Postcard from London: Cruise on the Thames

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Dear Luke and Leia,

Today is our second day in London and we have chosen to take a river cruise on the Thames. The cruise we booked runs from downtown London all the way up to Greenwich.

It is cold and rainy today, but thankfully out sightseeing boat is well prepared for this. There are glass windows to keep everyone warm and dry while we listen to the guide and watch the city pass by.

River Cruise boat on the Thames
River Cruise boat on the Thames

Tower Bridge

Sailing under the London Bridge
Sailing under the London Tower Bridge on the river Thames

Our river cruise on the Thames begins by heading towards London’s famous Tower Bridge. That’s the same one we rode across yesterday on the HoHo tour bus.

It was different looking at the bridge from the Thames river level instead of street level. It looks so much more impressive when you are at this level as it towers over you while passing under it. The people look minuscule compared to the base of the tower!


Wharfs in the docklands area of London
Wharfs in the docklands area of London

Next we cruise through the area known as the docklands. This is where the shipping for London loads and unloads and has been used to many of hundreds of years. Now there is a convention center named Excel located in this area and lots of hotels and restaurants to serve the conference goers.

Stormy day on the Thames
Stormy day in the Financial District along Thames

Financial District

We liked the Financial District because all the skyscrapers reached into the clouds and seemed to pull them down. It looked like one of the clouds was a tornado over the Citi building, but it was not.

Greenwich, the beginning of time (zones)


Along the Thames

Finally, we reached Greenwich, which marks the far end of the river cruise. And it’s not pronounced “Green-Witch,” interestingly enough. Londoners call it “Gren-Itch.”

This is the place where the time zones of the world start, known as GMT or Greenwich Mean Time. From this point, the time changes hour by hour as you move around the globe.

There are 24 zones in total, all radiating outwards from Greenwich. On the other side of the planet, you reach the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean. The Date Line is where the date changes. And it’s not a straight line; it dodges islands along the way so that the dates and times are consistent in each place.

Sights along the Thames

Classic building seen along the waterfront during a cruise on the Thames River
The London Eye, as seen during a Thames River cruise

We saw so many interesting buildings and some very stately architecture while on the Thames. Many had columns and domes and ornate designs on them like those above. And we also saw the London Eye!

Battleship HMS Belfast
Battleship HMS Belfast on the Thames

We came across the HMS Belfast battleship. It’s been decommissioned and is now a naval museum. The battleship was launched in 1938 and fought in both the Second World War and the Korean War. The ship was impressive from the view we had. This ship’s era marks the ending of the British Empire and the time the United States rose to world power.

At one time the British Empire stretched across the whole world. It was said the sun never set upon the British Empire. Do you know why? Because God didn’t trust the Brits in the dark.


Sailing along the Thames
Sailing along the Thames

We are reaching the end of our river cruise on the Thames river. We have seen such an overview of London in the first two days of our layover in London, but tomorrow we will focus on the Tower of London. I think it’s time for a pint with my half-pint (Nana) at a local pub and some fish and chips for dinner.

We miss you both.


Nana and Pap

P.S. – There’s a nice 4-star boutique hotel in London’s West End called Park Grand London Hyde Park Hotel. It’s not far from Paddington Station and Heathrow Express, which makes it a super convenient location for taking day trips from London.

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Written by Dan

Professional photographer specializing in street, food and travel shots.

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16 thoughts on “Postcard from London: Cruise on the Thames”

  1. Oh wow – I went to England when I was 18 and I can’t remember seeing the Thames like that! Love your photos and letter from Nan and Pop, great pics of the Cruise on the Thames.
    And the fish and Chips in England are the best ever 😉

    • You’re right about the fish & chips, Lisa … Dan ate them for dinner every night! Did you have your chips with malt vinegar like the locals do?

  2. I didn’t do a cruise on the Thames when I visited London though I really should have, I was lucky enough to have perfect weather – warm and clear blue skies. Next time though! 🙂

    • We enjoyed our cruise but even better would have been to take a full-day cruise up the Thames. There’s one that visits Henry VIII’s old stomping grounds, Hampton Court. Maybe next time.

  3. I took this river cruise too when I was in London. I loved it and the weather was perfect that day (very rare in London). Your post made me want to go back to London. What a great city!

  4. I love doing river cruises in cities, as you get such a different perspective from walking (or driving) the streets. This looks like a great one.

    • Thanks Carmen! Another vote in favor of seeing cities from the water! Did you spend any time at Greenwich or Hampton Court?

  5. I’ve never done a Thames River Cruise despite having umpteen years in London. I’ve heard its good and have always meant to take the children.

    • You should, Shobha! It stops at Greenwich, center of time calculation and shipping … think of it! It’d offer all sorts of kid-teaching opportunities, I would think.

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