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24 April 2014

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Thames Venues - Messing about on the river

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An event by the Thames is hard to beat – but an event on the Thames might just manage it. Here’s our pick of the best party boats and river experiences for groups

London Rib Voyages - 24.jpgWhy just admire the river from afar when you could be sailing on the crest of a (all right, very small) wave? A cruise on the Thames is arguably the best way to see London and there are plenty of vessels aimed at the event market.
The first port of call for many is Bateaux London (tel: 020 7695 1800), a company operated by Sodexo, that has a pair of river cruisers. The larger of the two is Symphony, a striking 200-seater with a glass roof and walls that make the most of the view – best taken in at night. Naticia, hosting up to 80, has two levels: a nifty gallery overlooking the dance floor and a viewing area out back.
Recently bought by Merlin Entertainments The London Eye Barracuda (tel: 020 7759 1900) is an art-deco-style cruiser with gorgeous fabrics by Osborne & Little that carries up to 230 guests. Two decks are available, the upper with a retractable roof, well-positioned above the dance floor.
Amphibious crafts aren’t the preserve of Bond movies – corporates can use London Duck Tours (tel: 020 7401 0906) and its flock of boat-cum-cars for events. Each can take up to 30 people on a trip around London’s landmark inland sights, which can be tailored to take in your chosen places of interest, before seamlessly ploughing into the Thames.
If you’re in a hurry, check out London RIB Voyages (tel: 020 7928 8933), which ferries guests from The London Eye to the Thames Barrier at a serious rate of knots. Popular with celebs and high rollers going to events at The O2, it’s a stylish way to navigate the river. For a more gentle option, head eastwards to Topsail Events (tel: 020 7022 2201) in Tower Hill. Atlantis, its oldest tall ship, was launched in 1905 and has plenty of space both above and below deck to for up to 138 guests.
Finally, the top-end Silver Fleet (tel: 020 7481 2711) has two glamorous river cruisers: Silver Sturgeon and Royal Nore. The Sturgeon has a swanky teak deck up top, with facilities to cater for a whopping 586 guests. The Nore is much smaller and best suited to private dining for up to 16 guests. Both are catered by Rhubarb on the River, arguably the finest caterer to sail the seven seas.

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