Review: Sydney Harbour lunch cruise offers a delicious afternoon on the water
Sydney Harbour is truly spectacular and you'll see the best of it on this wonderful sightseeing and lunch cruise. Enjoy a BBQ buffet and a visit to historic Shark Island as part of the package. Review: Susan Hinchey
Sydney Harbour lunch cruise with Sydney Princess Cruises
Explore amazing Sydney Harbour and enjoy a tasty BBQ buffet lunch on this great value afternoon cruise. You’ll make a stop at one of the harbour’s most picturesque islands, where there’s the opportunity to snorkel or cool off with a refreshing dip. This cruise is a relaxed way to experience the magic of Sydney’s famous waterway. Duration: 3 hours (approx.)
Best price guarantee: If you find this tour elsewhere at a cheaper price, we will beat it by 10%. Some conditions apply. There are no booking or credit card fees when you book this tour with The Big Bus tour and travel guide.
You can relax on its sublime sandy coves, scale its soaring cliffs or hike along its beautiful foreshores.
Once you lay eyes on it, you fall in love with it. Sydney Harbour is possibly the most beautiful natural harbour in the world, and there’s no better way to get to know it than from the water on a harbour cruise. You’ll discover secret spots and enjoy amazing views at every turn. It’s also a chance to see the city of Sydney from an entirely different perspective (without the crowds and traffic!).
Today I’m joining Sydney Princess Cruises on their three-hour Sydney Harbour lunch cruise. There are lots of Sydney Harbour cruises on offer, but this is one of just a handful that give you free time to explore one of the harbour’s islands.
After a 10 to 15-minute walk from Wynyard Station, I board my catamaran at King Street Wharf 8 — right beside Sydney Sea-Life Aquarium. Our vessel has two levels, giving the 70 passengers on board plenty of room to spread out.
Leaving the city hustle and bustle behind, Captain Sean begins his entertaining commentary about the harbour. It’s a warm February day and Sydney is turning on the weather in the best possible way. Fluffy clouds drift overhead and the deep blue water shimmers in the sunshine.
Within minutes we cruise past Barangaroo Reserve — Sydney’s newest tract of green space, where massive golden boulders of sandstone hold back the tides. Scooting past the Wharf Theatre (home to the Sydney Theatre Company), the city’s most famous landmarks — the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House — come into view. Out come the phones, marking the beginning of a day of selfies. Our gentle cruising speed allows plenty of time for photo opportunities and the chance to spot Sammy the seal — a regular visitor to the Opera House steps.
I take a break from taking happy-snaps to grab some lunch from the buffet of grilled meats and salads. There’s a licensed bar on board, and drinks are available for purchase. The indoor tables are surrounded by large picture windows, so diners can continue to enjoy the passing scenery.
We pass the Royal Botanic Garden, and Garden Island and the imposing vessels of the Royal Australian Navy. Our view then becomes more voyeuristic as we cruise close by the multi-million-dollar homes of Rose Bay and Vaucluse.
One of the highlights of the cruise is the opportunity to explore Shark Island. We have an hour of playtime on this slice of paradise, which is part of Sydney Harbour National Park. The island was named by the first inhabitants because of its shape (not because of what might be found in the surrounding waters). The island served as an animal quarantine station and naval depot until 1975.
Measuring just 250 metres long and 100 metres wide, the island is easily circumnavigated along a well-maintained path. Helpful crew-member Caine joins us on this relaxing stroll. The more adventurous of our group have brought snorkelling gear (also available for hire on the cruise). A couple of small sandy beaches on the protected side of the island are suitable for swimming, but I stay dry and explore every nook and cranny of the island’s historic buttresses and granite boulders.
Finding a peaceful hilltop spot under a palm tree, my 360-degree views of the harbour are punctuated only by the occasional ferry or private yacht gliding by. There are no shops or development to spoil the ambience.
Our vessel returns after an hour to collect us for the trip along the northern harbour shoreline. We pass gun placements at Bradley’s Head, catch glimpses of Taronga Zoo’s enclosures, and spy the idyllic small coves of Cremorne and Kirribilli.
Sliding back under the bridge and past the smiling face of Luna Park, my sensation of having been on an overseas trip stays with me for the rest of the day.
Susan Hinchey is a Sydney-based freelance travel writer who, even as a teenager growing up in country NSW, knew she wanted to see the world. A couple of years out of high school Susan embarked on an eight-week Grand European Contiki tour. Since then she has visited Alaska, Canada, Thailand, Vanuatu, Fiji, Greece, parts of North America, and Britain several times.