Last night, we were sitting in our London hotel room, watching the news and we were surprised to hear about an accident with one of the boats on the London Duck Tours.
About a month ago, on the second day of our epic UK vacation, we took a London Duck Tour.
Besides the obvious lure of riding in a vehicle that goes on both land and water, the London Duck Tours are a great way to see the city. In ninety minutes, we drove past many of the major London landmarks and got a lot of Historical information from our guide, Nathan.
We rode on an amphibious bus named Rosalind. All of the vehicles in the fleet are named after Shakespearian characters. The one involved in the recent accident was named Cleopatra.
I love the rubber ducky on the front of the vehicle.
The seating is done on a first come-first serve basis (arrive early) and we were able to board first. We grabbed a prime spot right at the front of the boat, next to the guide.
Rosalind is seventy-one years old and is one of nine ducks in the fleet. She weights 9 1/2 tons ( Big Ben Bell is 13 1/2) and can be seen in movie Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger. Yes, that the title of an actual movie and here is a link to the trailer, in which Rosalind is prominently displayed.
Our guide, Nathan, was awesome, giving us tons local History, stories and facts. My favorite story was about a homeless man who managed to sneak into Buckingham Palace and into the queens bedroom. Security didn't detect him, so he ended up having a lengthy conversation with the queen, before he was finally escorted out. She treated him like a guest, rather than an intruder.
The land portion lasted an hour and we drove past many of the major tourist sites. The duck tour would be a great starting point for a London vacation, as it provides a quick overview of the city and helps get you oriented to the layout.
Nathan had us making quacking sounds and flapping our arms every time we passed another duck vehicle. It was frequent and kept the tour fun. I felt like Nathan did a wonderful job at keep our group engaged and participating. He even walked around the boat to greet everyone, to take picture and answer questions.
Our driver, Steve, was also a delight. As we were sitting up front, we interacted with him a bit. Unfortunately, Steve was not authorized to drive the duck on the Thames, so when we got to the river portion of the journey, he switched out with another driver. The driver for the river portion was very surly. He never even cracked a smile or engaged with the group. He left my only negative impression of the experience.
It was fun to have the duck go from land to water. The launch into water is pretty exciting, because it moves fast and you just don't know what to expect. The launch area is a bit downhill. so it's a bumpy ride into the water. They play the James Bond theme during the launch, so it feels covert!
I was worried about getting wet, but the boat has a plastic tarp that can be lowered to prevent splashing. I didn't lower the splash guard and as I was sitting by the window, I only got a few drops on my arm. We went when the water was calm. It probably would have been a very different experience on a choppy day. The Thames is not the kind of water that you want to have on your skin.
Here we are, happy on our London Duck Tour!
The London Duck Tour is a must-do for anyone visiting the city. Dan worked in London for many years and still had a great time on the tour. He even learned new things about the city. It's not just for London newbies, like me!