Carol Gower is the Chairman of the Community and Social Committee for the Cranbrook Business Association. They represent a wonderful example of successful group trip organisation. In the beginning, a single poster was displayed outside a shop in the town, with application forms on the counter inside, to see if running a coach to Greenwich for a visit would be justified. When the day came, three full coaches took 153 people on the trip! Since then, the organisation has gone from strength to strength and currently has a database of 360 names for their trips, despite never having advertised. They arrange a dozen or more days out a year and two short breaks, ranging from London Eye and theatre trips to seaside and garden visits.

“I was privileged to be among a small number of Group Travel Organisers invited to join a Bateaux London Lunch Cruise on the Thames on February 7th 2013.

“The trip began in bright sunshine and the well-known landmarks on either side of the river looked truly resplendent through the gleaming all-glass sides of the restaurant deck of the vessel ‘Symphony’.

“After a very warm welcome as we boarded, during which members of the Group Sales team introduced themselves to us, we were served a delicious lunch of salmon roulade, chicken en croute with celeriac mash and thyme jus, and pannacotta with macaroon and raspberry coulis, accompanied by red or white wine and mineral water.

“From the very convenient embarkation point of Bateaux London’s Embankment Pier, we first travelled in a westerly direction, where within a couple of minutes we were alongside the Houses of Parliament – the best way to appreciate the architecture of the building is from the river – and reached the Lambeth area before the vessel was smoothly turned to head back – passing the London Eye and on through the revitalised old wharf area, past Shakespeare’s Globe, the Tate Modern, alongside HMS Belfast, under majestic Tower Bridge and on to the Canary Wharf area.

GTOs enjoying a luxury lunch onboard the ‘Symphony’ while floating past some of London’s most iconic and beautiful landmarks.

“After we left the Embankment boarding point (about half an hour after boarding, which gave us time to settle in comfortably and get to know one another), the cruise was an hour and a half in length. It was an ideal amount of time for the attentive serving of the three courses of the meal followed by coffee, coupled with time to chat and enjoy the changing vista through the glass as we travelled.

“As you can imagine, as happens in a small group of GTOs, we were also sharing experiences of previous visits to the many attractions passed along the way, and sharing ideas for future occasions. As we discussed our future plans, everyone on my table was adding ‘Symphony’ to their group ‘to-do’ list for the future. In no way is this ‘another boat trip on the Thames’. It is a special dining experience; a first class meal served aboard a very individual floating restaurant. I also get the impression that the groups department would be very attentive to the requirements of the group leaders approaching them, and discounts are offered subject to numbers. I, for one, look forward to experiencing an Afternoon Tea Cruise in the not-too-distant future.”

OTHER COMMENTS ON THE 7th FEBRUARY LUNCH CRUISE

Dessert and coffees finish the meal

“I can thoroughly recommend the Bateaux London lunch cruise – a real London Experience! Friendly welcoming staff, good food beautifully presented and an informative commentary. The boat had full glass sides which enable you to have a fantastic view of the London landmarks as you enjoy the leisurely lunch. I look forward to bringing my group in the future.” Eileen Booker from Booker Trip – bookertrip@live.co.uk

“Many thanks for a very enjoyable lunch on the Bateaux today. The lunch was really good with excellent service from the staff, all accompanied by wonderful views of London. We will be putting the cruise forward to our group.” Richard Moore