I was asked by the rather nice people at Superbreak if I would like to have a day out and blog a review. What a fine idea! So we planned a trip to London for a day of aquatic action at the Sealife Centre London Aquarium.
Superbreak organise your trip for you, hotel, theatre tickets, whatever you need they will sort it all from one web page. Although I didn't need a hotel I did take a peek at the website and the prices (for London!) did seem quite reasonable, they don't only cover London of course and there are some great mini-break ideas on their site.
But enough, let us move on to the Aquarium, only a couple of hours from my house via train and tube and we were at the side of the Thames, after a snack in Subway (in Belvedere Road and a lot less busy than McDonalds which is next to the Aquarium) and a quick wee in Starbucks (don't ask) we shot past the queueing tourists with our priority passes (definitely worth investing in!)
I must mention the ticket prices, yes they are expensive, but trust me they are worth it - there are lots of fish, lots! and penguins (and they all need feeding!) and so much more, we walked round neither fast nor slow and it took us over two hours, you could easily spend longer. I do think that you might want to wait until your kids are over 6 before visiting though, although as DD said, children vary if you think your toddler would love 3 hours in semi-darkness looking at fish, go for it - I think for most little children a trip to the local pet shop would be as good.
So, you walk in and .... I won't spoil the surprise but let's say if you are scared of sharks this may not be your best day out!
As you walk around you are shown so many amazing animals, and taught so much I can't even begin to do it justice! The guide book is fairly flimsy but useful and at £2.50 is a good souvenir (the shop sells all the usual plastic fish etc, we didn't see anything very exciting there) and the children are given a little Dive Logbook that they can stamp at 'dive stations' as they travel round.
We really enjoyed the ray tank, with the nosey rays spying on our electric fields (yes we asked the guide why the rays popped their 'noses' out of the water), and the wandering spider crabs.
DD and her friend loved these the most but I was a fan of the sharks. The shark tank is huge and you often come back to it on the meandering multilevel journey through the dark. In this tank were also two enormous turtles and we were lucky to see one very close up as he slept wedged between the rocks and the glass (yes he was alive, he woke up and swam away while we watched)
And as well as turtles there are other reptiles too, some red-eared terrapins (making me remember the terrapins my brother and I kept when we were children) and a rather fine caiman.
I was giggling for several minutes on seeing a suspicious request on a sign.
The penguins were fun and we arrived just in time to see them being fed, swallowing down whole herring!! One Penguin apparently once ate 21 herring in a day! No wonder they look so plump!
The aquarium has a big eco message with lots of advice on how you can help save our oceans.
So we enjoyed the day a lot, I would suggest not taking small children who get bored easily as you may find you don't get your money's worth as the Aquarium is HUGE, but there is lots to see and if you are making a day (or half day) of it it's good value for money (after all, herring aren't cheap and lord alone knows how much it costs to feed a shark!) And don't forget you can get discounts for buying online, up to 25% if you book for an after 3pm visit
Oh and we found Nemo.