FAQs (and other helpful bits)
**Update Spring 2018. These are all still relevant but please not that charter prices change and so always go to our Prices page to see the latest prices**
Below we have answered a few questions which we get asked a lot, but if you do have more please get in contact. We would love to hear from you!
Q. What services do you offer?
We provide the vessels, catering (if you wish for it), staff, speaker or DJ equipment, photographer if you wish for one, entertainment, security and linen. It all depends what you are looking for in an event. Talk to our Events team who will be able to create a quotation for you.
Q. How do I contact the team?
T: 020 7623 1805
Q. How much does each Vessel cost to rent?
The vessel costs different amounts to rent depending on days and times, the weekends and evenings are generally higher priced. Please see below a chart with our rates.
Q. How do I book an event?
First you’ll need a quotation from us, then check availability for the date or dates you want. We can provisionally hold a date for you too so that it is safe; you then in effect have ‘first-refusal’ whilst you check with colleagues if you need to prior to confirming. Then, by paying the deposit appropriate for the boat you are chartering, and completing and returning a simple contract, you’re booked! Use any of the following options to start the process:
T: 020 7623 1805
Q. What is your cancellation Policy?
If a voyage, party or function is cancelled by a client for any cause within 6 weeks of the voyage, party or function then 50% of the boat hire charge and all pier tolls where applicable are payable by the client. If the voyage, party or function is cancelled within 4 weeks of the voyage, party or function 100% of the boat hire charges, all pier tolls, entertainment, bar and catering costs where applicable are payable by the client. In the event of litigation Swan Pier Company Ltd will recover any costs from the client. Any deposits made cannot be credited against monies owed to us as a result of cancellation (all deposits are non refundable). Swan Pier Company Ltd reserves the right to cancel a function if it is found that information given by the client on the booking form is in any way false or knowingly incorrect, and in this situation no refunds will be given. Swan Pier Company Ltd cannot be held responsible or liable when a party or function must be cancelled due to circumstances beyond the control of Swan Pier Company Ltd, such as but not limited to Port of London Authority river closure.
Q. Is there a minimum bar spend?
On the Dutch Master we sometimes apply a minimum bar spend. Please ask on enquiry.
Q. What are your office times?
The office is open 9.00am – 5.30pm but NOT AT WEEKENDS. Any issue relating to your cruise must be dealt with during these times. Once you have an event booking with us you will receive an Event Schedule with all the details of your event and timings and this will also have a primary Thames Leisure contact, either an Event Manager or a crew member and their mobile number. CREW OR STAFF ON THE DAY/NIGHT CONCERNED WILL NOT BE ABLE TO CHANGE ANY DETAILS OF YOUR CRUISE INCLUDING CRUISING TIMES.
Q. How quickly can you give me a quote for my event?
Within about 90 seconds usually! Our new Instant Quote Calculator works on our website and is designed to give you a very accurate quote for 99% of all our possible Thames events instantly. As quick as you can select the few options we require from you to define a price, it can produce the price whilst giving you all the info you need to make your decision. If you like what you can see, with the push of a button you can request us to check the price and a date to formalise things. If you want something more complicated or unusual our sales team can respond to you very quickly – usually the same working day or at latest, the next.
Q. Who drives the boat?
We have specialised captains who drive each vessel.
Q. When is my event confirmed?
We are able to go ahead and start booking your pier and confirming the actual event day the minute we receive your deposit. Before this happens, you will have received your quotation and booking form.
Q. I don’t know what boat will work best for my Thames cruise – help!
Our sales team can advise immediately on this or you can use our Instant Quote Calculator online which will present your best options depending primarily on your numbers of guests. Generally, it is size and catering requirements that determine which boat is best.
Q. Do you operate on bank Holidays?
Yes, we do, we do however operate weekend prices on bank holidays.
Q. What locations do you visit?
*On occassion at certain states of tide ‘the Dutch’ can go west of London Bridge but this is an exception rather than the rule. We will check this for you on booking.
Q. What forms of entertainment can you provide?
Q. What is the breakdown for Clay Pigeon Shooting?
Each individual will get a practice shot and 2 to 3 competition shots, this does include full coaching and guidance and happens over 2 hours. We have a variety of guns and there is a selection of 12/20 bores.
Q. What options do we have for Pier Embarking and Disembarking?
TOWER MILLENNIUM PIER – SB Will & Dutch Master
BLACKFRIARS – Dutch Master (dependent on tide)
GREENWICH PIER– Dutch Master and SB Will
NORTH GREENWICH PIER – Dutch Master and SB Will
Q. Do you do Drinks Packages?
Yes, please enquire for prices. We also do drinks tokens and a cash bar on board our vessels.
