Leaving London on Thames by Cruise Ship

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#1
Maryland
4,909 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
We are on a smallish cruise ship leaving Greenwich, which means we'll be heading down (up?) the Thames to head out to sea. Would anyone know or be able to venture a guess as to how long it takes a cruise ship to get from the floating pontoon at Greenwich out to sea, or where we might be in two hours' time? I know it probably isn't too scenic, but I was wondering what I might be able to see before it gets dark, which I believe will be around 9:20 PM.

Also, I usually go to marinetraffic.com to get an idea of such things, but so far haven't been able to find a port website to tell me when cruise ships might be leaving from Greenwich. Is there a port website that would at least show that?
#2
London
22,104 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Originally posted by roothy123
We are on a smallish cruise ship leaving Greenwich, which means we'll be heading down (up?) the Thames to head out to sea. Would anyone know or be able to venture a guess as to how long it takes a cruise ship to get from the floating pontoon at Greenwich out to sea, or where we might be in two hours' time? I know it probably isn't too scenic, but I was wondering what I might be able to see before it gets dark, which I believe will be around 9:20 PM.

Also, I usually go to marinetraffic.com to get an idea of such things, but so far haven't been able to find a port website to tell me when cruise ships might be leaving from Greenwich. Is there a port website that would at least show that?
https://www.pla.co.uk/Port-Trade/Shi...vements?flag=5 (for arrivals) and https://www.pla.co.uk/Port-Trade/Shi...vements?flag=6 (for departures). Your ship (Viking Star arriving on 16 June and departing on 17 June, I believe?) isn't yet in the list, but it should show up in due course.

Getting "out to sea" from London is quite a broad concept, because the Thames estuary widens considerably as you head further out, and for a normal ship passenger you could pick any number of points at which you think you're "out at sea". I have no idea where the technical definition would place the beginning of "the sea", but I can't immediately think of anything worth seeing after you have passed under the QE2 bridge at Dartford, and Tilbury docks pretty much immediately after that. My guess is that that's perhaps an hour or so from Greenwich. Beyond that, I doubt that there is anything worth seeing that'll be visible from the ship, because the shoreline on both sides of the estuary will be receding from the ship.
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#3
Maryland
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Joined Mar 2004
Thank you; that's more than I had before. I'll check the port listing in a couple days if I can. I assume they list ships anchoring in Greenwich, although I couldn't find any in the arrivals list.

I'm really just wondering about seeing the following: Seeing O2, Emirates Air Line and Thames Barrier should be a given, as they're close. Then there's Trinity Buoy lighthouse near Bow Creek (before getting completely past 02 on north (?) shore) but it might be too small and distant to see very well. I thought about going to see it while in Greenwich, but it's rather complicated, at least on the weekend. Then just past the Queen Elizabeth bridge maps show "Stoneness lighthouse" on the south (?) shore. The picture I found show that it's not much to look at, but if it might be possible to see it, I wanted to at least try. From what you're guessing timewise, I'm thinking all of these things will be viewable, though perhaps not all that easily.
#4
London
22,104 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Originally posted by roothy123
Thank you; that's more than I had before. I'll check the port listing in a couple days if I can. I assume they list ships anchoring in Greenwich, although I couldn't find any in the arrivals list.

I'm really just wondering about seeing the following: Seeing O2, Emirates Air Line and Thames Barrier should be a given, as they're close. Then there's Trinity Buoy lighthouse near Bow Creek (before getting completely past 02 on north (?) shore) but it might be too small and distant to see very well. I thought about going to see it while in Greenwich, but it's rather complicated, at least on the weekend. Then just past the Queen Elizabeth bridge maps show "Stoneness lighthouse" on the south (?) shore. The picture I found show that it's not much to look at, but if it might be possible to see it, I wanted to at least try. From what you're guessing timewise, I'm thinking all of these things will be viewable, though perhaps not all that easily.
I'm pretty certain that the listing will include Greenwich. I think the absence of any listing for Greenwich is probably simply due to the fact that your ship's call at Greenwich will be the first since April.

If you actually sail at a reasonably conventional time (ie around 5 pm or even as late as 7 pm) I don't think you'll have any difficulties seeing any of the things you're interested in. The river is still relatively narrow as far down as the QE2 bridge and Tilbury. In any case, it's only technical sunset that's at 9.20 pm, and the sky will still be fairly light for another half an hour or so after that.

