City Cruises plc is the leading operator of tourism and leisure passenger services on the River Thames, carrying in excess of four million passengers annually on our route through the heart of London between Westminster and Tower of London…then through Tower Bridge and down river to Greenwich – a journey through 2,000 years of liquid history.
Based at Cherry Garden Pier, a historic location in south-east London that was once a part of London's huge commercial docks dating back to the 1880’s and the setting for many of Whistler’s paintings, we operate a fleet of 17 passenger boats, along with a small fleet of support vessels and barges.
Our story begins two decades ago...
Although City Cruises Plc did not actually come into being until 1996, the company can trace its roots back nearly 40 years earlier when Gary and Rita Beckwith OBE, Chairman and CEO respectively, acquired a fuel barge with which to supply the various boat operators on the River Thames in London. It was, however, a further nine years before they entered the passenger-carrying business when they acquired their first sightseeing vessel, The King, in 1985.
City Cruises has always been at the forefront of change in the industry, acquiring smaller operators in a traditionally fragmented industry and consolidating ownership under the City Cruises umbrella. Our growth has been driven through innovation, investment and our commitment to customer service.
We developed the first brand on the River Thames, built the first new purpose-built sightseeing boat for 25 years in 1996 - named by Her Majesty the Queen - and developed the first GPS-driven multilingual commentary system.
We now operate a modern fleet of large, comfortable boats with open top decks together with our unique heritage fleet. Our latest addition to the fleet, Millennium Diamond, was built in 2012 and has the largest passenger-carrying capacity on the river at 600 passengers.
In 2002 the company acquired The Yard Arm Club Ltd. and, along with it, the Restaurant Ship Hispaniola to add a static vessel to the fleet and a top-class central London restaurant and events venue to the product portfolio.
Formerly the steamship, Maid of Ashton, she sailed the Clyde and came to rest on the Victoria Embankment by Hungerford Bridge in the 1970’s with spectacular views from the Houses of Parliament to St Paul’s Cathedral. The Hispaniola is now renowned for Al Fresco dining on her large, open decks with an all-day bar and restaurant on the Upper Deck.
In April 2014, City Cruises expanded outside London and now operate in Poole, Dorset. Our two vessels, Solent Scene and Island Scene, sail from Poole Quay, offering cruises across the sea to Swanage, along the Jurassic Coast - a magnificent World Heritage Site with spectacular views - and around Europe’s largest natural harbour which includes Brownsea Island.
Gary and Rita are both very active in the London tourism scene. Gary is a Board member of the European Tour Operators Association and Patron of Whoosh, the charity of the Stephen Hawking School. Rita was Chairman of the Docklands Business Club for eight years and has just retired from the Chairmanship of UKinbound after five years. She now sits on the Board of Visit Greenwich. Rita Beckwith received the OBE from Her Majesty the Queen in 2012 for her services to tourism and the regeneration of London Docklands.