Set Sail for a Sunday Brunch London Cruise on the Thames

Sunday Brunch London Cruise on the Thames passing Tower of London

The Sunday Brunch London Cruise on the Thames combines a laid-back boat ride along top London sightseeing hotspots and a bottomless brunch buffet. It’s a unique opportunity to savour unparalleled riverside views of splendid London sights from the comfort of your dining table.

Simply lean back and tuck into a range of delectable dishes from perfectly spiced shakshuka to warm buttery Belgian waffles topped with maple syrup while you glide along the river Thames, the prominent blue (or rather, brown) artery that curves its way through the heart of the city.

Disclaimer: AD – Paid content. This article was written in collaboration with City Experiences and contains affiliate links.

Portrait of Dutch Girl in London at the table during the Sunday Brunch River Cruise with the skyscrapers in The City in the background

What is the Bottomless Sunday Brunch Cruise London?

One of the latest additions to their unique London Thames dining experiences – ranging from a river afternoon tea to entertaining murder mystery dinners – the Sunday Brunch London Cruise is hosted by City Experiences. This reputable company has been operating internationally for nearly 100 years now and their vessels are common fixtures on the river Thames.

Departing from Tower Bridge, one of the most beautiful bridges in London, the 2.5hr-brunch cruise is a great sightseeing tour as it brings you along some of the most famous attractions in London. 

view from the upper deck of City Experiences London cruise on the Thames. Nearby are three different couples sitting on the lounge seats with the Tower Bridge behind them in the near distance

However, since it’s not a dedicated sightseeing tour, but rather a dining experience, there’s no audio commentary about the sights you’re passing. This does mean that you can just sit back and fully enjoy the wonderful spread and quality time with your friends or family. 

“The Thames is no ordinary waterway, it is the golden thread of our nation’s history.”

– Winston Churchill

Spinning records from the upstairs bar, the on-board DJ provides a foot-tapping soundtrack of anything from Katy Perry to Sean Paul. If you desire some after brunch dancing, you can show off your wicked dance moves on the dedicated dance floor. Prefer to take it easier after eating? Then you can chill out on the loungers on the upper deck which is pure bliss on a sultry summery day in the city!

Collage of two vertical photos of London Eye (left) and The Shard (right) seen from the water
London Eye (left) and The Shard (right) seen from the water

On-board food and drinks

Once the boat has set off and all passengers have had the chance to settle in whilst sipping on their complimentary glass of bubbly, it’s time for brunch!

Serving up a variety of warm Sunday brunch favourites such as shaksuka – I highly recommend it! –  scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, hash browns, American pancakes and Belgian waffles, the waiters seem to have an infinite supply of these popular dishes. 

collage of two vertical photos. On the left a close up of chafing dishes with shakshuka, waffles, pancakes and serving platters filled with bagels and pastries. On the photo on the right a close-up of the pastries and rolls with behind it view of the river bank showing Cleopatra's Needle, an ancient Egyptian obelisk
Can you spot the authentic ancient Egyptian obelisk? (Hint: it’s in the photo on the right…)
Close-up of the buffet showing six chafing dishes with sausages, bacon, scrambled eggs and hasbrowns. Can't see what's in the last two dishes. There are two staff members standing by the table but you can only see their torsos.

And have I mentioned the delicious freshly prepared tabbouleh or smoked salmon cream cheese bagels and Danish pastries yet? 

Close-up of the buffet table with large serving platters filled with rolls, croissants, Danish pastries, bagels (cut in half) and tabbouleh

But wait, there’s even more! Because when you think it’s all over and the staff finally clear the chafing dishes off the tables, it’s time for dessert! 

Be aware of this before you gorge into a stack of waffles, drowning them in golden syrup thinking brunch is nearly over (I may or may not speak from experience), as else you may:

A) regret your waffle faux-pas and have no space left for dessert.
B) have no space but eat dessert anyway and risk a true sugar high.

