I enjoyed an excellent river cruise on Balmoral (the river boat, not Fred Olsen’s cruise ship) in August 2011.
I took this ‘classic’ motor cruiser down the Thames, through the Thames estuary, briefly stopping off at Southend pier, then on to the charming Whitstable, and back.
Balmoral was built in Southampton in 1949 and operated under the Southampton Red Funnel Fleet for 20 years. She later became a floating restaurant and fell into disrepair.
She returned to service in 1986 and to this day operates her main summer season in the Bristol Channel, offering day excursions to popular Coastal Resorts, as well as making visits to other ports & piers throughout the UK in Spring & Autumn.
I’d also recommend the paddle steamer ‘Waverley’ (1947) as well, for a day out.