoming a polar bear!
- HMS Belfast – WWII ship and the first ship to fire shots on D Day. Decommissioned in the 70s, it’s now a museum.
- The Shard – The tallest building in western Europe.
- Shakespeare’s Globe – Replica building and one of the most popular theatres in London.
- Blackfriars Bridge – Attractive bridge featuring decoration only seen from the water such as columns decorated on one side with seabirds and on the other with fresh water birds as it’s the divide between fresh water and salt water in the river.
- Tower Bridge – The most famous bridge in London and one of the most famous sights with it’s beautiful twin towers.
What are the guides like?
Our guide was very friendly from start to finish, not only was he making every laugh and creating a great atmosphere but he was also very knowledgable about the sights along the river.
As we went past a variety of spots he would give us a brief guide to each of the locations and made personal recommendations. For the Americans on board who hadn’t visited London before he was a good source of knowledge and even for us Brits then he had some lesser known facts that I actually had to Google when I got home as I didn’t know how I hadn’t learnt them previously. (I’ll let you find out for yourself what they were.)
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