As half term approached, I spent a while planning things to do with Cassius. Painting – check!, Fun in the park – check! Soft play – check! I wanted to do something a bit different which didn’t involve our usual haunts and activities.
As a Londoner, I’ll sometimes see the London Duck Tours en route depending on where I am in Central London and always think they look fun, so when the opportunity arose to experience one for myself, I jumped at the chance. This was perfect timing! The idea is that you get to combine a traditional sight-seeing bus tour with a boat ride in the Thames. The fun part is that this happens all on the same vehicle. The duck bus is an amphibious vehicle that can drive on land and on water. So in short, it’s a bus..and also a boat!
As sods law would have it, upon arrival we discovered that a Duck had earlier broken down, causing a ‘pile up’ of passengers who had consequently arrived for their scheduled tour. I must however, commend the professionalism and patience of the staff who were on duty, who kept us constantly updated and offered refunds or the opportunity to change tour times/dates to those who wanted them. We had to wait an extra hour to board after our planned 1pm tour but fortunately the sun was shining so the kids were happy to run around and play on the grassy verges and in the adventure playground by The London Eye.
Eventually a Duck arrived back from a tour and we clambered aboard, but as we were seated with half the group who were supposed to be on the tour before ours, my plan to get a good seat were dashed and I was seated at the back and had to place Cassius on my lap – so my photo opportunities were somewhat limited.
We took the Classic Sightseeing Tour, which started from the London Duck Tours bus stop near The London Eye. Off we went past the Houses of Parliament, Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, Pall Mall, Green Park, Hyde Park Corner, Buckingham Palace (no buses are allowed to drive in front of the palace, which is a shame), Westminster Abbey and along by the MI6 building.
Our duck, Elizabeth!
View through the ‘window’ over Westminister Bridge
A quick selfie as we sailed down the Thames
Obviously the highlight of the tour was the trip down the Thames and after a quick safety demo and driver swap, the buzz in the air was undeniable. Shrieks of excitement from all ages filled the air as we accelerated and entered the Thames with a huge splash, beside the M16 building – and thankfully nobody got wet either! Cassius absolutely loved it, and wouldn’t stop giggling as we made our way up the Thames towards Parliament, did a u-turn and headed back towards the MI6 building where we came out of the water, swapped drivers again and headed back to the start of the tour.
The tour lasted 75 mins – 45 of those were on land, before we entered the water. I think the duration is ideal for a family outing without the children getting bored, and the pace is fast moving and exciting. Our tour guide was great fun and his silly jokes and fun facts held our attention and made the experience a lot of fun. Did you know there are 775 rooms in Buckingham Palace?!
London Duck Tour With A Toddler: Top Tips
- There is no toilet on board the Duck, so it’s best to go beforehand. There are free (and clean) toilets in the Royal Festival Hall ( which is less than 5 mins walk away).
- No hot food and drink is allowed on board. Cassius got hungry during the tour and ate his packed lunch with no problems.
- Plan to arrive about 15 / 20 minutes early, as you board the Duck in the order of who checked in first.
- The tour has open ‘window’s’ so do wrap up warm, if it’s not the height of summer. I felt a bit chilly at times and I rarely feel cold!
- Buggies aren’t allowed on board, but they can be left safely with the staff at the check in desk and collected upon your return.
- Pre-booking online is recommended as the tours do get busy – especially during summer. Go to London Duck Tours to book.
The prices as of April 2017 are as follows:
Adults – £27
Children (1+) – £19
Under 1’s – Free
- The tour is not recommended for children under the age of 3, but passengers under 3 are permitted to travel at parent’s discretion.
I was invited as a guest of London Duck Tours and received complimentary tickets for the purpose of this review.