Anyone who knows me knows how much I love London. I moved down here ten years ago now and I still love the place! I also love that we are raising our daughter here.
When we were contacted by London Duck tours to ask if we would like to review one of their tours of London, I jumped at the chance. We also had some friends visiting from the USA and knew that this would be a great way to get a whistle-stop tour of the sights and sounds of my favourite city.
We arrived early – after caffeinating – at the Duck meeting point near Waterloo station and joined the crowd of excited tour goers. It was a gorgeous day in London. I always think London looks so beautiful in the sun, so we couldn’t have picked a better day really. You see, this is no ordinary tour. You take your 70 minute(ish) ride on an amphibious DUKW vehicle, originally used in the second world war – most notably in the D-Day landings – but now refurbished and modernised so that folk can enjoy a tour of London on land AND SEA! I’ve never been more excited about a bus tour!
The ducks are all named after Shakespearean ladies. I had hoped that our duck would be “Mistress Quickly” as the name makes me chuckle, but when our duck arrived it was the lovely Elizabeth. I had been preparing Eden for a week or so previously by having her wave at ducks as they went past on the road and she gave Elizabeth a big wave as she arrived. We boarded, found great seats and were introduced to our guide, Michael and Duck Driver extraordinaire Mark.
We first set off across Westminster Bridge, taking in the London Eye and then the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. The guide’s commentary was amusing and informative and kept everyone interested, including a lot of the smaller guests on board. Eden mostly enjoyed staring out of the side of the bus and waving to passers-by. We headed through Parliament Square, up Whitehall passing the Horse Guards on the way and then through Trafalgar Square. Traffic got a little heavy around Mayfair and onto Piccadilly, but the entertaining commentary made up for the heavy traffic.
We took in the side of Buckingham Palace (as bus/boats aren’t allowed to pass in the front of the palace – which is actually the back…) and headed down across the river to Vauxhall, next to MI6. At this point our duck driver Mark left us, and we were joined by Waterman Ben, who would be in charge as we splashed down and took a leisurely cruise around the river. At this point we had a safety demonstration from our guide about how to don life jackets and similar if needed.
And then… SPLASHDOWN! This was my very favourite part of the tour – which I’m sure is the same for most people – just because it was so surreal. The sensation of going from driving around to floating was bizarre to say the least.
We then took a leisurely cruise around the river, hearing a little more history of the vehicle itself whilst taking in a quite different view of London from the River Thames. The River itself proved to be an interesting topic as we learnt that it is tidal, and despite looking pretty dirty is actually one of the cleanest rivers in the world with plenty of fish living in it. Before long we were back on dry land. Waterman Ben left us and we were joined once more by Mark, King of the Duck Without Power Steering – I kid you not, this vehicle looked like it was a HUGE effort to drive! We scooted back round to Waterloo, where our tour of London ended. Due to the traffic, I think our tour took a little longer than the advertised 70 minutes and was very enjoyable.
So, do I recommend the Duck Tours? Absolutely! We thought it was a great way to learn about London quickly and have a tour of some of the major sights. Our friends from the US were only here for a few days, so being able to pack so much in so quickly was very useful. They do recommend the tours for children over the age of three and that I do agree with. Eden had fun, but she did lose her mind about half way through as I’m guessing she was pretty bored. There was another young baby behind us who felt much the same. We adults had a fantastic time, though, and so did the older kids on board. I think it is definitely something that you could do a few times if you wanted, as I would imagine each guide brings their own flavour to proceedings.
For the classic London Tour, adult tickets are £27, children (1+) are £19 and there are concessions for OAP’s, students (with ID), people with disabilities and carers at £23. You can also buy a family tour ticket for either one adult and three children or two adults and two children for £79. London Duck Tours also run many different types of tours, including D-Day landing tours, James Bond Tours and Pirate Adventure Tours – so it’s worth a look if you have a specific interest.
You can find more information/book tickets at the London Duck Tours Website or call 020 7928 3132 to speak to a helpful human.
Disclaimer – We were provided with complimentary tickets for a Classic London Duck Tour for the purposes of an review, however our opinions remain our own.