NB: A previous version of this piece said the boat had already docked in London. It has not. City A.M. apologises for any confusion.
Businesses are mobile – and that’s especially true in the case of Oceandiva London, an 86m-long, three storey events vessel that is arriving in London soon.
For Chloe Jackson, one of the brains behind the project, the docking of one of the most talked about new ships in the world in the capital will be a “vote of confidence” in London’s recovery.
“One client told us they saw the boat, and they had to have their event in London, they wanted this James Bond feel. Something like this can be a draw to London and then to other venues and events,” she tells me.
It’s been a long journey for Oceandiva London, built in a Dutch shipyard and the result of a partnership between a Dutch events company and The Smart Group, where Jackson serves as MD.
In short, it’s an events space on an extremely snazzy vessel shooting up and down the Thames; one that also happens to be extremely green, being carbon neutral and receiving the Green Award’s Platinum Label.
The launch of the sustainable events vessel delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, is still something of a movable feast. For all the boat’s green credentials, it has become stuck in a rather complex planning process involving the borough of Newham, where it has applied for an premises licence, and residents of surrounding boroughs including Southwark, Greenwich and Tower Hamlets.
Most of the objections revolve around fears of drunk partygoers disembarking in Butler’s Wharf in Shadthames into the small hours.
The team behind Oceandiva London, with the boat almost in London, plan to host a series of test events and getting-to-know-you sessions with those same residents – filming and recording noises and disembarkation to prove their point.
“A lot of the information out there is incorrect. Some are suggesting there’s a helipad on board, that we’re going for 1500 people and a 24-hour licence,” says Jackson.
“We needed to get the boat here so that we can demonstrate it is, you know, essentially a corporate events venue, just like many others within London, the difference being this is on the Thames.”
Jackson credits organisations like London and Partners for being supportive. “Should this not come to London it would be really a travesty. It is such an exciting opportunity for the city and it does bring so much positivity along with it.”
Whether Newham Council agree with Jackson is another matter, but it’s hard to see too many people on Oceandiva London complaining about a high-end events space and views from the river itself on a sunny evening.
And, of course, business is mobile. If Oceandiva London doesn’t get a licence after these test events, that truism will no doubt be proven correct.