I did have a dig around to find where Stoneness light is - it's this one (and you can then zoom out). This is on the north (Essex) bank of the river.
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#5
Redditch England
1,808 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
The Thames barrier is upstream from Greenwick Pier so you won't see that unless you have time to take a short cruise up to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London after you drop your bags. Downstream it is all pretty flat and industrial as you can see from Google Maps.

https:[email protected]../data=!3m1!1e3
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#6
London
22,104 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Originally posted by Bob++
The Thames barrier is upstream from Greenwick Pier so you won't see that unless you have time to take a short cruise up to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London after you drop your bags. Downstream it is all pretty flat and industrial as you can see from Google Maps.
Ahem.

Greenwich Ship Tier: https:[email protected]../data=!3m1!1e3

Thames Barrier: https:[email protected]../data=!3m1!1e3

As usual, zoom out to see how these relate to each other.
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#7
Cotswolds, UK
2,278 Posts
Joined Nov 2010
Yes, to be more blunt than Globaliser, you got that one wrong, I'm afraid, Bob. Thames Barrier is downstream of Greenwich, so the OP WILL be passing through it on the way to the North Sea.

Here is PLA's Cruise Ship Diary, which shows all expected cruise ships calling at the various London terminals (that's London proper, not Dover, Southampton etc!) https://www.pla.co.uk/Travel/Cruise-...ise-Ship-Diary

OP, you probably know this, but the Thames lights are not really lighthouses in the usual sense - they are simple metal lattice towers, not substantial stone structures.


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#8
Maryland
4,909 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Everyone, thanks for the help. It looks like I can see what I want to see in an hour or hour and a half maximum. Yes, the Thames lighthouses are very blah, although many in Norway are even more blah, I notice. However, Trinity Buoy lighthouse is actually what I would call a "real" lighthouse - and a pretty interesting place: http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryMa...ly-Lighthouse/
#9
Cotswolds, UK
2,278 Posts
Joined Nov 2010
Originally posted by roothy123
Everyone, thanks for the help. It looks like I can see what I want to see in an hour or hour and a half maximum. Yes, the Thames lighthouses are very blah, although many in Norway are even more blah, I notice. However, Trinity Buoy lighthouse is actually what I would call a "real" lighthouse - and a pretty interesting place: http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryMa...ly-Lighthouse/


Yes, it's a "lighthouse", but it's no longer a Thames light, it's an art centre

Have a great time - it's a sail away not many have done!


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#10
Redditch England
1,808 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Originally posted by Cotswold Eagle
Yes, to be more blunt than Globaliser, you got that one wrong, I'm afraid, Bob. Thames Barrier is downstream of Greenwich, so the OP WILL be passing through it on the way to the North Sea.
Okay okay - no need to rub it in. I confused Gravesend with Greenwich when I checked the map. Maybe it's a good job I don't drive a cruise ship.
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#11
London
22,104 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Originally posted by roothy123
However, Trinity Buoy lighthouse is actually what I would call a "real" lighthouse - and a pretty interesting place: http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryMa...ly-Lighthouse/
If you are particularly interested in this, then it isn't actually that difficult to get to Trinity Buoy Wharf even without that shuttle ferry from North Greenwich pier.

Take the DLR from Cutty Sark (the closest DLR station to Greenwich Pier, where I think the ship's tender will drop you) to Canary Wharf. Change there for a train towards Stratford. Two stops on, at Poplar, change to any train going towards Beckton or Woolwich Arsenal. (Although this is a two-change journey, the change at Canary Wharf should be an easy cross-platform change). Get off at East India, and it's a 10-minute walk from there - see http://www.trinitybuoywharf.com/visit-us for further directions.

It's also possible to do it like this: DLR from Cutty Sark to Heron Quays. Change to the Jubilee Line - this requires a 3-minute out-of-station surface walk, but this is an official connection - to Canning Town (2 stops) then walk from there to Trinity Buoy Wharf as in those directions. (Changing from the DLR to the Jubilee Line via Heron Quays DLR is faster and easier than doing it via Canary Wharf DLR.)
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#12
Maryland
4,909 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Originally posted by Globaliser
If you are particularly interested in this, then it isn't actually that difficult to get to Trinity Buoy Wharf even without that shuttle ferry from North Greenwich pier.

