“ Public boat trips and private charters on the river Thames. „
This may well seem to be a strange time to be writing about a river cruise company but I did first suggest this company to review back in August (which was when we took our boat trip) but it has taken this long for my suggestion to be approved. However, as looking on French Brothers' website I notice that they do have a Christmas Gifts category; perhaps the timing is not so bad after all.
French Brothers run boat trips along the River Thames from Windsor. You can either buy tickets for a public trip or they will let you take out a private charter particularly for special events such as the Windsor Races or Henley Regatta. I can't speak much about this aspect though as, with my family and some friends, I tool a public boat trip which we all very much enjoyed.
You do not have to book in advance and you can just go down to the riverside at Windsor and buy your tickets from a small boathouse. There are a number of different trips that you can opt for. These include 40 or two hour trips from Windsor. These go as far as they go in half of that time and then turn around so you end up back where you started. You can also do return trips from Runnymede or Maidenhead to Windsor, and you can even catch a return trip to Hampton Court from Runnymede. So, as you can see, there are lots of different options. These also run very frequently in the summer so you don't have to wait too long if you miss one!
We only took the forty minute round trip as we just wanted to give our daughters a taste of a river trip and suspected that they might get a little bit bored if we opted for the two hour trip. These trips run daily from mid February through to the end of October and then there is a limited weekend service into December. It is all dependent on river conditions though, but I suspect that not many people would want to go out in very bad weather especially as, if you sit in the upper seating area, it is quite exposed with only polythene flaps to protect from the elements. You can check on the French brothers websites for all the times and dates of the various trips on offer.
We really enjoyed our forty minute trip that went from Windsor to Boveney Lock and then back again. There were a number of sights to look at along the way including Eton College and Windsor Race Course. On the way back to Windsor you get excellent views of Windsor Castle and the Royal Windsor Wheel. The skipper also provided us with a commentary along the way which made sure that we did not miss anything. This was also quite witty and entertaining with a few obscure facts thrown in for good measure.
Safety is stressed on board the boat and parents are requested not to allow their children to wander about on their own. There are toilets on board and also a small cafe bar serving hot drinks and snacks. You can either go downstairs to order these or one of the crew does come round and take orders. You can also buy duck food in order to feed the numerous birds that accompany the trip. I felt that the cost of our forty minute trip was incredibly reasonable as we paid £13 for a family ticket (two adults and two children). This was a saving of £2.60 on the individual prices. It would have cost £21 for us all to take the two hour trip.
French Brothers operate about ten boats along this stretch of the Thames, and alongside the regular cruises they offer a number of specials including a Sunday lunch cruise, a santa special Christmas lunch cruise, and an evening jazz cruise to name just a few of the varied options. They all sound like a lot of fun and would make some ideal gift experiences. Also it is worth noting that you can exchange Tesco Clubcard points for tickets.
Overall, if you are looking for something a bit different to do in the Windsor areas and there are good weather conditions, it could well be worth talking a French Brothers' cruise along the Thames.