Last year for the first time in a very long time I spent NYE out on Sydney Harbour. I received two complimentary tickets from Beyond the Wharf for their inaugural New Year’s Eve cruises and to say I was excited would be an understatement. I am a huge fan of spending time on Sydney ferries so was interested to see what they had planned.
These cruises are different from most NYE harbour cruises that are on offer in a few ways. For a start they don’t require a 5- hour time commitment, the ferries only go out for the actual shows meaning you are on the water for about 1.5 hours and they are also self-catered so substantially cheaper than the average cruise. To be honest, this was the main appeal for me. I don’t usually fancy the idea of being stuck on a boat for 5 or more hours just sailing round in circles eating what is often pretty average food and paying $500 and upward for the experience.
How we made a night of it
We decided to watch the midnight fireworks from the Rose Bay boarding as this wharf is easiest to reach from our home. I was working till 4 pm so rather than put together a picnic we headed to Rose Bay early for dinner and to watch the 9 pm fireworks from Lyne Park. We ate at the Club Rose Bay – the food was good but not memorable but the staff were lovely and I would certainly go back. We left the club after dinner to watch the family fireworks show but then went back for another drink before heading down to the wharf. We were lucky enough to win $200 on the pokies after dinner which increased our celebratory mood.
A little before 10 pm we lined up with about 40 others for our 10.30 boarding time. We boarded the Friendship, which was a fitting name because once on board everyone was super friendly. They were plenty of seats as they only sell about half the capacity of the boat. We headed to the back deck and sat next to a woman, Casey, who was visiting from the USA. We got to chatting and I asked her why she chose this cruise from all the ones on offer. She said she had read about it on the man called Sydney Expert’s site. I laughed out loud. It was the first time I had met a “reader” of my blog and it felt pretty good even if she did think I sounded like a man 😉
The cruise is BYO food and drinks but is alcohol-free so we decided not to bring anything on board. I think if I went again I would bring some non-alcoholic sparkling for a midnight toast.
So back to the review…
- no long lines
- no waiting in line for hours to secure your spot
- no badly behaved drunks
- plenty of seating for those who wanted it
- ideal for prams and the elderly
- excellent view – right in the middle of the action
- super friendly staff and a very skilled captain who got us a great viewing spot
- 3 of the cruises leave from places outside the city so less crowd crush getting home
And the not so great
- alcohol free
- limited public transport back to the city from some locations – the buses back to the city were all full with Watson’s Bay crowds by the time they reached Rose Bay so that was a problem for people who did not have cars.
Shot I took from the ferry
Would we do it again?
Yes! This is the test, would we do it again if we had to pay for it? Quite honestly if I wanted to be out on the harbour I would choose this over a longer more expensive cruise even with the alcohol ban. The atmosphere was friendly, and they ferries were certainly not too crowded and we had a fantastic view. Most of all I really enjoyed how easy it was, not having to spend hours lining up or waiting in huge crowds in the free vantage points for the action to start. Celebrate before you board (within reason because I doubt anyone too intoxicated will be allowed to board) and have some extra special nibbles on the boat instead. Next time I would probably bring a picnic to have in the park before as there was a great atmosphere and a good view of the fireworks.
How to book your own Beyond the Wharf NYE Cruise
This year Beyond the Wharf (Sydney Ferries) are offering cruises from four locations. The Circular Quay cruise stays in the wharf as it has a great view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from its berth at the Quay but the others will all be heading to different locations in the harbour.
Times: 9pm – Board at 7.30pm Midnight show – board at 10.45pm
Prices: Early Bird tickets are only $125 for kids and pensioners and $150 for adults.
Locations: Circular Quay, Manly, Rose Bay and Kissing Point
Full details and bookings are available on their website.
For the record, I travelled as a guest of Beyond The Wharf but my opinions are my own and I did not receive any payment for this review.