Last Sunday the sun shone and we caught the train from home telling Monkey we were going on an adventure. We’d be doing something a little bit different and Monkey would be facing a fear head on. We would be exploring our capital city on roads and water with London Duck Tours.
We’ve experienced open top bus tours before, and on previous visits to London we’ve seen the London Duck Tours vehicles as we’ve walked around the city. Explaining to Monkey that these special vehicles can actually go on water too, had him mesmerised. There are 9 DUKW’s within the fleet, which have been refitted and modernised from their original Second World War Army format. Each vehicle is named after a character from a Shakespearian play, our’s was to be Titania, a good omen seeing as A Midsummer’s Night Dream is one of my favourites. It was good fun spotting the other vehicles throughout our trip on roads and water with London Duck Tours.
We started our tour on roads and water with London Duck Tours at their meeting point on Belvedere Road which is next to Jubilee Gardens on the Southbank, and a few minutes walk from Waterloo station. We’d been advised to arrive at least 15 minutes before our timed departure, we were there about 25 minutes early, which meant we got called onto Titania first, giving us the pick of the 30 available seats.
I knew Monkey would be fine with the road part of our tour, but over the last couple of years, he’s developed a fear of boats, from nowhere. We’d watched videos of the London Duck Tours before we left home, so he could see that they don’t go at the speed of a speedboat, and that he wouldn’t get wet at all. He seemed ok, actually he seemed rather excited, but as any parent will tell you, you never 100% know that all will be well. But, I really needn’t have worried, Monkey faced his fear head on, and he absolutely loved every moment of our tour.
I think his enjoyment was probably assisted by our guide, Nick. I’d read that the tours are often conducted by actors, and Nick was definitely theatrical, and perfect for children. With a lovely of all things military, he was a fountain of knowledge and kept everyone captivated for the tour, which lasts approximately 75 minutes. The tour is presented in English only, worth knowing if you are travelling with friends from overseas.
We had been advised when we checked in that our route would feature a diversion from the advertised Classic Sightseeing Tour as there were major road works around Buckingham Palace causing long delays. This didn’t bother us really, as we’ve been to the palace a number of times over the last few years. It also meant we got to see Sloane Square and part of Pimlico, both areas that none of us had seen before. As well as the Classic Tour, the company run a number of themed tours and I think at some point we will have to treat Daddy P to the James Bond Tour which runs on the third Sunday of every month.
Once our safety briefing was completed, it was time to start exploring on roads and water with London Duck Tours as we passed the South Bank area, Waterloo Station and on towards Westminster Bridge. With recent events we couldn’t help but notice the floral tributes on the bridge and in front of the Houses of Parliament. Monkey and I took a moment to reflect, but it was lovely to see so many people enjoying our beautiful capital on a lovely, sunny Spring day.
I don’t think I’ll ever tire of seeing the majestic Palace of Westminster and Westminster Cathedral. Spotting Red Telephone boxes is always a must when we visit London, and it was really interesting to see just how many sights a 7-year-old Monkey could point out from our previous trips. We waved to the police on guard at Downing Street and to the horses on duty at Horse Guards before heading down towards Trafalgar Square and Nelson’s Column.
We saw St James Palace in all it’s glory, but sadly didn’t have time to stop for tea at The Ritz. Maybe another time. We passed through Belgravia and Sloane Square, looking at all the fashion houses, private gardens and desirable residences, on to Pimlico and then down towards Vauxhall where we’d be entering the River Thames. Monkey was totally mesmerised, hanging off the guide’s every word.
As we arrived at the slipway down to the river our drivers switched, as you need a special water pilot to navigate the Thames waterway. Now for the moment of truth, how would Monkey react as we entered the water? We got to see another Duck coming back onto land before we went in, so he could get an idea of what would happen, and where we would sit in the water. He was fine, totally fine, there were actually squeals of delight, phew!
It was really rather surreal being on the water, where a few seconds before we’d been driving around on land. But it was also a brilliant experience, and somehow different from river cruises we’ve done pre-parenthood. Seeing London from the Thames is always a magical experience. Seeing the old and the new side by side, wondering how the views will change again in Monkey’s lifetime.
Exploring our capital on roads and water with London Duck Tours, was a really fun experience and one I’d thoroughly recommend.
Is it great for kids? Absolutely, my 7-year-old was glued to the views and the guide throughout. I’d been expecting some murmurs of impending hunger pains as our tour proceeded into lunchtime. But not a mention was made of needing food at all, which is always a good sign. He loved every single minute of the tour and didn’t want it to end.
It was time to head out of the river and back onto dry land. Time to drive along the Albert Embankment, past the London Eye and back to base.
As soon as our tour was over, my son was asking when we could do the tour again. So I guess that means that the London Duck Tours got his seal of approval. It’s a little different from the normal sightseeing tours, and we all really liked it, and would definitely go on a Duck Tour again. For more information on the different tours available, pricing and times pop over to the London Duck Tours website.
You might want to pin this for later, if you’ve got a forthcoming trip to London planned.
disclosure: we were given complimentary tickets for the tour in exchange for an honest review.