* Prices may differ from that shown
Bateaux London Restaurant Cruise
Last year for mine and my husbands joint birthday, my mum and step dad surprised us with a Red Letter Day Experience for a three course meal on a cruise ship down the river Thames. I was not sure what I would think of this at first, though was extremely grateful for the wonderful gift. My husband is also a little afraid of boats, so it was an experience which we waited for with mixed emotions, though excitement gradually grew as the date of our trip came nearer.
BOOKING, PRICES AND DIRECTIONS
As we received this experience as a gift, we booked via the Red Letter Day website, which was very quick and easy once we navigated the sign in features. Obviously, if you are booking this cruise through Bateaux directly, booking will be slightly different. From what I can gather on the direct website, you book online and are sent a gift receipt which is pretty much like the Red Letter Day way of booking, though you deal completely with Bateaux themselves rather than a third party.
The cancellation allowance of time is very reasonable, with this option being allowed up to one week before your booked cruise. As far as I understand from the information we received when booking, if you cancel after this allotted time, you will not be able to reschedule and will not get any money back, though this is something to look into more closely if need be.
Bateaux London offers a wide variety of different cruises to suit different peoples needs and wants, each at varying times and prices. As we have only been on the one type of cruise, I can not comment in depth on how the other ones are, though I would imagine that such aspects like service and voyage would be very similar. There are also a few boats which participate in the cruises.
To give you an idea what cruises are available, take a little look below. For more information, check out the Bateaux London website: www.bateauxlondon.com.
Departure times for the lunch cruise is 12.15 and 1.00 and are mainly available Wednesday's through to Saturdays with additional Tuesday cruises between the months of May and September. There are three boats available for this cruise which include Symphony, Naticia and Harmony.
There are two different types of ticket for this cruise. The first is the Classic which is a 1.5 hour cruise with a three course set menu meal with tea and coffee for afterwards. The second is the Elite which offers the same as the classic with a few small extras such as a guaranteed window seat, half a bottle of house wine and half a bottle of mineral water!
Classic prices: £32 per person, £22 per child between the ages of 5 to 12 years.
Elite Prices: £43 per person, with no differing prices for child as far as I can tell.
*Sunday Lunch Jazz Cruise*
Departure times for this cruise are 12.15 and 1.00, every Sunday excluding any closure dates and special events.
The cruise lasts 2.5 hours with a three course set menu, tea and coffee and a live jazz band onboard. The Elite ticket allows the same extras as the main lunch meal.
Classic prices: £48 per adult, £32 per child
Elite prices: £62 per person
*Afternoon Tea Cruise*
This cruise is only offered on Wednesdays between 4th April to 30th May, and on Sundays from June to November. There is only one boarding time on each of these days which departs at 3.30pm.
The cruise is one hour, 15 minutes long with a selection of sandwiches, pastries and cakes available alongside an assortment of teas and entertainment from a solo piano. The elite ticket offers a window seat and a glass of champagne as extra.
Classic prices: £29.50 adult, £20.00 child
Elite prices: £39.50 per person
This cruise departs at 7.15pm and 8.00pm daily from April to December, with fewer days on the other months.
This cruise lasts two and three quarter hours and offers three ticket assortments. Everyone receives a welcome drink, a four course a la carte menu with tea and coffee and a live band on board. The Premier ticket offers house wine and mineral water with dinner, and the Elite offers an extra course, a window table, champagne, wines from the elite wine list, and an after dinner liquor.
Classic prices: £78 per person
Premier prices: £99 per person
Elite prices: £125 per person
In addition to the prices stated above, you can also book your ticket inclusive of a London Eye flight. To see these prices, please visit the website.
The Bateaux also offer private dining parties from £32 per person (lunch) and £78 per person (dinner). Festive celebration cruises are also available.
The Bateaux cruises are very easy to get to by train. Simply travel on the underground to Embankment and as you come out of the right side of the station, cross the road and the Embankment pier is to your left! You can also exit from Waterloo station which is just a short walk over the Thames (on a bridge of course!). Charring Cross station is also a possibility and is just around the corner. Depending upon where you are travelling from depends on which station is best for you, so do check before leaving on your trip.
OUR CRUISE EXPERIENCE
We partook in a lunch cruise on Symphony with the Classic ticket.
The dress code was smart-casual, though I believe that for the dinner cruise, this is smart dress only.
Having reached the Embankment pier successfully, we made our way to the Bateaux office which is on a floating platform on the Thames. We arrived for 11.40 and all set to depart at 12.15, though there seemed to be a slight delay as we did not board until 12.30. Not a problem, though, as the waiting area was very comfortable with a lovely view of the Thames. Unfortunately there are no toilets in this waiting area, and trust me to need it!
The boat was lovely. Although it did not look overly fantastic from the outside, the inside felt as though you had walked right into a very posh French restaurant. The main entrance came into a bar area and the front and back of the boat contained the lovely dining areas. The dark flooring looked fantastic next to the all glass sides and tinted glass roof. There is also an outside viewing area to the back of the boat. The toilets were situated downstairs. Although there is a ramp on to the boat, I am unsure as to whether there was any disabled toilet access. This information is not available on the website either.
