Monday, 22 October 2018

Visiting Cutty Sark in Greenwich with Children

Cutty Sark rests in a specially built dry dock by The Thames in Greenwich, South London. Originally built in 1869 to bring tea from China it has been restored to illustrate what a cargo ship was like in the late 19th and early 20th century. The interactive and informative displays make it appealing to children and adults alike. I was invited to visit with my family to find out more and this post contains what you need to know if you are thinking of visiting the British Clipper Ship with children.

The Cutty Sark Clipper Ship against a blue sky


What is there to do for children on a visit to Cutty Sark?

The Cutty Sark has been carefully thought out to ensure that children enjoy their visit. At the Ticket Desk you can pick up an Explorer Trail leaflet aimed at 4 to 11 year olds full of interesting facts and things to look out for on each level of the ship including a place they can stamp their leaflet. For younger children (under 5s) there is a backpack you can borrow to help entertain them. Even without these there is a lot to do.

Throughout the ship there are interactive activities which will appeal to children. The displays include a number of videos and telephones you can pick up to listen to stories so history buffs who can’t read confidently will be able to learn easily, some of these are specifically tailored for children, but they are all easy to understand.

The ’Tween deck is probably the most entertaining for children with numerous different interactive displays. For older children (and adults) you can attempt to sail your boat from Australia to London in the fastest possible time with a display that shows you the direction of the trade winds. My Partner and 7 year old both managed to go the wrong way around the globe extending the fastest route of 73 days to well over 100. My 2 year old managed to get ship wrecked twice before even leaving Australian waters, but she enjoyed turning the wheel.

At various times through out the day there are talks on the top deck by a member of the crew. These are well worth going to. There were lots of people listening to our talk which took about 20 minutes, but it was easy to hear and the children went to the front of the group where they were well entertained. James Robson, the ship's cook talked us through what happened on board including why the toilets were at the front of the ship, how much water the crew got each day and what they ate. He was engaging so the time passed quickly, but it really helped the children understand a bit of what life was like on board.

Inside the Cutty Sark watching a video

2 children playing with a wooden boat

A girl putting her hand inside a box to feel what is inside

A toddler reaching up to touch a globe with red lights to indicate the route of the Cutty Sark

A man in costume with a tea pot in his hand

Toddler Time at Cutty Sark


Every Wednesday in term time there are special sessions for under 4s. There are different themes each week in the 90 minutes which include songs, stories and playtime. They start at 10.00 am and 13.20 pm and cost £5 for one accompanying adult (includes entry to the ship) or you can get annual adult membership for The Royal Museums Greenwich for £44 which allows you to go to Toddler Time for free. The sessions are located on the lower ground dock, underneath the ship.

A view of the Dock underneath the Cutty Sark

What My Family Thought of Our Visit to Cutty Sark


We visited on a Saturday at the beginning of October half term. The attraction was fairly busy, but we could see everything and experience it all easily. I visited with my partner, my 7 year old and my 2 year old. We all had a good time and got something different out of the visit. There were no complaints of boredom at any point, although interestingly my partner was ready to leave long before my children were. We ended up leaving the ship after nearly 2 hours only because my daughters were hungry. I was surprised by how much there was to keep children interested. I don’t often go to museums with the girls because I worry about them wanting to leave before we have got our money's worth, but this wasn’t the case at the Cutty Sark. 

My 2 year old enjoyed herself and after we got home liked going through the leaflet saying “Cutty Sark” repeatedly. My 7 year old also enjoyed herself and took away some new knowledge too. She can now tell you what the front, back, left and right of a ship are called, what the apprentices have to do, what the Cutty Sark carried around the world, that it was very fast for a ship and numerous other facts. She still keeps on calling it "The Cutty Shark" though.

A young girl sitting at the Captain's Table in the Cutty Sark

Two children carrying wooden buckets

An interactive display on the Cutty Sark involving sailing a ship home as quickly as possible

A 7 year old writing a letter home on the Cutty Sark

Practical Things: toilets, food and lifts


There are toilets on the lower ground floor and I spotted a disabled toilet/ baby change on the top floor next to the main lift and stairs (across the walkway from the Main Deck). There is a lift on the ship (where one of the cargo hatches was) so it’s mostly accessible if you have a pushchair (or wheelchair), but you won’t be able to visit the very back of the ship or the Liverpool House (where the Captain’s quarters are). We were told there was somewhere we could leave pushchairs/ scooters on the lower ground floor and although I couldn’t see a specific area when down there it’s worth investigating if you won’t need a pushchair while exploring the ship, but do want to take one out for the day. There is a cloakroom where you can leave your pushchair, coats and bags in the (free entry) National Maritime Museum for £1.

There is a café in the Cutty Sark which serves a range of food and drink (including afternoon tea!). There are also a wide range of places to eat in Greenwich so whatever your food requirements you should be able to find something to eat without going far.

A visit to the Cutty Sark costs £13.50 for adults and £7 for children (age 4 and upwards),  but you can save money by booking in advance online or get better value by combining it with a visit to the Royal Observatory. Season tickets are worth looking at too.

A photo of the cafe serving area on the The Cutty Shark

Getting to Cutty Sark


The location of the Cutty Sark (King William Walk SE10 9HT) in Greenwich makes it easy to get to. It’s a short walk from the Cutty Sark DLR station (always fun with children because they can pretend to drive the train) and not too far from Greenwich and Maze Hill rail stations (Thameslink and Southeastern) and numerous bus routes (129, 177, 180, 188, 199, 286 and 386). You could also take the DLR to Island Gardens and walk through Greenwich foot tunnel. For an extra special way to arrive you could travel by River Bus (a boat) to Greenwich Pier from multiple locations up and down the Thames.

The entrance to Cutty Sark shop and exhibit

What to do with children after visiting the Cutty Sark


There is so much more to explore in Greenwich than just the Cutty Sark. The Royal Museums Greenwich also include: the Royal Observatory, the National Maritime Museum and the Queen’s House art gallery. You can buy individual or combined entry tickets for the Cutty Sark and Royal Observatory, but entry to the normal exhibits at the other 2 museums are free. 

As well as the museums exploring Greenwich with it's lovely charm is easy to do by just wandering around. Greenwich market is great at weekends and includes a number of food outlets (I bought some delicious dairy free cakes) and individual stalls selling handmade products. Greenwich Park is huge and a great place to explore. If you are visiting with children in reasonable weather it’s worth a visit to the playground which has lots to do for different ages including a sand pit (I thought that bit required some warning), I had to spend some time persuading my girls to leave so we could head home. It’s easy to get to the playground from the Cutty Sark, just take the road behind the stern of the ship (that’s the back) and follow it along until you get to the park, then take the path on your left along the edge of the park until you see the playground. 

***Disclosure: we were gifted tickets to visit Cutty Sark in exchange for our honest review and we were compensated for our time. All thoughts are our own***

Image of the Cutty Sark with title: visiting Cutty Sark in Greenwich, London with Children


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4 comments

  1. Such an amazing ship, I expect it is absolutely fascinating! Such lovely images x Sim x

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  2. Oh this looks fabulous. I had no idea there was so much to do!

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  3. This looks brilliant! It’s relatively close to us so I don’t know why we haven’t been before!

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  4. This looks incredible, I will have to add it to our list of things to do when we are in London.

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