Thames River Showboat Dinner Cruise
The Air Canada flight from London to Vancouver departs Heathrow around 10 in the morning. Disembarking in Southampton from the Queen Victoria after the Ballroom Dance Cruise around the British Isles, I knew that there would be no way to catch that flight, so I had elected to stay overnight at the Sheraton Heathrow Hotel near the airport and travel back to Canada the following day.
A friend, Nancy, who was traveling back to the US also had a flight the day after the cruise, so we decided to take a Thames River Dinner Showboat Cruise.
Several of us had booked a van to drive us from Southampton to London. After dropping the others off at the Heathrow terminals, the driver took us to our hotel. We had to wait quite a while to check in which was a bit annoying but we had arrived before the official check-in time so we could not really complain.
We unpacked the few things we needed for the night and then went down to talk to the concierge to figure out the best way to get to Westminster Millennium Pier, from where the cruise would leave.
The route was: walk a few blocks to bus-stop, ride bus to station, take London Underground with one change of line to Westminster tube station - and we would be right at the Pier area.
Other than the fact that the walk to the bus-stop was a lot further than we expected, and Nancy's shoes were not that great for walking, the trip was uneventful. We chatted to folks on the Underground - and one took the great picture of us posted above.
When we reached the vicinity of Westminster Millennium Pier we first checked out where we would need to go to board the City Cruise showboat.
Across the water on the South Bank we could see the London Eye. On my next visit I would definitely make a point of visiting it. I went on a smaller version in Liverpool and it is a great way to get a overview of the city.
We decided to enjoy a glass of wine and prudently also decided to share a Ploughman's Plate of mature cheddar cheese, crusty baguette bread, pickles, pickled onions and sliced apple.
Nancy tried a couple of red wines before settling on her choice. You can see her negotiating at the bar.
Perched on our high stools we relaxed and enjoyed our food and wine, until the place began to fill up and we felt it was time to wander over to the boarding site.
We watched several ships come by and unload passengers, and then observed the dinner cruise ship pull in and berth at the Pier.
The boat boarded promptly at 7:15 and were seated at a large table by ourselves. It was a quiet night obviously as only a few of the tables were occupied.
We were impressed by the two bottles of wine, one white, one red, before us and decided to indulge in a glass immediately.
As I had drunk very little alcohol over the 10 nights of the British Isles cruise, I thought I should probably be a bit cautious with my wine drinking but hey - now we had three hours ahead of us to eat and relax, and besides we were not driving anywhere ourselves.
One of the parties booked on the dinner cruise was late, so it was somewhat after 7:30 when we got underway. We started off with a salad.
Oak Smoked Scottish Salmon, King Prawns with Capers, Lemon and Dill Dressing
This was followed by a thick creamy and delicious soup of butternut squash flavoured with cumin and coriander. By this stage I was already feeling quite full.
As well, dusk was falling so before the next course was served, I took some photos of the buildings we were passing.
By this time the couple of glasses of wine I had already had were gently soothing my neurons and suggesting a good nap so I forgot to write down what building was what and just admired the structures.
I came back in for the main course of thyme, rosemary and lemon roasted chicken with creamy leek and tarragon mushroom sauce served with new potatoes and vegetables. It tasted much better than it looks in this picture. Dessert was a dark, milk and white Chocolate Mousse with Mango Coulis. Quite yummy.
The strange lighting is because the lights had been dimmed for the floor show which featured a singer doing a range of songs from musical theatre.
By the time the dinner and show was over it was quite dark and drizzling lightly on the few intrepid souls on the open deck. But the lights on both bank of the Thames were attractive to watch. I found myself comparing this river cruise with the dinner and day cruises on the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok where the banks were choked by water weeds and lined with small houses rather than official buildings.
We got back to Westminster Pier by 11 - and then, not wanting to ride the Underground at that hour, splurged on a taxi to take us back to the Sheraton.
The combination of activities plus the wine was quite tiring and my head barely hit the pillow before I was asleep. Next day - back to vancouver.