waverley paddle steamer clacton pier

Sailing On The Waverley Paddle Steamer To London

For many years my mum has wanted to sail on the Waverley Paddle Steamer. This year we finally got the chance to book a cruise that would take us from Clacton Pier down the River Thames and through Tower Bridge. We actually booked this trip as a mother-and-daughter day out before COVID. As this trip never happened and the children are now older this trip turned into a trip for all the family.

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Sailing On The Waverley Paddle Steamer To London

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Our Waverley London and Thames Estuary Sailing

We booked a London and Thames Estuary sailing on the Waverley. The Waverley departed from Ipswich on the day of our tour but we boarded the paddle steamer at Clacton Pier. The Waverley then sailed along the Thames Estuary and into the River Thames. Sailing through an open Tower Bridge, stopping at London Tower Pier. A coach transfer was then provided to take us back to Clacton.

london thames estuary waverley sailing schedule

Sailing Past The Sights Of London

What I was most excited about on this sailing was seeing the sights of London from a different perspective. The Waverley would sail past lots of famous London landmarks. The highlight would be sailing through Tower Bridge which would have to open to let the Waverley through.

waverley paddle steamer clacton pier

The first part of our cruise was in the open sea off the Essex coastline. We sailed past wind farms and different coastal towns. It was late afternoon when we sailed under the Dartford Bridge. For me, this started our journey past the famous landmarks.

dartford bridge waverley paddle steamer

I was excited to pass the Thames Barrier. I visited the barrier on a school trip when I was younger. It was fascinating and an amazing experience to pass by them so closely.

thames barrier waverley paddle steamer

The sun was setting as we sailed down the Thames. It was lovely seeing the London skyline lit up as we sailed past. We watched people climbing over the 02 which is something I would love to do.

o2 greenwich peninsula

Sailing through Tower Bridge was an amazing experience. Passers-by cheered as The Waverley sailed through the bridge. It was a great end to our very special cruise.

tower bridge

You can watch the highlights of our cruise in the below video.

What Facilities Will You Find On The Waverley Paddle Steamer?

Our Waverley journey took about six hours and there are facilities on-board The Wavery to make the journey as comfortable as possible. There are male and female toilets on either side of the paddle steamer. I was pleasantly surprised at how many toilets there were available to use. We didn’t need to queue to use the toilet at all.

bow waverley paddle steamer

Are There Any Food Options on Board?

We took a packed lunch on board to make sure the children had things they would eat but there a a few food options on board. The Waverley has a restaurant serving hot and cold food, a tea room and a lounge serving alcoholic beverages. We did treat ourselves to some chips and hot chocolate during our cruise.

waverley paper cups waverley paddle steamer

Are There Enough Places To Sit?

As we got on The Waverley at its second stop the people on board had already made themselves comfortable. All the benches on deck were full as well as the seats in the tea room, lounge and observation lounge. Everyone had really claimed their spot for the cruise. We found a spot to sit near the engine room. There was a large porthole near our seats so we could still get a good view of the things we passed.

I think if you are on a long sailing and want to claim your spot you need to get on The Waverley at its first stop. People had set up camp for the day. I could imagine if you do this it would be wise to take lots of layers with you. Staying in one spot for six hours in open water must make you cold. As the sailing went on we did manage to get some seats in the lounge. The seats became available as people moved up the decks for better views of London.

Make Sure You Visit The Engine

We spent a lot of time walking around The Waverley. Mostly because Ethan likes to be on the move but we also liked to take in the different views. You can also walk past and view the engine. This really is a must. The engine is amazing to watch and to see how it makes the paddles move. It is also a nice spot to visit if you need to warm up.


We love sharing our days out on our blog. Make sure you visit our Days Out and Experiences post to read all about them.

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