Take the DLR from Cutty Sark (the closest DLR station to Greenwich Pier, where I think the ship's tender will drop you) to Canary Wharf. Change there for a train towards Stratford. Two stops on, at Poplar, change to any train going towards Beckton or Woolwich Arsenal. (Although this is a two-change journey, the change at Canary Wharf should be an easy cross-platform change). Get off at East India, and it's a 10-minute walk from there - see http://www.trinitybuoywharf.com/visit-us for further directions.

It's also possible to do it like this: DLR from Cutty Sark to Heron Quays. Change to the Jubilee Line - this requires a 3-minute out-of-station surface walk, but this is an official connection - to Canning Town (2 stops) then walk from there to Trinity Buoy Wharf as in those directions. (Changing from the DLR to the Jubilee Line via Heron Quays DLR is faster and easier than doing it via Canary Wharf DLR.)
I may try to squish a visit in, but my time is pretty limited and I'm not sure I want to do that. I was, in general, surprised to look on TFL and find that on the weekends, getting to central London or the other way (for Trinity Buoy Wharf) is more difficult than I thought, with Clipper service starting a bit later than I expected. With the DLR, there appear to be earlier and other options, plus 2 buses from across the Thames and through the tunnel that take me right to the wharf. But I'm probably better off taking the options with fewer changes, and least navigating, so I'm looking mostly at the Clipper for my day and a half Sat. afternoon to Sunday adventures.
Couple questions (for anyone):
Is there any public transportation pass that's good for a 24 hour period, or only starting 9 AM and running until midnight or 9 AM next day? If I want to take first Clipper at 8:55, would I be able to use any pass or day card?
Also, just curious: Is there a terminal or tent set up at Greenwich Pier when cruise shops are there?
#13
London
22,104 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Originally posted by roothy123
I was, in general, surprised to look on TFL and find that on the weekends, getting to central London or the other way (for Trinity Buoy Wharf) is more difficult than I thought, with Clipper service starting a bit later than I expected. With the DLR, there appear to be earlier and other options, plus 2 buses from across the Thames and through the tunnel that take me right to the wharf. But I'm probably better off taking the options with fewer changes, and least navigating, so I'm looking mostly at the Clipper for my day and a half Sat. afternoon to Sunday adventures.
Actually, having a deeper dig into the TfL website, I see that it's giving misleading information. It looks like there is no DLR between Poplar and East India on Saturday. So if you're going to Trinity Buoy Wharf, then DLR to Heron Quays and Jubilee Line to Canning Town looks like your better bet. It is a surer thing than trying to do it by bus.

The late start for Thames Clippers at the weekends is really due to its market - leisure trippers. Most people who want to get somewhere will be using some other form of transport. With the first DLR into town from Cutty Sark being at about 0530, there's no difficulty in getting into town! There is a distinct market for Thames Clippers as a commuter service during the weekday early mornings, but even so it's pretty specialist. You have to both live and work close to Thames Clippers piers for it to make sense, especially at the prices that they charge.

Originally posted by roothy123
Is there any public transportation pass that's good for a 24 hour period, or only starting 9 AM and running until midnight or 9 AM next day? If I want to take first Clipper at 8:55, would I be able to use any pass or day card?
There is a pass called the one-day Travelcard which is valid on the Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail, most National Rail trains running within the TfL area, all TfL buses and the Croydon tram. I think that any Travelcard is valid on any TfL bus, but everything else is zonal so you have to pay more to travel in more zones. Cutty Sark is in both Zones 2 and 3. The one-day Travelcard is valid for any journey starting at or after 0430 on the day printed on the ticket up to 0429 on the next day. These times are fixed, so you can't get a pass starting at 0900 that's valid for 24 hours from then.

Travelcards are not valid on Thames Clippers, which have their own fare system. This includes their own day pass, the River Roamer, which is valid from 0900 for the remainder of that day. (I presume that it includes all travel until end of service on that day, but because it's an off-peak ticket I doubt that it has a validity period of 24 hours.)

However, if you have a Travelcard, you will get a 1/3 discount from Thames Clippers on standard single tickets, River Roamers (and season tickets it seems, FWIW).

Instead of a one-day Travelcard, you could buy a prepay Oyster card which is a stored value card. If you pay for travel on the TfL services on which you could use a Travelcard, you will be charged a cash fare for each journey subject to a cap for each day's travel, the value of which depends on the travel which you actually make. This means that you don't have to work out in advance which zones you're going to travel in. If (for example) your travel is all within Zones 1 and 2, the cap that is applied is the Zones 1-2 rate; but if you also do some travel in Zone 3, then the card will automatically apply the cap at the Zones 1-3 rate. The "day" for Oyster capping is the same as for the Travelcard: 0430 to 0429.

