Recently the lovely people at Thames Rockets invited us to come and try a Thames Rockets RIB Experience. Initially we were booked on a 50 minute “Ultimate London Experience” however due to their policy which states that a minimum of eight people must be booked on a vessel for it to sail we were instead upgraded to their 80 minute “Thames Barrier Explorers Voyage”.
Originally named ‘London RIB Voyages’ Thames Rockets were the first to offer speedboat tours on the Thames when they launched in 2006 and now operate from both the London Eye Pier and St. Katherine’s Pier.
Our experience began at 16:00 just as the sun was setting at the London Eye Pier where we were greeted by a very friendly member of staff who confirmed our booking and offered us a waterproof coat and given that it was one of the coldest days of winter we were quick to accept and of course we were provided with life vests. Shortly afterwards our RIB docked up at the pier and we immediately boarded, the jokes from our on board guide ‘Matty P’ began almost immediately.
After a brief outline of what our tour was going to involve we set off from the London Eye and began by travelling west to the Houses of Parliament before returning past the London Eye through Central London. We began slowly due to the 8 knot speed limit on the River Thames through Central London and passed under most of London’s famous bridges which allowed us to get a unique view underneath of them including London’s two most famous bridges London Bridge and Tower Bridge as well as some of London’s most famous landmarks including The Shard and the Tower of London. During our initial tour through Central London our on board guide talked us through some of London’s landmarks as we passed them and his humour constantly made everyone on board laugh, sometimes hysterically.
Once we reached Tower Bridge the 8 knot speed limit was no longer in force and we therefore began speeding up and it didn’t take long to reach full speed. Even though I expected it to be fast I wasn’t expecting the speed we actually achieved and I certainly wasn’t expecting the maneuvers with the RIB pushed right to the limit. Music began to play including cheesy songs such as ‘Rocket Man’ which seemed very fitting for the occasion.
It was certainly a very cold day which was somewhat unfortunate for someone like myself who isn’t a big fan of the cold however it didn’t ruin the experience at all. We sped past the St. Katherine’s Dock, Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs before we reached Greenwich where we slowed down to get a bit of history of Greenwich, Cutty Sark, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich Observatory and Greenwich Mean Time before speeding back up and continuing under the Emirates Air Line and past the O2.
The next time we slowed down was when we reached the Thames Flood Barrier which we were pre-warned was a requirement, as we travelled through the barrier we were told about some of the history of the Thames Barrier before returning back through the barrier and back to Central London. By this point darkness had fell and the boat was now lit up which made the return journey feel like a completely different experience as we sped back to the London Eye. Once again we had to slow down once we reached Tower Bridge but a benefit of this was that this allowed us to take photos of some landmarks such as Tower and London Bridges from this unique viewpoint. We then arrived back at the London Eye and our 80 minute tour was over, our friendly crew had a chat with us as we disembarked and wished us a good evening.
The experience was highly enjoyable and unforgettable.We would like to thank Thames Rockets for inviting us to have this experience also our on-board host ‘Matty P’ and skipper ‘Salty’. If you want to learn more about Thames Rockets you can visit their website: www.thamesrockets.com
Check out some of our photos from this excellent experience below:
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