Thinking of booking a New Years Eve Cruise to watch the Sydney Fireworks and see 2018 out in style? Well, you aren’t alone, questions about NYE cruises in Sydney fill travel forums and my inbox at this time of year.
While I have taken a bunch of Sydney Harbour Cruises I have only spent one NYE cruising, it’s usually outside my budget, to be honest, so I thought I would let Alex Whalley, who has his sea legs and knows the Sydney waterways well share his best tips.
So over to Alex for his 3 best tips you should consider to make sure your night goes off without a hitch because when it comes to boats and Sydney Harbour it’s not always smooth sailing.
1: Accessible Pickup and drop-off Location for your New Year’s Eve Cruise
There is nothing worse than finding out that the New Years Eve Cruise you have booked is actually leaving from a wharf on the Island of Mordor. Made especially worse when there are a few of you in the group, “only one shall pass” you know. Aaaaaannnyway.
Make sure that not only is the location of the wharf central and convenient for everyone, but check also for the availability of parking in the immediate area. It is frustratingly inconvenient ending your cruise only to then demand that your sea legs carry you 3 kilometres through the city to find your car.
*Note that during New Year’s Eve a lot of the city streets are closed and access is restricted. As such it is imperative that you make sure the wharf your cruise departs from is not one of those affected by these restrictions.
Here is a link to an article listing the best 3 places to board your New Years Eve Cruise where parking and transport will not be affected.
2: To B (YO) or Not To Be.
New Years Eve Cruises, whether ticketed or through a private charter fall into one of two categories; BYO and Catered. If your cruise is catered then make sure you know exactly what is and is not included. Most catered cruises will include light canapés as well as basic house wines, spirits and a selection of beers. Your cruise operator should know more specifically what you can expect so don’t be afraid to ask. You should also make mention any specific dietary requirements you may have.
BYO options are more common as many of the boats that provide New Years Eve Cruises do not have the room nor the facilities for wait staff and food preparation etc. I think BYO is the better option as not only does it cut the overall cost of your cruise, it also means you can drink exactly what you want to drink. I’m sure there are many a connoisseur reading this and agreeing in earnest.
Nearly all boats will have facilities for you to store your food and drink but again, make sure to check this for yourself first. Some boats will only have an esky or two and might necessitate you bringing your own – which actually might be easier anyway so again, check that this is OK with that particular boat.
If you book a cruise that is BYO then be sure there are no hidden charges or corkage fees. Most of the New Years Eve Cruises that we offer here at Any Boat do not incur any additional charges for BYO – because why would you?! Other Boat Hire companies do not feel the same way, however, so always check.
3. Make Sure You Can Actually Enjoy The NYE Fireworks!
This may seem like such an obvious statement but, to be honest, this is probably the most important thing to check before booking your cruise.
There are two elements to consider here:
- First of all, you want to make sure the boat and captain are well versed in New Year’s Eve and know where they are going to anchor and have a well-executed plan. Trust me when I say it’s a ‘*%& fight out there’ and if you are going on a cruise or chartering a boat with a smaller less experienced company/captain then you could find yourself anchored a long way away from the action.
- The second thing you need to check is visibility from the boat itself. Most of the boats have limited space outside or upstairs, some do not even have any upstairs at all – and as a result, not everyone is watching the fireworks from outside.
Consider booking a boat that is in the Harbour of Lights Parade
Every year Sydney Harbour is brought to life not just by the fireworks but also by the Harbour of Lights Parade, an annual pilgrimage of boats that make their way down Sydney Harbour. This in itself is a fantastic experience but whether you are in it or not has an impact on where and how soon you anchor. The boats that take part in this parade are said to get the best anchor spots.
Check with your cruise operator to see if they have any boats participating in this parade as I highly recommend it, not just because you get a great anchor spot but because it truly is a breathtaking experience. The Harbour of Lights official vessels are usually announced in determined in late August. Boats may then start advertising that they will be part of the parade.
So now on to the boat I would consider if I was buying New Year’s Eve tickets.
NYE on a Tall Ship
One company I have cruised with (but not on NYE) and loved is Sydney Harbour Tall Ships. They have two Tall Ships are part of the Harbour of Light Parade and also a small boat that is cheaper but does not offer the same views The Southern Swan and the Soren Larsen offer a fantastic experience. Plenty of deck space, a great atmosphere with lots of music (last year it was Irish themed, I am not sure if it will be the same in 2018)
The tall ships are sadly not wheelchair accessible nor is it suitable for younger children.
Have you experienced NYE Cruise in Sydney? Are they any tips we have missed?
Need help planning your NYE in Sydney? Join our Sydney Expert Facebook Group where you can ask questions, read reviews from last year’s guests and meet a bunch of friendly locals happy to share their advice!