Guess which of these options applied to me …

I reckon dessert varies per cruise as according to the online menu it’s rocky road cheesecake, but when I went on the cruise, they served chocolate orange mousse with a side of forest fruits. And if there’s one thing in the world I can’t resist, then it’s chocolate! 

Collage of two vertical photos. Both show food and are taken from above. On the left: a plate of a Belgian waffle and American pancake with maple syrup, also a plate with shakshuka, tabbouleh, half a bagel and small roll. On the right: slice of chocolate cake with a side of forest fruits

Ding ding ding … there’s the answer to the quiz above (option B)!

There’s complimentary tap water, coffee and tea available from the bar, but all additional drinks (alcohol and soft drinks) aren’t included in the price and can be purchased separately from the upstairs bar.

What about special dietary requests?

After booking, you can add any special dietary requests simply by clicking the ‘manage booking’ option in the top menu bar on the website at least 72 hours prior to departure. 

I don’t have any personal experience about how special dietary requests are handled with. My only request was to have pork-free options and those were plentiful indeed. According to their online information, the kitchen can offer gluten free, vegan and vegetarian on request. 

What I did find remarkable, and slightly disappointing, was the lack of an alcohol-free welcome drink.

The bar on the upper deck showing fridges filled with bottles of beer and on top bottles of wine, soft drinks and liquor

Where does the Sunday brunch cruise start and finish?

The Sunday Brunch Thames Cruise is operated by City Experiences and their boats both depart from and finish at the Tower Millennium Pier (Lower Thames Street, EC3N 4DT). 

Photo taken from the pier. Passengers are boarding the City Cruises boat which is called Erasmus. On the other side of the river we can see HMS Belfast and the bottom of The Shard skyscraper
Spot the Dutch reference in this photo!

You’ll find the pier right on the waterfront at the end of the boulevard, passing the entrance to the Tower of London on your left. Right next to the pier you’ll see restaurants like Paul Bakery and Coppa Club on your right-hand side. 

The nearest stations are Tower Hill Tube Station (serviced by the Circle and District Lines) and Tower Gateway (DLR).

How long is the Sunday brunch London Thames cruise?

The cruise takes approximately 2.5 hours. Boarding starts from 12.15pm and departure is around 12.30pm. It then takes about 20-30 minutes for the buffet to open. 

Warm food lasted for just over an hour when I joined the cruise (so, till around 2pm), but we could help ourselves to dessert, bagels, pastries waffles and pancakes until we docked around 3pm again.

What sights do you see during the London Sunday Brunch Thames Cruise?

Departing from the Millennium Pier next to the iconic Tower Bridge you’ll get to enjoy truly unique and stunning views of London’s numerous famous riverside attractions. 

First going westwards, you’ll be cruising underneath Tower Bridge, catching glorious views of the majestic Tower of London, the curiously shaped City Hall with The Shard towering over it in the near distance, and the impressive HMS Belfast 9-deck war ship. 

View of HMS Belfast with behind it The Shard skyscraper in the near distance
HMS Belfast and The Shard London

Shortly afterwards you’ll pass Hay’s Galleria, the anonymous looking London Bridge, followed by the far more striking Millennium Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, St Paul’s Cathedral, Monument, Cleopatra’s Needle, the Southbank Centre and London Eye, the world’s fifth largest Ferris wheel! 

“The Thames is liquid history.”

– John Burns

After having ticked off most bucket list sights in Central London, the boat turns ’round again, resuming the gentle cruise eastwards. 

First admiring the modern business district of Canary Wharf with its iconic skyscrapers reminiscent of typical American skylines, you’re treated to incredible views of the historic Cutty Sark tea clipper and the stunning Old Royal Naval College.

Riverside view of the Old Royal Naval College London taken through the boat window
Old Royal Naval College

Dating back to the 18th century, this handsome building complex has featured in numerous Hollywood films and is located in the heart of Maritime Greenwich, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in London. It’s a fascinating juxtaposition with the famous O2 stadium, which you’ll get to see up close next during this river cruise. Shortly afterwards, the boat turns ’round one more time to return to the pier.