Once on the boat we were shown our table by a very happy young man and almost straight away we were offered water in our glasses. We then waited for the other passengers to board. As we had a classic ticket, we were unfortunately not by a window, though there are only a couple of tables next to each other and so we still had a great view out of the front and sides of the boat. Unfortunately, we were kept waiting a while longer as a large group had not arrived. Although it stated upon our booking form that the boat would not wait for late arrivals, we did not leave until nearer 1.00, with the meal not being served until a little after that.
According to the website, all food is prepared freshly onboard.
As mentioned above, there is a set menu to this cruise. Other types of cruises may differ in the menu.
Smoked and Poached Salmon Roulade
Chicken En Croute
Duchess Potatoes, French Beans
Macaroon Biscuit, Dark Chocolate Sauce
Fairtrade Tea or Coffee
As well as the above menu, there is a vegetarian option available.
Both myself and my husband are meat eaters, though I have an allergy to fish and could not therefore eat the set starter. After speaking with a member of staff, they offered me the vegetarian alternative for the starter only to which I was very grateful. Both myself and my husband absolutely adored the starter we each had (though my husband eats so much, his only complaint was that he wanted more of it!). I am not entirely sure what I ate as I could not understand the waiter who told me, though it had a lovely delicate orange taste to it with some soft cheese on top. Absolutely superb, and no matter what my husband thought, it was a perfect size. I also loved that the starters were served on slate plates which gave a fantastic effect.
The dinner was just as fantastic as the starter, though again, my husband felt it was very small. Unfortunately, I did find a rather large bit of wrapping on the outside of my chicken. It did not put me off my meal in the slightest, though, as I knew it was what the food was wrapped in, though when a lovely lady waitress came to collect our plates, she immediately noticed it on the side of my plate. I was not going to say anything about it as the meal was beautiful, though she took the plates and came back to let us know that she thought it was bad that I had found it in my dinner, and the manager was taking some money off of our drinks (yes, drinks are not included in the booking price). At the end of the meal, we were given our bill and found out that our drinks were actually given to us completely free of charge! Fantastic service and I had not even been worried about finding the wrapping!
Desert was received by myself and my husband differently. My husband loved it, though I felt it was a little too much after the dinner, and only managed to eat a little of it before I was completely full. I could not even have coffee afterwards, though my husband was very happy to have his complementary one!
Dinner was served extremely efficiently throughout. I am one of those people who does not like waiting long between meals, and this service was fantastic. There was just the right amount of time in between each course to chat and let your stomach relax.
There is no entertainment during the meal apart from some lovely music to get you in a romantic mood played through speakers.
There are boat restaurants on the Thames which offer a dining experience only, though aboard the Bateaux boats, a short cruise is also offered. The cruise lasts throughout your meal with some time afterwards to relax and take in the sights.
There is some commentary through parts of the cruise which enlighten you about the history of the landmarks you pass, though whilst we were eating, I barely heard any. On our return journey, there was more commentary and what I did hear, I found quite interesting.
The cruise route depends upon the time of journey as well as tides, though we did go down a lovely length of the Thames and saw a few interesting parts. Some landmarks we went past include;
Houses of Parliament, Old County Hall, London Eye, Cleopatra's Needle, HMS Belfast, Tower of London, Canary Warf, The Cutty Sark. We also went under numerous bridges, and unless you are interested in the history of these bridges, I feel that these are not overly important. I did enjoy seeing Tower Bridge, London Bridge and the Millennium Bridge, though.
For the most part of the way up the Thames, we were eating, though were able to see out of the windows to a nice degree. Obviously, those at the window seats would have had a much better view, though there were areas to stand and take photos if you were so inclined. It was on the return journey where I had more time to look at the sights, and myself and my husband went out the back of the boat to the viewing area for a while. Although the day was chilly, we were lucky enough to have a little sun on our backs! The noise hit us, though, as the engines were rather loud, though I did enjoy being in the fresh air and was able to take a number of photographs.
My mum and stepdad have been on this cruise before and were offered by a member of staff, to have a photograph taken of them on the back of the boat, though this was not offered to us. Luckily, a lovely couple took our photo as we returned the favour.
There were quite a number of staff aboard the boat and everything ran smoothly. I did notice at one point that a couple of tables had been missed, though, on one course which was not good, though service to our table could not be better. The generosity with the piece of wrapping in my meal which resulted in free drinks was absolutely brilliant, and all the staff members who served us in one way or another were very pleasant, helpful and happy which was fantastic.
As you may have gathered from my comments above, drinks are not included in the booking ticket price. We did have a glass of mineral water and complementary tea or coffee after our meal, though other drinks did need to be paid for (unless you found food wrapping in your meal!). The prices were surprisingly decent. The alcoholic drinks were a little above average with £5 for a pint of beer, though soft drinks were much better with my glass of coke coming in at £2.00. I had expected much higher prices due to the price of the cruise and the establishment, though was pleasantly surprised.
Myself and my husband thoroughly enjoyed our experience on our cruise. It is certainly an expensive trip, though a wonderful atmosphere and great food. I felt it was also quite romantic and considering my husband and I rarely have time out alone as we love to spend family time alongside our five year old daughter, it was time well deserved!
This is a fantastic gift for someone, or to treat yourself and as the boat caters for parties as well as couples, this experience can be enjoyed by anyone whether they are celebrating something or just want a relaxing meal whilst experiencing a trip down the Thames.
I fully recommend this trip if you ever get the opportunity.