Europe & Baltic Cruises
(River Thames Cruise)
Discover London before you embark on a stress-free and relaxed pace of river barging on this scenic cruise through England's River Thames. The Middle Thames is a slow meandering journey past Royal Palaces, quaint riverside towns and small local villages. Experience a mixture of old world charm and the natural beauty of Surrey, Berkshire and Oxfordshire. From Henry VIII’s Hampton Court past Windsor Castle to Henley with frequent stops, which allow plenty of time to wander and explore, whilst you follow an old Viking trading route deep into rural countryside. Gentle exploration is the key term, with good cycling and walking opportunities along the way.
2013 & 2014: Cruise departs every Sunday.
Sold by individual cabins, or private charter. Cruise may operate in reverse order.
Meet your driver at Heathrow airport, and take a private transfer to your hotel.
Lancaster (4*) 18-story hotel opposite the 600 acres of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, and adjacent to an Underground stop. West End theaters and Knightsbridge shopping are less than 2 km away. The sizable Lancaster London offers 2 restaurants with splendid park views. Nipa serving authentic Thai cuisine and the super-chic contemporary restaurant Island. Guestrooms are light and airy with extensive views over Hyde Park and the London skyline beyond. Amenities include high-speed Internet access, satellite TV, minibar, and air conditioning.
Experience the city in all its beauty on a comprehensive half day (4hr) private city tour with a Professional Guide, vehicle and driver and be shown all the major sights this world metropolis has to offer. A visit of the colourful "West End" with its well-known shopping streets and elegant parks is up first. Then travel on through both the City of Westminster and the City of London, the oldest part of the capital and home to the financial district. During the course of the tour, you will see all the highlights of the city: Royal Albert Hall, Marble Arch, Hyde Park, Harrods in Knightsbridge, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, and Trafalgar Square with Nelson's Column. The tour ends either in the city centre or back at your accommodation.
Spend a full day tour on a shared tour visiting Windsor, with a chance to see Windsor Castle, Stonehenge to see the mysterious stone circle and Oxford for a fascinating walking tour of this University City as you enjoy a shared tour today. Enjoy an orientation tour of Windsor - home to the royal family for 900 years and an official residence of Her majesty the Queen. The castle is also the oldest inhabited castle in the world. The great and ancient stone circle of Stonehenge is one of the wonders of the world, cloaked forever in intense debate over its purpose. It is the focal point in a landscape filled with prehistoric ceremonial structures, now a World Heritage Site. Oxford is the city of Dreaming Spires and home to the world's most famous university. Its colleges date back to the 13th century, an inspiration to generations of scholars including President Bill Clinton, and the authors J R R Tolkien, Lewis Carroll and C S Lewis. Your guide will take you on a walking tour to see Christ Church college, the Bodleian Library and the Sheldonian Theatre before being returned to London.
Meet the Captain or a crewmember at the hotel for afternoon English Cream Tea, before being transferred to the Magna Carta.
Upon embarking the Magna Carta, you'll be provided with a Champagne Welcome aboard the barge, moored outside Hampton Court, former Tudor Palace of Henry VII, where you'll remain overnight.
The 8-passenger Magna Carta is one of the finest, most luxurious vessels cruising the British Isles. The ambience created by combining a traditional barge hull (1936) and fine mahogany, teak and oak woods is outstanding. The upper deck saloon and dining areas sport picture windows and stylish furnishings and the sun deck has comfortable seating and a spa pool. Magna Carta has the most sophisticated modern amenities, including air conditioning, WI FI internet access and underfloor heating in each of the four full width suites. Each suite has exceptionally spacious contemporary en-suite facilities and colour TVs and DVD players. There are eight bikes on board to take at your pleasure for rides along the tow paths. The experienced Captain knows the Thames well and will pilot the barge and be your tour guide. Your Master Chef will produce a range of mouth watering dishes whilst you enjoy the sights of royal Barkshire, historic Buckinghamshire and beautiful Oxfordshire from your floating country inn. Two house keepers complete the crew of four.
This morning you'll have ample time to really explore Hampton Court Palace, the most fabulous Tudor home of Henry VIII! Though used as a Royal home until Victorian times. You'll walk through Henry’s great hall and haunted gallery and see his chapel, still used for worship today and with the finest Tudor ceiling in existence. There is much more to see including the stunning privy gardens, the world’s oldest growing grape vine and the famous maze! After lunch you enjoy your first cruise, up through Molesey Lock and following the meandering path of the river through Sunbury, Chertsey, and Shepperton to your overnight mooring on Bell Weir Lock at Runnymede.
After breakfast you have the option to use the spa facilities of the newly refurbished Runnymede on Thames hotel including pool, sauna and steam room. Beauty therapies, massages and other treatments are available but are best booked in advance. This morning you'll cruise to Windsor before enjoying lunch on board. Your river journey takes you through Runnymede where King John faced the barons in 1215 and was forced to put his seal on the Magna Carta, the document which was the very first Bill of Rights and from which your vessel takes its name. From the boat you'll see the Magna Carta memorial and Magna Carta Island where the sealing took place. Your afternoon excursion is to Windsor Castle. Built by William the Conqueror in 1066 and lived in for over 900 years by the Royal Family. This is the largest inhabited castle in the world. Explore the State Apartments, see Queen Mary's Dolls House and St George's Chapel and enjoy the far-reaching views from its elevated fortress position.
Windsor to Cliveden leaving Royal Windsor behind, you cruise up to Boveney Lock and take a walk to Dorney Court. This very special home has been owned by the Palmer family for more than 450 years passing from father to son through 13 generations. King Henry VIII has stayed here and you'll be treated to a private tour of the house. Your cruise continues past the fabulous waterside homes of Bray and Maidenhead, Boulters Lock (made famous in Victorian times) and into the spectacular Clivedon reach where you have special permission to moor at the house itself. Cliveden was once owned by the Astor family, though the original house dates back to 1666. The gardens are simply amazing and include a Parterre, Chinese water garden and topiary. You'll discuss the political intrigue and scandal for which Cliveden is famous!!. A late afternoon cruise takes you to a stunning mooring at Cookham Lock. Artist Sir Stanley Spencer, one of England’s greatest and most eccentric painters, once described Cookham as ‘Heaven on Earth’. Much of his work was painted in and around Cookham.
After breakfast you'll visit Stanley Spencer’s gallery and take a walk around the village before cruising through Bourne End and Marlow to Hurley. You'll tour Peter Freebody’s boatyard and watch in wonder at the traditional craftsman at work, building and restoring wooden boats as they have done for generations. There will be time to explore the ancient 11th century village including Ye Olde Belle, reputed to be the oldest inn in the country, before returning to the barge.
A morning cruise to Henley-on-Thames through fabulous countryside to your final mooring situated along the famous Henley Regatta Rowing Course. There will be an earlier lunch followed by a 40 minute drive to Oxford. A fascinating tour of Christ Church, Oxford’s grandest college, founded twice, once by Cardinal Wolsey and then by King Henry VIII. The magnificent surroundings were where Lewis Carrol wrote Alice in Wonderland. For your final night, you'll enjoy the Captains’ Farewell Dinner on board.
Following breakfast, disembark the barge for your transfer to the designated drop off point.
Meet your driver at your hotel and be taken to Heathrow Airport by a private transfer.
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