What?: I’d never been aboard the Cutty Sark, despite walking past it every time we’ve been to the Maritime Museum (and we must be close to our billionth visit by now), so I was excited about this session, whose £5 adult-and-toddler fee seemed much more affordable than the standard walk-on price – an eye-watering £13.50 for adults (and £6.50 for 4-15s). Sessions are held beneath the ship’s hull in the spacious, shriek-absorbing Sammy Ofer Gallery, and parents and carers are told to expect an hour and a half of songs, stories and play, with themes changing each week.
Our theme was sheep and haircuts, with the craft activity involving giving a paper sheep head a new hairdo using Pritt Stick, tissue paper and pom poms, and the story revolving around a ram called Sheepy whose crap new ‘do makes him sad. While I think we can all relate to Sheepy’s predicament, I did find the story kind of lame and by about two minutes in Bab and her friend had totally lost interest and abandoned Sheepy and his cardboard barber shop in favour of running up and down the gallery’s (rather precarious) steps and eyeballing the colourful but creepy figureheads.
We managed to coax them back for all of five minutes during the playtime session – long enough for them both to get stuck in the pop-up play tunnel – before they completely lost interest and we decided to give up and extract them altogether. Thankfully entry to the rest of the ship was included in the ticket price, and we spent a blissful hour post-play doing what we’d all secretly been itching to do whilst bleating along to Baa, Baa Black Sheep – running around in the sunshine up on the deck.
The main deck is surprisingly great for toddlers, provided you don’t let them poop in the non-functioning toilet, disappear into the pig pens or jump overboard (don’t worry, they’d have to be pretty gymnastically gifted to achieve the latter), and they’ll love exploring the crew accommodation with its convertible seating, little galley kitchen and resident seafarer on hand to show them around – and if they don’t there’s even an interactive steering game on the middle (‘Tween) deck.
Where and When?: Sessions take place at 10–11.30am and 1.20-2.50pm on term-time Wednesdays. The Cutty Sark is located at King William Walk in Greenwich and is a short stroll from Cutty Sark (for Maritime Greenwich) DLR station.
Best Bits: You can’t argue with the £5 price tag, which makes coming to one of these sessions a much more purse-friendly option than paying for general admission.
Worst Bits: Given the amazing setting, I really think a ‘toddler takeover’-type affair with dressing up and actors in costume would be much more fun for everyone than a generic, could-be-happening-anywhere craft-and-story session.
Facilities: Step-free access, buggy park, baby changing, cafe, materials included.
Cost: £5 per adult, free for kids.
Would We Come Back?: Yes, but mostly to gain access to the rest of the ship.
Bab keeps lookout on board the Cutty Sark, Greenwich.