While London is on one of Britain’s most important waterways, the River Thames is about 40 miles from the nearest seaport. Still, London is a feature of many ocean cruise itineraries, including cruises of the British Isles, Baltic Sea and North Sea. If you can add a few days in London to the beginning or end of a cruise, you’ll have a wonderful land and sea experience.
Only a few small (and often luxurious) ships are able to dock in or close to London, either at Tower Bridge, in the historic suburb of Greenwich, or at a small cruise terminal at Tilbury. From any of those locations, it’s a quick ride via cab, Underground or train into the city.
It’s more likely that your ship will dock at Dover or Southampton on the English Channel, or Harwich on the North Sea. All three are just an hour or two from London via train. Harwich is a quiet port, but at Dover, you may want to walk atop the famed white cliffs and tour Dover Castle. At Southampton, be sure to look around the historic waterfront: this is where the Mayflower set sail for the New World and where the Titanic began its tragic maiden voyage.
Take a twirl on the London Eye, a huge Ferris wheel on the south bank of the Thames, to get a birds-eye overview of the city. The Houses of Parliament, St. Stephen’s Tower and its clock, Big Ben, are especially stunning when viewed across the river. Stroll through a chain of beautiful parks – St. James, Green, Hyde and Kensington– stopping to admire Buckingham and Kensington Palaces.
The layout of London’s streets is baffling, but its center is very walkable, with a cozy pub, fashionable boutique, or national treasure seemingly on every block. Like many of London’s museums, the British Museum charges no admission to see priceless items such as the Rosetta Stone, suits of armor, Egyptian mummies and Greek antiquities.
In the evening, enjoy one of London’s many excellent restaurants – the city’s dining scene has become fabulously diverse – and take in a show at one of the theaters around Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus.
As fall approaches, cruise ships will begin to leave the region for winter cruising in the Mediterranean; ask Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, about repositioning cruises that can take you from London all the way to Italy or Greece.
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