By George Christopher Thomas, Travel Writer
The next time you are in London, if you get a chance, take a cruise along the Thames River. I am fortunate enough to have had the honor of doing the London Showboat Dinner Cruise, and it was quite the experience.
Our plane landed at Heathrow, and we had about an hour and a half to get to the docks by 7:30pm. It was a race against time, but I was determined to start my European Vacation cruising along the Thames sipping wine and enjoying the sights.
And let me be the first to tell you, this dinner cruise hosted by City Cruises is the way to do London. We checked into our hotel by Westminster Abbey and had about 5 minutes to board the boat and check in for the cruise. Wearing a suit and the whole bit, Joanne and I sprinted past Scotland Yard and the Houses of Parliament to reach the deck in time to be greeted with a glass of champagne. Now this is the life, and the only way to start the vacation. We met Joanne’s brother Michael for the dinner cruise, and we were off on the river Thames.
The welcome glass of champagne is a great touch, and we were escorted to our table. They started us off with oak smoked Scottish salmon, wrapped around king prawns with capers, lemon and dill dressing. It was absolutely delicious and fabulous, and a great beginning to a very special evening. Just about that time, the live music began, and the woman singing was quite talented. The songs she was singing seemed quite familiar, and as it turns out, they were famous numbers from London’s West end shows. She was quite inspiring, and got a lot of the people on the cruise to start singing along and dancing.
The dinner cruise is actually a four course dinner that lasts 3 ½ hours. They start you out in the heart of the historic district of London, right by the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. Throughout the evening you see the Canary Wharf, the O2 Arena, and then they take you beyond the Thames barrier.
If you take the cruise during the summer, you will also be able to enjoy the sunset as you see famous monuments such as Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Millennium Footbridge, the OXO Tower, the Houses of Parliament and the famous London Eye.
For our second course, we had roasted butternut squash soup, with cumin and coriander. The soup was perfect for dipping bread, and it really got the appetite going. The City Cruises London Showboat Company really knows how to take care of its patrons, and each dinner comes with a half a bottle of wine as well as the glass of champagne when you board the boat.
At this point everyone was feeling loose, and the wonderful lady singer was becoming quite interactive with the crowd. I have to admit I was hoping she would embarrass Joanne and her brother, but it was not meant to be. Next came the main course, thyme, rosemary and lemon roasted chicken with creamy leek and tarragon mushroom sauce.
The kitchen staff must have had one of those special knives that you see advertised on late night television, because those mushrooms were cut paper thin and were supremely delicious. The chicken was divine, and the portions were more than generous. There is no way you are walking away from the dinner cruise hungry.
We spent the remainder of the night laughing, drinking and enjoying ourselves. It was a magical evening and is an activity in London not to be missed. The combination of a river cruise, dinner and sightseeing is perfect. I highly recommend getting tickets to this wonderful London experience. (For more information, please visit www.citycruises.com)