At the present time, the daily Oyster cap for central and inner London zones is significantly lower than the cost of a one-day Travelcard. The smallest zonal coverage of a one-day Travelcard is Zones 1-4; this is now £12.30. However, the daily Oyster cap for Zones 1-2 (the usual ambit of most tourist travel) is £6.60.

If you have an Oyster, you can use the value to pay for Thames Clippers trips. You will also get a discount for doing so. However, on the assumption that you'd be using a prepay Oyster instead of a Travelcard, you need to be aware that the discount for using an prepay Oyster is lower than the discount given to Travelcard holders and it varies according to where you're travelling on Thames Clippers.

TfL price caps and Travelcard prices are here: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/adult-fares-2017.pdf
Thames Clippers prices and discounts are here: http://www.thamesclippers.com/assets...d577c6428a.pdf and here: http://www.thamesclippers.com/route-time-table/prices

If you have a contactless credit or debit card, you can use that in lieu of a prepay Oyster card. Fundamentally, the prices are the same for payment with contactless as with prepay Oyster (including the daily cap). However, it does mean that you do not have to have the hassle of paying a deposit for the Oyster, and of getting the deposit and unused value back when you have finished with the Oyster. A contactless card, if you have one, is probably more convenient for a visitor than using a prepay Oyster. However, I get the impression that US-issued credit and debit cards rarely feature contactless payment. See https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payment...ss?intcmp=8257 and https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payment...me?intcmp=8282 and https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payment...-cards#outside

A further option, which basically works in the same way as contactless, is using a mobile phone that is set up to make contactless payments. TfL accepts Android Pay, Apple Pay and Barclaycard & Barclays Contactless Mobile and bPay. See https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payment...ctless-payment
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#14
London
22,104 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
I don't expect roothy123 to post at least until they get back home - but what a great couple of days she had for sightseeing and a sailaway this weekend! We were sitting outside yesterday evening until 11 pm.
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#15
Cambs. U.K
1,528 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
It's absolutely scorching - here in Wapping we've sat down by the river at Hermitage Park (Jo Cox memorial picnic - lots going on here) and we have been absolutely baked. What a day to leave on a cruise -perfect!
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#16
Maryland
4,909 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Well, roothy123 here, reporting back. I'm on the ship and we depart at 7:30. I would describe the weather here as pretty brutal. It feels like home (Maryland) - hot and humid!! It's great for sailing, but we've been sightseeing today and yesterday and that wasn't so nice. But it's pretty cool being right on the Thames. We have to take a short ride on one of the Clippers to the ship from Greenwich Pier. Greenwich itself is a pretty fun place. We visited the Old Royal Naval College, and my husband went up the hill to the observatory. I headed through the tunnel to Island Gardens and took the DLR and Tube to Westminster. Took a Clipper back. This afternoon our cruise line provided a tour in London - mostly bus, but it covered a lot and gave a good overview of London. Yes, it was quite hot and humid, though better today than yesterday.

The only thing that was rough was the trip yesterday morning from Heathrow to Greenwich. Everyone was out driving around, in the parks enjoying the sunshine, and traffic was a total mess. I believe it was also Trooping of the Colors day, so that probably made things worse. But soon we're heading down (up?) the Thames and out to sea, so that should be a nice hour or two outside on the water.

Great place to anchor! Unfortunately, or fortunately, my husband managed to snag a reservation at one of the special restaurants, so I'm probably going to be inside for dinner, which means I won't be able to look for anything at sailaway. Oh well.

And just in case anyone else wants to know, they DO set up tents at the pier for ship check-in. Then you go to the pier for Thames Clippers and go out to the ship. Just be sure you get on the right Clipper, as the regular Clippers pull up near the ones going to the ship. There are also City Sightseeing boats there, so it's a bit chaotic.
#17
London
22,104 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
It is definitely "down" the Thames and out to sea. In theory, down is the way the water flows. But where the Thames is tidal, that's only true half the time.

I had actually forgotten that it was Trooping the Colour on Saturday. I was actually sitting at an outside table at a restaurant when the flypast started, so got a good if rather distant view of all the waves of aircraft.

Have a great cruise!
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