The Best Sydney Harbour Cruise Experiences

There is something really special a Sydney Harbour cruise. Seeing the city from the water is hard to beat and while the ferries are fabulous. The city looks even more beautiful when you can really spend some time soaking it in comfort on a leisurely harbour cruise. Whether you’re a traveller new to Sydney’s shores, a passenger on a cruise ship or a proud local, time out on the harbour is always memorable. With a wide range of cruises available, there’s no excuse not to climb aboard!

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Ask a local and they might tell you to forgo a cruise and take a ferry ride instead. I say do both, while the ferry is great, and you should take as many as you have time for, a harbour cruise is a special experience that allows you to spend more time on the water, see parts the ferry routes don’t cover, and learn more about the history of the city and its iconic waterway.

Check out these great Sydney Harbour cruise experiences and see which one suits you best.

Sydney Harbour Sunset Dinner Cruise

As a local, you forget just how beautiful it is on the harbour at night. We only go on a dinner cruise for a special birthday or if we have visitors in town. Whether you are here for a quick visit or have spent your entire night here, it’s a lovely way to spend the evening.

Journey Beyond Harbour Cruise in Sydney

There is nothing nicer than sipping a glass of champagne while you watch the harbour turn from day to evening. Several companies offer dinner cruises on Sydney Harbour, and the quality and offerings vary.

When choosing a cruise, you can find some with a drinks package (wine, beer and soft drinks). Captain Cook allows you to pay extra for a window seat for front-row views of cityscape sparkling as you enjoy your dinner. Captain Cook

Two that we think are very good value are:

If you are looking to splurge, the Captain Cook Penfold’s wine dinner is an excellent choice.

Tall Ship Cruise

Step back in time onboard the authentic 1850s tall ship. Imagine you are sailing into Sydney harbour with new cargo for the colony. 

The crew are happy to explain how they sail the boat and you can even pay a little extra for a climb the mast experience if you dare. Our Captain told us a little about the history of Sydney and our two-hour cruise was a perfect way to see the harbour for the first time or as a local, appreciating how lucky we are.

Sydney Harbour tall ship near the Opera House
Sydney Harbour Tallship Deck space

Sydney Tallships have two vessels, the Southern Swan and the Soren Larsen. Watch the action unfold or pitch in and help. The choice is yours.

I have enjoyed the twilight cruise and the dinner cruise and thought they were both great value for money. I highly recommended this experience!

All cruises leave from Campbells Cove in the Rocks and book out early in peak season.

There are 3 options you can consider:

There is no fancy seated dining, instead you enjoy time on deck on a historic vessel that lets you imagine life in colonial Sydney.

Sydney Harbour High Tea Cruise

High teas are so popular right now for special occasions, but they are also a lovely way to catch up with friends or give your feet a rest after a long day of sightseeing. They are great for the first half of your hen’s day with aunties and grandmothers before you party with your girls. They are also great for landmark birthdays and mother’s day.

Sydney Harbour High Tea Cruise
Captain Cook Afternoon Tea Cruise

We recently took a high tea cruise with Captain Cook and while it was not quite the luxury experience that you might find in one of Sydney’s 5-star hotels, it was delicious and the 90 minute cruise a very enjoyable way to see the harbour.

Planning your Sydney vacation? Check out our guide for 7 perfect days in Sydney.

Sydney Harbour Lunch Cruise

Get the full Sydney experience on a seafood buffet lunch cruise as you feast on prawns, oysters and more while you travel around the harbour. Learn more about the Emerald City from the experienced onboard staff offering interesting commentary throughout the journey.

Once you have finished lunch, you still have plenty of time to head on deck and snap the harbour’s icons.

  • Sydney Harbour Premium Lunch Cruise with Journey Beyond is a premium 2 course meal that includes matching wines (or beer and soft drinks).
  • Sydney Harbour Long Dinner or Lunch Cruise is at the other end of the spectrum. This four and a half experience includes cruising with drinks to enjoy your meals at some of Sydney’s finest waterfront restaurants, including Doyles Seafood Restaurant in Watsons Bay and Public Dining Room in Balmoral. A superb choice for a memorable special occasions on the Sydney Harbour.
Sydney Harbour lunch cruise
Mix on deck dining with stops at 2 great local restaurants

Sydney Harbour Jet boat Cruise

If you prefer a bit more of an adrenaline rush when you hit the water, this one is for you! The bright yellow Thunder Jet will have you zipping around the harbour and get you right up close to its most famous sites.

Sydney Harbour Cruise Jet Boat
Are you brave enough to ridge the Thunder Jet?

This ride lasts 30 minutes and comes complete with a great soundtrack and a poncho to keep you dry as you twist, turn and fishtail your way around the harbour.

Check out the Thunder Boat Thrill Ride and experience the harbour’s wild side!

Read our list of 25 Free things to do in Sydney on your first visit.

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