Even though I was due for a Don’t, it still doesn’t feel good. All these places mean well, but they just keep missing the mark. SEA LIFE London Aquarium is no exception. It could be spectacular, but it’s just a budget-level aquarium in the center of tourist traps.
Located right next to Westminster Bridge on the South Bank, by the London Eye, you’ll find SEA LIFE London Aquarium. It’s advertised as part of the top London attractions that can be visited with the London Pass or discounted when purchasing at least one other top attraction. It makes sense to purchase several if you are interested, since one attraction costs around £35, but it is only £10 more for each addition.
I knew the aquarium would be busy because it was part of this deal and heavily advertised, but it was way more crowded than I expected. It may have been due to the lack of organization. The ticket line was long and out of the 5 registers at the front, only one was open. Once through, we had hoped the guests would have been staggered from the single cashier, but nope, we were surrounded by groups of tourists without social graces and loud zig-zagging children.
The crowds would have been fine if the content was a little more impressive. I’ve been to a lot of aquariums, and this had the smallest selection. You won’t see any marine mammals which could be due to their lack of space, indoor and outdoor. The fish you do see are the usual tropical species, a couple guest stars, and some small sharks. These are seen in dark spaces and through murky, hazy glass. I found it very dark and dingy. Coming from the great New England aquariums, this definitely seemed third-world. If they upped their interiors a little bit, made it more interactive, and actually replaced all the missing signs describing the fish, they would be better off.
I did like the skate and ray pool that was open at the top. This offers the closest views of the fish without the obstruction of glass. But I had seen this many times. I l have even been to some aquariums that let you pet the sting rays!
The last issue I had with the SEA LIFE London Aquarium were the constant humanitarian messages. The need for awareness is great, but the boldness and darkness of the signs I was passing in the halls were not what I paid for. I paid for a positive tourist experience. One sign said “A SHARK IS GETTING SLAUGHTERED AT SEA RIGHT NOW.” I do not think the word “slaughtered” is very appropriate for a child or adult’s to see on a vacation activity. Save that for Speaker’s Corner.
Even though it wasn’t the greatest place ever, I was glad I checked out the SEA LIFE London Aquarium. I did have fun, feeling like a kid, there with my dad visiting from the States, but I surely can’t recommend this place over any other aquariums. If you haven’t been to an aquarium before, though, then it can be your starter aquarium? I’m trying. Good luck.
SEA LIFE London Aquarium
Westminster Bridge Road
London SE1 7PB