This past weekend, the husband and one of his brothers got to try out a fun Thames Rib Boat experience on my behalf. A long story short, I wasn’t able to go unfortunately. So they had the job of doing a review for me.
So over to Mr. U for his review of the experience:
Despite the circle line doing its level best to thwart our efforts to make it to the rib boating experience, which is actually precisely opposite Embankment stations exit, we managed to rock up (more or less) on time!
After a quick intro, staff provided snazzy waterproof jackets (to go on top of my already waterproof jacket – double protection from the elements!) and life vests. After walking down a ramp to the end of the jetty, the boat was docked and ready. Now, when I had heard people mention ‘rib boats’ in conversation in the past – I conjured up a mental image of a flimsy rubber dinghy with a lawnmower engine on the back. This was not that! The rib boats boast 740 horse power, V8 twin turbo thrust engines! Enough power to put the fear of god in you if the skipper so wanted!
The rib boat itself only seats 12 people, so it doesn’t feel like you packed in. They are bright yellow(!) and are equipped with speakers and subwoofers that play all sorts of music for various parts of the journey (from the James Bond theme tune when passing the millennium dome to Louis Amstrong’s We Have All The Time In The World when cruising along within the Thames speed limit – 12 knots).
The package we chose (the 75 min Thames Barrier Experience) took us down to the Houses of Parliament, then back up towards the London eye. During this time, and whilst having to stick to the speed limit, the tour guide gave a really interesting insight to the waterfront buildings and their history. The guide certainly loved the sound of his own voice (his words, not mine), but I actually learned a huge amount of London trivia that I had never heard before.
Once we got a little further on, past Tower Bridge, the boat was able to really stretch its legs and accelerated away at a frighteningly quick pace (think rollercoaster on water)! When we passed Canary Wharf area and the millennium dome, the boat slowed briefly, giving us a chance to check out our new hair styles and to hear a few more fun facts and stories about the sites we were passing.
For me, there was the right amount of speed and tourist trivia. Most of the time you are going fast! I should also add that even though the boats are rapid, you somehow don’t seem to get very wet. There may be a bit of spray if its particularly choppy and you cross the wake of other big boats, but this was definitely not an issue. We stayed bone dry!
The half-way point takes you down to the Thames flood barrier. When passing through the gates (which are huge btw) the guide explained how they work and mentioned that they had been closed as a precaution a few days before. Of course, no one knows whether they actually work as every time there is a risk of a rising tide the barriers get closed! Still – better safe than sorry!
The way back is a more-or-less unbroken journey, opening up the throttle even further whilst throwing in some hard twists and turns for good measure! You zip past other boats like they’re standing still in the water!
Once back to central London, it all calms down again until you reach Embankment where we disembarked from the boat. Oddly, not once did I feel queasy out on the water. As soon as I stood on land (well, the jetty) the world felt a little unsteady!
This was such a fun experience. It’s not too pricey either, especially if you choose shorter journey options. So I definitely think that you get value for money. If I ever want a thrill out on the water, it’s safe to say I’m coming back here for round two! A rib boat is firmly on the wish list!
*the tickets were gifted but all opinions are my own.