diamond geezer

 Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Emirates Water Line experience

Take to the water on London's only vehicle ferry and enjoy a truly unique experience in east London.

The Emirates Water Line crosses the River Thames between Woolwich and North Woolwich.

Ferries depart every 5-10 minutes and voyages are approximately four minutes each way.

Take to the water

The Emirates Water Line created a new link across the Thames when it joined the Capital's transport network in 1889. Cruising low over the river between the Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks, it has also become a destination its own right.

Passengers are treated to a captain's eye view of the Tate & Lyle refinery, Royal Victoria Gardens, the Waterfront Leisure Centre and the Royal Arsenal Riverside Residential Cluster.

With a journey time of less than 5 minutes, the ferry provides easy access between London City Airport and the Royal Artillery Barracks, and between local communities on both sides of the river. A single voyage is approximately 50% quicker than dawdling across the river on the Greenwich cable car.

The terminals are close to existing bus connections, and within walking distance of National Rail and Docklands Light Railway services, although not particularly conveniently so. The service is also accessible to cyclists, car drivers and wheelchair users, and is open seven days a week.

The Emirates Maritime Experience

London's most exciting public attraction, the Emirates Maritime Experience, is the first of its kind globally. Using full-size models, interactive deckhands and what was state-of-the-art technology in 1963, this immersive experience has something for people of all ages.

Your transpontine journey begins as soon as you step onto the pier curving out from the shoreline above the glittering waters of the Thames. Pause a while in the authentic Sixties concrete shelter, perhaps taking a seat on the plastic bench, or transcribing some of the mobile numbers scratched into the wall by escorts offering a good time.

When the ferry is ready for embarkation, staff in jaunty uniforms will beckon you towards the gangways. Please allow incoming foot passengers, elated after their crossing, to squeeze by before moving forward. The upper decks are not for you, so take the bespoke staircase into the very heart of the ship. Be sure to hold the handrail and maintain concentration at all times as you descend.

The interior of the craft has been laid out as a dimly-lit classical labyrinth. Explore the bleak gangways to locate the wooden bench of your choice at the stern, or follow the central corridor past the bus maps and the safety messages to discover a matching area at the bow. Passengers should be aware that only a tiny number of seats actually have a view out across the river, so are advised to arrive early.

Regrettably the Smoking and No Smoking saloons are closed until further notice, and their sliding doors are firmly locked. Nevertheless passengers are encouraged to imagine the nicotine fug which would have existed below decks fifty years ago (or, for an extra frisson, that they are trapped in third class steerage on the HMS Titanic). A full range of historical digital simulations is available on the Emirates Water Line app.

On-board audio tour

To add context to the breathtaking views on your voyage we've included a new on-board tour as part of the Maritime Experience. The audio complements the journey by replaying a series of fascinating safety messages about what to do in the event of mid-river disaster. It highlights a selection of our most famous London distress signals, explains the vibrant locations of the muster points, and gives a flavour of the inherent dangers in crossing the river in a heritage craft.


Travel on the Emirates Water Line is free, but those wishing to show their appreciation should throw coins and loose currency into a bucket on disembarkation. Oyster and contactless users enjoy a 26% discount. A loyalty scheme is available for foot passengers making five return journeys in one week.

A private cabin can be hired (subject to availability) for a non-stop trip that can accommodate several passengers. To take advantage of this extra special offer, simply drive your car onto the ferry and enjoy panoramic views from the upper deck, which foot passengers stowed in the hold can only dream of.

Operating hours

Monday to Friday: From 06:10-20:00 (two-boat service)
Saturday and public holidays:From 06:10-20:00 (one-boat service)
Sunday: From 11:30-19:30 (one-boat service)

Although there are no immediate plans to start operating 24 hour services, the introduction of the Night Water Line is being considered for when the current operating contract expires in 2020.

Tides and weather

The Emirates Water Line is not usually affected by tidal conditions, but we sometimes need to suspend the service when there is an extremely high tide. We suspend the service when there is dense fog in the area. We do not stop for high winds or the risk of lightning, unlike certain other less reliable river crossings in the vicinity.

Emirates Water Line upgrade

The Emirates Water Line will be closing temporarily for two months at the end of 2018 to allow a new high-tech mooring system to be installed on each pier. Two new boats will then be brought into service, which will have more space for passengers and vehicles, a separate space for cyclists and be more fuel efficient, but have none of the gloomy down-at-heel character of the current boats, so best get down here before October.

Enjoy a stunning night voyage experience on the Emirates Water Line

Whether you're having a night out with friends or indulging in a romantic evening sunset, the Emirates Water Line is a must do experience. Discover a unique perspective of London's captivating riverscape, including reflections of burnt-out North Woolwich Pier and the awe-inspiring streetlights of Thamesmead. There is no additional charge for night voyages - so what better way to see the city come alive after dark from the lowest observation point on the River Thames?

Why not enjoy a round trip with extra time for sightseeing?

• Attractions close to Emirates Woolwich North Terminal include a closed museum, the Princess nailbar and the Royal Standard gentlemen's entertainment venue. Maybe grab an omelette in Roz's cafe, nip into Ladbrokes for a four-way accumulator or borrow a book from North Woolwich library.
• Attractions close to Emirates Woolwich South Terminal include the Waterfront leisure pool, a multi-suite Travelodge and the less prosperous end of Woolwich's main shopping street. Maybe transform yourself at Cheri's Hair Salon, book an MOT at Furlongs or take your pick from a dozen fried chicken outlets.

Find more things to do in the local area on the Emirates Water Line website.

See also: The Emirates Air Line
See also: The Emirates Earth Line

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