By George Christopher Thomas, Travel Writer
LONDON, ENGLAND – There are sightseeing tours in major cities, and then there are sightseeing experiences that you will never forget. I like “hop on hop off” bus tours as much as the next guy, but if you really want to see the sights while simultaneously having the time of your life, then I recommend Thames Rockets Jet Boats right next to the London Eye. Even though it is the easiest place to find in the great city of London, I still needed some time to walk around aimlessly while being mad at my wife for not knowing exactly where everything is in England immediately. (She was born British and remains fully affiliated with up-to-date cards and stickers).
The rocket jet boats are literally right under the London Eye, so just walk toward the most iconic landmark in the London skyline minus the Houses of Parliament and maybe The Shard. (They call it that because it looks like a shard of glass). So, for this adventure it was my traveling troupe of four, my bride and our two offspring. I have been on jet boats before, up in Oregon and out in Utah, but each experience is different, and we were here in London about to go up and down the Thames River.
It rains in England, that is part of its lure and charm. This is why a cup of tea is so brilliant. When it is cold and rainy outside, coming into someone’s home and being offered a cup of tea is the greatest thing of all time. As it turns out, they did not offer beverage service on our jet boat ride, as sipping boiling hot water is difficult even when remaining stationary, stoic, and having a stiff upper lip.
However, what they did offer before we got on was rain parkas. I was not sure just how wet we were going to get, so any chance to wear a rain parka I take, it is a personal policy I have now that I am in my mid-forties.
After a safety briefing, we were shuffled onto the boat. And then the fun began, just the scenery alone would be good enough for a pleasure cruise. However, there was more in store for me and the other three, an adventure of a lifetime with Thames Rockets Jet Boats. Sure, there were thoughts of James Bond, and there must be a few of his movies where a jet boat on the Thames comes into the picture. If there was ever a reason to use my GoPro, now was the time.
There are rules when you jet boat in major cities, and London is no exception. We had to take it easy until we passed the police docks and offices. We were not doing anything illegal; it is just in and around the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye, you can’t be speeding around at 80 miles per hour. However, once you get past the predetermined wake zone, you are free and clear to let your hair down and get funky.
Our fun started immediately after we passed the police docks, and the laughter coming out of my children was priceless. There were no faking sounds like that, the deep belly giggle and screams of joy as we sped through the middle of London on a jet boat. The company that puts on these adventures runs a pretty tight ship; pun intended. The operation was flawless and streamlined to the minute. When we were waiting to get on the boats, the previous parties from the hour before were just arriving back at the docks. You could see the happiness and joy emanating out of them, and that just added to the anticipation.
I don’t know how long we were up the river zig zagging and going super-fast. There was one young gentleman driving the boat, and another narrating the cruise, if you can call it that. One can pick up useless trivia and facts too on an adventure like this, and having a tour guide point out historic buildings and tell us stories adds to the ambiance of the ride.
Looking back, this was a great experience for the family, especially after touring the Houses of Parliament. Young children love dusty, stuffy, old history lessons while on long tours of boring buildings. (Their words, not mine). However, what they love more are jet boat rides up and down the river in London. I vote “aye” on both items.
We did a right and proper tour of the center of London. Getting a river experience grounds you more as you enjoy and visit one of the world’s greatest cities. The tour provider scheduled the perfect amount of time for slowing down and taking pictures. (Houses of Parliament, Tower of London, Shakespeare’s theater, etc.) That, combined with the James Bond, rip through the water and save the day on a jet boat section of the tour. It all added up to one of the best activities for a family while visiting London.
Another great attribute about exploring the Thames River on a jet boat is now when you see a movie with an iconic shot of Tower Bridge, or the Houses of Parliament, you can enjoy the picture that much more. You have been there, on the river, in a Thames River Rocket boat, having a brilliant time in London, England. That alone is worth the trip to the other side of the pond. Combine that with some Shepard’s pie, a cup of tea, and a side of brown sauce, then we are really having a proper holiday. For more information about the Thames River Rocket Cruise, please visit https://thamesrockets.com/