Fancy a guided London Thames cruise with 400-year-old characters telling you about the city?
City Cruises is currently running a special cruise complete with Shakespearean actors telling you about the local landmarks and serenading you with sonnets and ‘greatest hits’ from Shakespeare’s plays,
It marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death and is running throughout April, although it might continue through the year if it’s popular, I’m told.
The actors entertain passengers with Shakespearean dialogue and even a fruity list of the Bard’s favourite insults taken from a variety of plays including A Winter’s Tale and Much Ado About Nothing. This is a particularly fun part of the cruise with insults like ‘your bum is the best part of you’ and ‘your breath smells like toasted cheese’ to make you chuckle.
They take requests too so if you really want to hear ‘To be or not to be’ or ‘The quality of mercy is not strained’ or ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day’ you will get it!
The sightseeing cruises, which leave from Bankside next to the Globe, can even include a reenactment of the story of Hamlet in just five minutes, with audience participation encouraged.
Our experience of shakespeare’s thames cruise
The day I went with a friend was sunny and almost (not quite) warm so that really helped the experience. You know what April can be like!
The fact that it was sunny and dry meant that we could sit at the top where the action was happening. The two actors (one male one female) were dressed in Elizabethan garb and projected well so that we could all hear the Bard’s lines.
The male actor also guided us around the sights along the embankments (he used to do guided tours on the Thames anyway) and then, in between, he and the actress exchanged fabulous Shakespearean insults and all those phrases we use every day that we didn’t know were from Will himself such as “Knock knock! Who’s there?’ (Macbeth), ‘ “With bated breath” (The Merchant of Venice) and ‘A wild goose chase’ (Romeo and Juliet). You can find more fab phrases that we didn’t know were Shakespearean here.
If the weather is inclement you can sit below deck which has windows all around so you can still see the sights. In fact, whatever the weather you can also visit the bar down below which has drinks, snacks, tea and coffee etc. We had a cup of tea each which was a nice extra as we enjoyed the trip.
It was a really fun experience – a good hour for adults and children (particularly older children) alike. Take part and request particular Shakespeare quotations and scenes and you won’t be disappointed. For the price, it’s worth going.
Want to go?
The 50 minute Shakespeare cruise includes five daily departures from Bankside Pier, located next to Shakespeare’s Globe, and will run at 11.15am, 12.15pm, 13.15pm, 14.55pm and 15.55pm.
You can either get a ticket at the office on Bankside Pier (in between Southwark and London Bridge tubes, next to Shakespeare’s Globe theatre) or go to the City Cruises website here.
Adults – £13
Children – £6.50