Staying Afloat in London: Travel with My Tween Son by Robin Gorman Newman

My 12 year old son and I both love the water, whether it be swimming or boating.

This summer, we embarked on quite the mommy ‘n me travel bonding adventure…a 9 day trip to London.  My husband was unable to join us, but he embraced our overseas aspirations and loved hearing about our exploits.

We had a very active trip — which I will blog about fully — but I wanted to highlight our boating experiences, as each was unique and something I’d recommend.

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LONDON RIB VOYAGES — This was such a blast I can’t tell you!  Launched in 2006, London RIB Voyages™ was the first speedboat operator to set sail on the Thames, and they have won awards and raves on Trip Advisor.  Easy to see why.

Seth and I with the wind in our hair.

Seth and I with the wind in our hair.

If you love speed and boats, this is a must do in London.  We took the 80 minute ride (their longest) called the Thames Barrier Explorer’s Voyage, and loved every heart-racing minute.  It was comfortable, safe, and a total thrill ride!

It leaves from London Eye Waterloo Millennium Pier, and not only is it a ride to remember, it’s a cool way to see sights from a river view and to hear about London from one of their lively, funny, informative guides.  It goes past London Eye, Somerset House, HMS President, London Bridge (visible in the photo), Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe, The Gherkin, The Shard and HMS Belfast.  They offer rides of varying lengths, the shortest being 15 minutes, if you just want to give it a quick whirl or are pressed for time.  We would take an RIB ride again in a heartbeat, and wish it was offered in New York City too! Click HERE for info.


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LONDON DUCK TOURS — Seth and I are ardent Duck Boat fans, having taken several in the U.S.  So, when I learned they have a London version, we had to check out the Amazing Amphibious Adventure.

There are a variety of sightseeing and themed tours including the Classic Tour, the Pirates of Westminster Treasure Hunt, the James Bond Tour and the time travelling D-Day Duck.   All tours leave from a location near the London Eye.

jamesbondducktourAs a fan of James Bond, we went for that tour.  First you drive through the streets seeing various sights, including locations where  James Bond films were shot, and then you splash down in the river Thames.  We even saw where Ian Fleming lived, ‘Q’ worked and Bond bought his boxer shorts!  The guide was well informed (and provided some insider Bond scoop) and elegantly dressed the Bond part.  All that was missing was some James Bond theme music to get in the mood.

The Ducks, originally used in the Second World War, have been completely rebuilt from scratch and modified to meet the stringent safety regulations set by the road and river authorities.

If speed is not your thing, you will enjoy London Duck Tours.  More time is spent on land, but you get some river time, and it’s cool when the boat converts to take to the water.

Click HERE for info.


jasonsJASON’S ORIGINAL CANAL BOAT RIDE — I discovered this on Trip Advisor,  as I was researching for activities a bit off the beaten track, and I’m glad we did it.  We took this ride for free using the London Pass, which you can purchase, and I highly recommend.  It’s a great way to see sights at a savings.

Jason’s Trip is the original Regent’s Canal tour and has been operating since 1951.  It’s an authentic 108-year-old canal boat which was originally used as a cargo-vessel on the canals before being fitted with a diesel engine and converted to passenger-carrying duties.

SUMMER 2015 -- phily, pool, London 143The tour runs between Little Venice and Camden lock. It takes about 45 minutes one way, and you can choose the direction. During the trip from Little Venice to Camden, a live guide details the canal’s history and you learn about the importance and inner-workings of the canal.  You even hear about those families who call the canal home.

We took the ride one way to Camden where we explored the lively food market (had a great tandoori chicken wrap), and the many stalls selling everything from funky t-shirts to other kitschy items.  It’s just a short walk from there to the London Zoo, which we also explored (courtesy of London Pass) and enjoyed.  This is a scenic, relaxing, convenient, throwback way to get to a different section of London.  Click HERE for info.




Note: We had complimentary boat rides provided by the companies featured and London Pass.

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