When Girlwrighter and I were offered the promise of a cool ride with ThamesJet, I had to see what all the hype was about.
You see, we weren’t going to be enjoying a leisurely cruise along the River Thames; this was an adrenaline-packed ride featuring more twists and turns than a helter-skelter. How could we say no? So, donning our ‘Bond Girl’ attires and attitudes to match, Girlwrighter and I headed for the Big Smoke…
ThamesJet is located at London’s Westminster Pier (the nearest Tube station being Westminster on the District and Circle line), and offers a speedboat ride along the Thames. The 50-minute experience, which travels from Westminster to Canary Wharf and back, promises sightseeing, speed and some awesome aquabatics.
We rocked on up about 15 minutes’ prior to boarding and handed over our ticket at the booth to get checked in.
The no-frills waiting room featured a row of eight seats, a small ticket kiosk, two huge boxes (for locking away valuables) and two rails – one for life jackets and the other for large waterproof jackets.
Once everyone had arrived (the boat carries 12 people in total), we were given a safety briefing. This included being shown how to put on our life jackets (and told that misusing them incurs a £50 fine!), reminded to hold on tight while on board and reassured that if we had any problems during the ride we could raise one hand in the air to get the captain’s attention.
We were also told that we could carry valuables and mobile phones – but it would be at our own risk; I took my mobile phone (with a view to putting it away when the boat sped up), while Girlwrighter wore a Go-Pro on her head.
Once boarded, the boat cruised up the Thames for a good 10-15 minutes before it kicked into action; we were told that once it had passed Tower Bridge, that’s when we needed to hold tight!
We needn’t have worried about an adequate forewarning; the loud music that suddenly kicked in along with Bond-style mission instructions told us that things were about to get bumpy.
I should explain here that we actually experienced two rides with ThamesJet; the first time around, we got absolutely soaking wet. And, if I’m completely honest, travelling through torrential rain at 40mph wasn’t pleasant at all. The ride was cut short because people had their heads down trying to shield themselves from being blasted.
Needless to say, when we disembarked we were cold, soaking wet and uncomfortable. However, I could see that the experience would have been superb – if only it had been a dry day.
The kind people at ThamesJet really wanted us to experience the full effect of a pleasurable trip so kindly invited us to come back.
Second time lucky
This time I took my 12-year old, knowing that he’d also get a huge kick out of it. And I was right. We were a bit dubious about the clouds; yet again our great British summer weather was being unpredictable, raining off and on all day – until it was time to take our seats for a 5pm departure.
I couldn’t believe it; the sun decided to stay out for our experience – our luck was in! And I enjoyed every single second. Those who are pregnant, suffer from back problems or any other medical issues are advised not to ride – and I could see why.
The boat would turn sharply from side to side and with the wind in your hair and people screaming and shouting with delight, it can only be described as a thoroughly exhilarating experience.
We were rocked about as the boat twisted and turned, occasionally getting splashed and tried desperately to hold on for dear life. The best bit was that as the boat hit the crest of a wave, our bums would leave our seats, returning to earth with a big thud; let’s just say it was one time in my life when I was grateful for the extra padding I had going on in the rear!
So would I do it again? Hell yeah. As a self-confessed adrenaline junkie, I could have spent the day on the river and never tire of it.
Having said that, despite it being dry and summer, I wish I had worn gloves. This is one of the top tips I’ll pass on to you if you decide to try the experience for yourself.
You forget that the wind can really bite when you’re travelling at high speed – and having to hold on to a metal bar for the best part of the ride (and hold pretty tight) means that your hands will most likely get cold and numb.
The other tip that goes hand in hand with this is to wear the waterproof jacket. Despite the sun shining and my son wearing a t-shirt, jumper AND a waterproof jacket, he was still cold – and this was August. So even if it’s a hot day, trust me when I say wrap up warm.
And finally, as I find out myself…try to book a trip in dry weather! I’m guessing a light drizzle would be fine for the ride, but when it’s really pelting down, it might turn into a short-lived, uncomfortable experience.
The final verdict though was a very positive one; I’d definitely recommend it as something unique and different to try in London – and the fact that you get to do some great sightseeing from the river adds to its appeal.
A 50-minute Thamesrush option with ThamesJet costs from £39 per adult and £29 per child (kids need to be at least 1.35 metres tall to take part).
If you’re travelling as a group – or if you want to add on extras, you can create packages with other local attractions. Prices vary according to the time of year and number of passengers booked, so double check on the website.
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