When I was approached by Red Letter Days a couple of weeks ago, asking if I’d like to take part in their #LiveALittle campaign and experience Powerboating with Thames Rockets, I was all for it! Whether you’re a thrill seeker or foodie, Red Letter Days has the perfect experience for all tastes with everything from gourmet cooking classes to high-flying hot air balloon trips.
I made a promise to myself that this year I was going to step out of my comfort zone, accomplish certain goals I’d set and basically, live the best life I can, as life is quite frankly too short! I’m all for spontaneity and haven’t done too badly so far – from booking flights on a whim to finding myself halfway across the country visiting friends.
As we approached Westminster on Monday morning, it was already heaving with tourists queuing for the surrounding attractions such as The London Eye and The London Dungeons. I took my friend Candice along for the ride and were lucky that we had the best weather of the week, beautiful blue skies accompanied by spring sunshine which glistened over the Thames as we approached the pier.
We were the first to arrive at the jetty in front of the iconic London Eye, for our 11am ride of The Ultimate London Adventure. Full of excitement and slightly nervous anticipation, we took a selfie or 10 as we waited for other passengers to arrive and got ourselves ready. There is a platform at the front of the boat so getting on and off is the same level as the pier, making access very easy.
There are no seat belts on board (this is industry standard as you don’t want to be attached to the boat in the event of an accident). You keep your bag on the floor, between your feet – don’t worry, it won’t fly overboard! The seats are hard plastic with room for two people on either side. Each double seat has a fixed metal handrail to hold for safety and reassurance. Surprisingly I barely held onto it (okay, that’s a lie, when the boat swerved from side to side, I may have been gripping on for dear life!) and I was able to sit back, enjoy the views and comfortably take some photos along the way.
Thames Rockets take safety seriously, and we were given warm, waterproof jackets that fit easily over our outdoor coats. Life jackets are compulsory and there are children’s life jackets available too. Children can sit on a seat and even on your lap. There are also life jackets suitable for toddlers and they can supply a baby cradle too that you have on your lap. Buggies can be left at the Boarding Gate with staff. I’d love to take Cassius along on a ride, my little daredevil would love it. He’s been asking if he “can ride on the boat next time” since looking at my photos.
London being London, it can rain at any time, and if it does (the boat rides run in all weather) there are sailing trousers available to avoid wet legs and even goggles so that your viewing isn’t obscured! You’re unlikely to get wet on board (we didn’t), but there may be the odd spray from the river.
Please note, you can’t go on a Thames Rockets trip if you are pregnant.
Geoff was tour guide and he was on top form, leaving us in a fit of giggles and awe and he reeled off numerous random facts about our fab capital. It’s funny, growing up in London you think you know and have seen it all, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. As we breezed past sights such as the OXO Tower, HMS Victory and the This Morning studios, he kept us in high spirits and engaged us in chat which held our attention.
Geoff, our tour guide.
As we breezed under Tower Bridge, he explained that we were now out of the speed restriction zone, and would be shortly speeding up and it was at this point that my friend Candice, clutched onto me for dear life – she’s scared of water and speed (yeah, brilliant combination for this activity, I know!). Nick, our driver, didn’t disappoint and we were soon hurtling down the Thames with a Bond film soundtrack blaring out of the speakers at 35mph. In fact, there were quite a few sing-a-long songs on our river soundtrack. At one point I may have been singing (yelling) along to Wicked’s ‘Defying Gravity’. It was fab! Combined with the adrenaline and our screams of delight (aka fear!), we both had tears streaming down our faces in laughter, as the wind blew in our faces. It was hilarious. The boat was swerving from side to side, giving the impression we were going to capsize at any moment. Of course we didn’t, but that was part of the fun.
Although it was a glorious spring day in late March, we still felt quite cold when the boat was zooming along, so I’d recommend wearing warm layers, hat and gloves and even a hairband to tie your hair back to stop it from flying in your face. I pulled my hood up on the way back and did spare a thought for the passengers who had experienced this during the heavy snow a few weeks ago. They must have been freezing.
Thames Rockets offer a choice of trips and there are boarding locations at the London Eye Pier and in St Katharine’s Docks, near Tower Bridge, depending on the trip your choose.
There are always seasonal trips available such as the’Easter Eggs-Pedition’ and the ‘Jungle Bells Blast’ at Christmas. This is a good time to point out Thames Rockets run all year. The only weather that stops play is fog so rain and snow won’t stop the fun. There’s also a trip aimed at families (although families are welcome on all) plus a sightseeing tour with a short high speed section for those wanting to ease themselves into the experience.
We were on the water for the best part of an hour (50 mins) and we really enjoyed the sightseeing part of the journey and absolutely loved the high speed sections. I felt completely safe from start to finish and my friend, who managed to pass out on The London Eye (I kid you not) had a great time, which says a lot, despite her initial fears!
Don’t just take my word for it, Thames Rockets is consistently ranked number 1 of Outdoor Attractions in London on TripAdvisor. The reviews online say it all.
Pricing and trip info: www.thamesrockets.com
*I was provided with complimentary tickets for review purposes.