Q. Are Animals and Children allowed onboard?
Children are allowed on board with Adults unfortunately, we cannot accept school proms or birthdays under 18 years old on any of our vessels. Animals are not.
Q. Are your boats suitable for all ages?
Our events are tailored individually to your specific requirements, including the choice of vessel. All our river cruisers are fully child-friendly and we will advise on ships such as the historic Sailing Barge Will which certainly welcomes children but requires a bit more supervision and preparation. Unfortunately, we cannot accept school proms or birthdays under 18 years old on any of our vessels.
Security will always be present on our Dutch Master vessel, guests are advised to carry ID in the event of being checked upon arrival. Should there be any guests under the age of 17, absolutely no alcohol will be served.
Q. Do you throw Birthday Parties?
Yes, we do, however if it’s an 18th or 21st party these often have to take place Sunday to Wednesday and only run until 00:00. All other birthday party enquirers should contact the events office and we will be able to help.
Q. Are YOUR BOATs suitable for disabled persons?
Our vessels do not all have disabled facilities, however, we do everything we can to follow current legislation and endeavour to maximise access wherever possible. Certainly we do welcome many disabled guests every year and our crew are always happy to help with access. Please talk to us to discuss in detail.
Q. Are there good kitchen facilities?
The William B and Sailing Barge Will both have fully functioning galleys (boat-speak for kitchens); Tideway and Dutch Master do not but our excellent caterer has devised delicious menus which can be served from them. For cold food, the finger buffet or for tasty hot-food, the Street Food menus.
Please note that we can only offer a finger buffet catering. aboard the Tideway vessel.
Q. What are your Menu Choices?
Tideway = Cold Food Only
Dutch Master = No seating ->> Finger buffets, street food, BBQ’s only
Teas and Coffees
Breakfast Pastries/Bacon Roll
Q. When do I have to confirm final numbers?
2 weeks before the event date.
Q. Can I view the boat before the actual event?
Yes, we do have viewing slots from 10am – 4pm Tuesday to Friday, all you need to do is contact the Events office and they will book you in. Occasionally we can do weekend viewings but this is rarer. Speak to us if this is necessary and we will see what can be done.
Q. Where is the meeting place for viewing the Fleet?
Q. Are we allowed our own drinks and catering?
This is possible , though there is a corkage charge and also catering facility fees applicable. Corkage charges are:
Wine £10.00 per bottle
Sparkling Wine £12.50 per bottle
Champagne £15.00 per bottle
Beer and spirits – Not permitted
Please note that you are not allowed to bring your own drinks for weekend events. (Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday)
if you are wanting to bring your own food on board it will cost different amounts depending on which vessel you have hired.
SB WILL – £150
Q. Can I charter a vessel on the Thames at any time of year?
Absolutely yes! Autumn clay-shoots, Christmas parties, New Year cruises, Summer BBQ cruises and more – Thames Leisure sail all year round. All our Thames river cruisers have heating on board and for static events, we can also arrange deck heaters and awnings.
Q. What should I wear?
As the occasion demands – dress can be as formal or as relaxed, as you choose. However, flat-soled shoes are always a good idea aboard ships. We cannot allow stiletto heels on Thames Sailing Barges and as they may damage the deck. Wrap up warm in winter and bring extra layers even in summer as it can get sometimes cold on deck.
Q. Will I be seasick on my Thames cruise?
It’s very unlikely! Over our history in the business, you would be the first!
Q. Do I have to cruise on the Thames or can we be stationary?
You can be stationary (or static as we like to call it) though there are some limitations. For many there are some good reasons to remain still rather than cruise, having an ‘open boat’ event for example that your guests can come to at any time. Our static events will always take place in a suitable dock or marina on the Thames. The river itself is very fast flowing and very busy, so for safety and general ease of use for everyone we would recommend somewhere like St. Katharine Docks next to Tower Bridge, or the extensive and well-connected docks available in and around Canary Wharf. We’d be happy to advise.
Q. I want to do something special on my Thames cruise. Any ideas?
Lots! It depends on your group profile a little but all sorts of entertainment are possible from casinos to entertainers to full-on shows. Clay pigeon shooting from William B or SB Will are perennial favourites, constantly amazing our guests that it is even possible and delivering highly memorable experiences. Something else, available to only a few charter boats on the Thames (two of which belong to us) is the option for Tower Bridge to open up for you as you cruise through it. Amazing and unforgettable.