LONDON, July 14 (Xinhua) -- With 524 seats and 36-meter long, the largest sightseeing vessel Thomas Doggett Friday officially joined the Thames River Services fleet and provides a major boost to London tourism.
Operating from Westminster Pier to Thames Flood Barrier, the boat, which has cost 2.5 million pounds (3.27 million U.S. dollars), is purpose built for sightseeing with open and covered decks and will provide four extra services a day to cope with the burgeoning demand for trips along the river.
It has been five years in planning and was completed in Holland after the hull was built in Wales. The boat has a spacious lower saloon and large upper deck. The heated saloon features comfortable seats and large panoramic windows offering the best views of London. The upper deck has bench seating and 360 degree views perfect for taking photos of the famous sights.
Thomas Doggett is fitted with a multilingual wi-fi commentary system allowing passengers to use their smartphone to listen through their headphones in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Mandarin, as they sail past the numerous historic landmarks.
The Lord Mayor of London Andrew Parmley named the vessel in a special launch ceremony Friday at Crown Pier, Blackfriars where he said:"The introduction of Thomas Doggett shows how London continues to provide visitors with a fantastic welcome and an unrivalled experience."
Parmley said the Thames has been at the heart of the ever-evolving city for centuries while the Thomas Doggett marks a new chapter of the working river.
"We welcome Chinese people to London," he told Xinhua, "Let me reassure your viewers that despite a few terrorist and incidents recently, London is a very safe place to come and I do encourage people to come here and experience this great city."
The launch of the new boat comes months after the two attacks at Westminster and London Bridge.
The vessel has been named after the famous 17th century Irish actor Thomas Doggett who started the first Doggett Coat and Badge, a rowing race 302 years ago for young watermen who worked on the river.