Who is the Sunday Brunch Thames Cruise suitable for?

London tourists

Being so familiar with all these famous London attractions, I appreciated seeing them from a new vantage point, allowing me to admire them in all their glory and discovering so many details that remain obscured to pedestrians.

But what I enjoyed most of all about the cruise is that it revealed so many gorgeous former warehouses and restored wharf buildings you’d usually never get to see. And, I didn’t realise it was even possible, but the Royal Naval College looked even more imposing from the water than seeing it from street level!

However, there’s one thing you need to bear in mind if you’re a first-time visitor to London. This cruise is meant as a dining experience and NOT a sightseeing tour. So, while you might be passing lots of interesting and must-see London attractions, there’s no audio commentary telling you what these are. I enjoyed not having to listen to this information whilst eating and preferred having chilled out dance and pop music in the background instead. But, if your goal is to learn more about London during the cruise, then this is important to know.

Collage of two vertical portraits of Dutch Girl in London taken on the top deck of the Sunday brunch London river cruise. In the photo on the left, HMS Belfast is slightly visible in the background and in the photo on the right, Tower Bridge is slightly visible

Age and types of visitors

There’s no age limit for participants, and we had several groups of people on board, ranging from couples to families, groups of friends and even a small hen party. (Who were very well behaved thankfully and I didn’t see or hear at all during the cruise.) 

Also, if you’re a foodie, bear in mind that the cruise is more about the experience rather than indulging in beautifully presented freshly prepared and original dishes. There are some healthier options available, but the majority of the dishes could be considered as comfort food or delicious naughty Sunday treats, perfect to nurture a hangover. And for those on a budget, do remember that alcoholic or soft drinks aren’t included in the ticket price.

The boat layout and accessibility

The boat has three different decks. Food is served on the lower deck where you are seated upon boarding. The DJ booth is on the first floor where you’ll also find a cosy indoors lounge area, the dance floor and bar where you can purchase drinks. There’s also space to sit or stand outside but the upper deck (so, second floor) is the best space for lounging in the sunshine whilst enjoying panoramic views of London’s varied skyline. 

dining area of the Sunday brunch London cruise. Tables are set up in 3 rows with each table holding 4-6 people
the lounge area on the upper floor with a comfy leather sofa and wooden coffee tables. In the near distance you can see Cutty Sark and the Old Royal Naval College
The comfy lounge area on the upper floor with great views of Cutty Sark and Old Royal Naval College

To access the boat, you have to go down about two few small steps. Once on board, the different decks can be reached by small staircases. If you’re a wheelchair user or disabled person, it might be wise to contact the company beforehand to check if the boat on your desired cruise date is accessible.

DJ playing on the upper deck during the Sunday Brunch London Cruise with in the background a few passengers sitting and standing outside on deck

What is the social distancing policy on board?

Staff follow the government guidelines regarding social distancing. When I went on the cruise, there were no social distancing measurements in the UK.

With only a few exceptions, all tables fit four people. The majority of tables are set up at the front of the boat, but my friend and I were seated further towards the back (near the entrance and right next to the food, score!) where we had the whole table for the both of us with only one more couple sitting behind us. 

All along the lower deck the small windows were opened allowing fresh air to come in (which was lovely as it was a very hot day). Obviously, the upper decks are either entirely or semi open.

For more information about the latest measurements on board, accessibility, cruise specifics and updates, a sample food menu and more, please visit the City Experiences website.
And for ideas on what to do after your relaxing river cruise, head over to my blog post Unique things to do in London on a Sunday only.

4 thoughts on “Set Sail for a Sunday Brunch London Cruise on the Thames

  1. It sounds like a lovely Sunday experience, tasty as well! Viewing all the buildings from the water is probably very different, I appreciate that. Thanks for mentioning the steps and staircases, this is important information for people like me in case I ever get to do something like this.
    Great to get a new blog post, I do miss them!
    Lots of love Esther

  2. Sounds like a really inspiring and fun experience. Beautiful photos too!

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