New Year’s Eve River Cruise – Yes Please!

The best New Year ever?  Yes I think it was.

Seeing the fireworks over Tower Bridge seems like a pretty good way to see in The New Year - don't you agree.
Seeing the fireworks over Tower Bridge seems like a pretty good way to see in The New Year – don’t you agree.

It was a momentous birthday for the man of the house and as a lovely surprise his children decided to pack us both off to London for a couple of days. To make the occasion even more special we also traveled with four of our best friends.

The trip was booked with Omega  Holidays and they were really good at making sure that all the little details were just right.

Read below to find out details of our wonderful New Year!

London Aerial

Tuesday December 30th 2014

We set off by coach for fun and festivities and the journey was pleasant and hassle free . Our driver even went to the trouble of taking our party to the London Eye  so we would have time to have a go.

Excited to see the views!
Excited to see the views!

The London Eye was jam packed but our initial worry was easily abated as the queue moved really quickly  (no need to pay for the express lane). The turn of the wheel was 30 minutes  and it was brilliant; marveled at by us all.  It was 4.30pm, still a bright sunny day but time for the lights to come on all over London and it look really magical.

Taking a stroll passed Buckingham Palace
Taking a stroll passed Buckingham Palace

We walked back to our pick up point. Although we weren’t sure how long it would take we needn’t have worried as it was quite a direct route taking us past Buckingham Palace and along Bird Cage Walk- a pleasant walk which would have been less hurried had we known the distance in advance.

After being collected by our driver we were whisked away towards Heathrow and our hotel. This is where the only glitch in the whole proceedings occurred. The driver knew where the first hotel was but was at a loss to find a way in. As a consequence we had an unscheduled tour of Heathrow Airport passing our hotel in the process!

At this point the driver knew London well but finding the entrance to The Holiday Inn was difficult but he finally cracked it – even the lack of signage  did not get the better of him and at last we actually managed to drop people off.

The food was excellent and the staff were excellent and we enjoyed all the facilities over the couple of days we used it.

Wednesday 31st December 2014

Today was birthday day!
Today was birthday day!

and it started with a brilliant breakfast and present giving. Fully nourished we boarded the coach bound for Windsor. We spent our time there walking and having a browse; it would have been good to go into Windsor Castle but I don’t believe that there would be time to do it justice as we had to leave quite early due to what would follow that evening. It may have been better to have set out sooner in the day to have had sufficient time for the castle experience. Maybe it’s one of those things better done without any time constraints.

Back to the plot… when we returned to the hotel we had plenty of time to bathe, put on the glad rags and slap on a face before departing for Greenwich to commence the nights proceedings. Our carriage (OK, coach) dropped us outside Jamie Oliver’s restaurant.

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As we were a bit early we did have to wait but we were inside and it was warm so that was no bother. We had a central table and the staff were friendly and very accommodating of my husband’s celiac dietary requirements. One of our party was sitting underneath the air conditioning and as this could not be turned off he was provided with a cashmere scarf which he could keep. This aside the food was excellent considering they were feeding 100 people at once. The drinks that were included in the meal were just right.

We left Jamie’s Italian feeling well sated and ready for anything.

iStock_000011822829medAfter a short walk we boarded our boat and set off on the river to see in the New Year. It was about 9.15 pm and although midnight seemed a long way off the time flew by. Sailing the Thames and seeing all those iconic sights gliding past was mesmerizing and so thoroughly enjoyable. Sailing under Tower Bridge was amazing. It was all lit up and wouldn’t have looked out of place in a fairy story. The Shard had lasers shooting into the sky from he top of it and The London Eye was a different color every time you looked in its direction.  People lined the bridges and the banks and cheered and waved as we passed and all this made for the best ever party atmosphere. We stayed outside on the back of the boat which was sheltered and not at all cold. It was good to have the convenience of the inside of the boat, a toilet and a bar if needed. Some passengers who have been on the bank in previous years said this was so much better.

After sailing up and down and soaking up the sights and sounds of London on such a party night we parked up at the front of all the boats with The Eye to our right and the tower of Big Ben in front of us. The final 60 second countdown was displayed for all to see on a building by The Eye. When it got to 10 seconds all around joined in with great enthusiasm and on the stroke on midnight Big Ben chimed in 2015 and the fireworks started.

Colorful Fireworks for the Grand Finale over Lake
Colorful Fireworks for the Grand Finale over Lake

I was glad I wasn’t paying for the fireworks! They were magnificent, fantastic and any other superlatives you can think of and they seemed to go on forever!!

When they finished there was still partying going on all around us and as we toasted in The New Year we set sail for home. We left our boat and walked to our coach to begin the long journey back to our hotel. We had been warned in advance that it would take some time to exit the metropolis and it did, but it was fascinating just observing the chaos – easy when you’re not driving. We managed to be tucked up in our beds about 3 am.

Fancy the New Year's Day Parade
Fancy the New Year’s Day Parade

We didn’t really lie in the next morning but were enjoying a leisurely breakfast, which again could not be faulted, just after 9 am. As we left the dining room i was glad we had been early as there was a very long queue for the dining room.

Sadly, we packed and made our way to the coach for our homeward journey. Just as the journey to London had been trouble free so was this one. It was the perfect break. This was undoubtedly the best new year we had ever had.

It could only be equaled by doing it again and god willing we will do just that very soon.

Chris and Geoff Carter.