Pick a Great New Year’s Eve Cruise in Sydney 2022-23

Are you thinking of booking a New Year’s Eve Cruise in Sydney to watch the Sydney Fireworks and say goodbye to 2022? Well, you aren’t alone! Questions about NYE cruises in Sydney fill travel forums and our inbox every year. This usually starts mid year but after two years of border closures, it seems interest is high. Get in early this year for the best choice.

NYE on Sydney Harbour from Captain Cook Cruises
Get some great photos from the deck of your cruise Credit: Captain Cook Cruises.

Choosing your New Year’s Eve cruise in Sydney

While we have taken a bunch of Harbour Cruises, we have only spent one NYE cruising. It’s a big-ticket night, so not something you repeat too often. I have, however, done lots of special occasion cruising and helped family, friends and readers choose dozens of NYE cruises. So today we have pulled together our best tips on choosing a NYE cruise so you can make sure your NYE goes off without a hitch because when it comes to boats and Sydney Harbour, it’s not always smooth sailing.

Choose an accessible pickup and drop-off location for your New Year’s Eve Cruise

The first thing to consider is where you will join the cruise. If it’s departing from an odd location or even one that is hard to get to from home, it becomes more trouble than it’s worth.

If you can, choose a wharf that is near public transport, or parking if you have a designated driver. Let’s face it; no one is in the mood to walk kilometres at the end of a long night of partying.

Note: New Year’s Eve sees lots of city streets closed and your usual parking spots or transport routes may not be available, so plan ahead.

Decide if you want a BYO cruise or a fully catered option?

New Year’s Eve cruises, whether ticketed or through a private charter, fall into one of two categories; Bring Your Own and catered. If your cruise is catered, then make sure you know exactly what is and is not included.

Catered cruises are usually one of three types: canape and finger food, buffet or seated menu. Many operators are happy to work with your specific dietary requirements, so reach out directly and ask if you have any special needs.

Bitter chocolate pie on our Captain Cook cruise

Along with the different food menus are different drink options. Some offer regular bars where you buy what you would like to consume. More often though, some sort of drinks package is included. Everything from the premium packages with imported beers and bubbles to the basic local beers, house wine and spirits.

If you choose a chartered boat rather than one of the packages on offer by cruise operators, you are more likely to find they offer a BYO option. The major benefit of this option is that you can take along exactly what you want to drink, and you can save if you are not much of a drinker.

If you go with the BYO option, double check that there are no corkage fees, that you can bring your esky to keep the drinks at perfect temperature or that they have cooling on offer onboard.

Make sure the boat has secured a good position for the fireworks show!

Seems like a simple decision, but it’s not. Many of the less expensive boats don’t exactly have stellar positions assigned to them. If your boat is positioned inside the exclusion zone you will be in the thick of the action with amazing views.

If your cruise is part of the Harbour of Light Parade, chances are it will have a prime position when the clock strikes 12, but if not, double-check with the operator.

Beyond the wharf ferry
While you might be on the harbour, can you see the Harbour Bridge?

There are two things you should check:

  • They assigned larger boats a general vicinity to anchor in for the show. Smaller charters rely on the skill and experience of the captain to find the best spot.
  • Also, consider the vessel itself. There is often limited space on the outside decks; some boats don’t even have an outdoor area, so you will watch the fireworks from behind glass. Sure, it might be cheaper, but is this what you want?

Harbour of Lights Parade

2022 Harbour of Lights parade has not yet been confirmed, however 60 vessels are expected to take part and this will include most of the big operators.

Harbour of light parade New Years Eve Cruise in Sydney
Selected boats are decorated in fairy lights and parade the harbour from 9 to 11.30pm

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 is a fantastic experience, but whether you are in, it affects where and how soon you anchor. The boats that take part in this parade get the best anchor spots.

Check with your cruise operator to see if they have any boats taking part in this parade, as I highly recommend it, not just because you get an excellent anchor spot but because it truly is a breathtaking experience. The list of Harbour of Lights’ official vessels is usually announced in late August. Boats may then advertise that they will be part of the parade.

New Year’s Eve Cruise 2022-23

There have been quite a few changes in the cruise scene over the last couple of years. If you purchase early, make sure your tickets are fully refundable in the event of cancellation.

So now on to the boats I would consider if I was buying New Year’s Eve tickets.

NYE on a Tall Ship

For a completely different night, spend a night on a boat of a similar size to the ships of the First Fleet.

One company I have cruised with (but not on NYE) and loved is Sydney Harbour Tall Ships. They have two Tall Ships that are positioned in the exclusion zone, meaning you have an excellent view of all the fireworks action. You can see the ships’ locations, in Circular Quay between the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge in the photo below.

You can see the tall shop location at the bottom right Credit: Travello, Sydney Harbour Tall Ships

The Southern Swan and the Soren Larsen provide a fantastic experience. Plenty of deck space, a great atmosphere with lots of music.

Your ticket includes:

  • Delicious canapes & finger food
  • All bubbly, wines, beers, soft drinks, juices & water
  • A live band playing popular music & requests

The tall ships, however, are sadly not wheelchair accessible, nor are they suitable for younger children.

The Jackson

The newest luxury vessel on Sydney Harbour, the Jackson offers elegant comfort and guarantees a top notch experience on NYE.

On offer is a 7 course meal, including a 5 course degustation and a midnight supper. The 6.5-Hour All-Inclusive Platinum Beverage Package features free flowing Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label NV, signature cocktails and top shelf spirits, craft beer and a selection of premium wines.

THe Jackson NYE
Fine dining on the Jackson

The boat will be positioned inside the exclusion zone for an outstanding view of the fireworks shows at 9pm and midnight.

Hit the rooftop bar for free flowing champagne

There will be live entertainment on each of the decks and at Moët & Chandon Ice Imperial Rooftop Bar, a DJ to party the night away.

Captain Cook Cruises – 2022 on sale now!

Captain Cook is one of the most experienced cruise operators on Sydney Harbour with two vessels out this year. This is a lovely way to see in the New Year and any night on Sydney Harbour is a good night in our book.

Captain Cook Sydney Harbour

Where Captain Cook excels is in their food offerings. We have dined on their boats both as a guest and as paying customers in the last couple of years and have been impressed by what they offer.

Here are a few samples from meals we have had on the Sydney 2000 vessel.

A seafood entrée on Sky Deck – Paddock to Claw dinner
A barramundi main on Ocean Deck – Australia Day

NYE Sky Deck Dinner – The top deck of the MV Sydney has 6-course degustation menu paired with Penfold’s premium wines including a 75ml glass of world-famous Penfolds Grange. You will celebrate in style with bottomless Penfolds Rose Champagne (France) & premium spirits and a midnight celebration cocktail.

There will be live music and access to the top roof deck. Tickets are on sale now and cost $1499pp. A window seat is available for a surcharge. Sold out

NYE Club Deck Dinner – The middle deck on the MV Sydney has a 5-course dinner including canapes at midnight. Bottomless French Champagne and premium drinks included. You will be entertained with live music and there is a glass of Champagne at midnight. Tickets on sale now $1199pp. Sold out

Captain Cook Gold Cruise seating
Our window seat on the Club Deck

Ocean Deck – This is the entry-level of the boat and is the best choice for those with limited mobility. You have fantastic harbour views, with lounge-style seating and no need to climb the stairs. The menu on this level will offer Mezze Platter for two, a decadent dessert platter of elegant petit fours, truffles and choc dipped strawberries and Roving Canapes at midnight. Bottomless Cocktails and a selection of premium beverages will be offered all night.

Live entertainment to keep you in a party mood till midnight. Window seats can be guaranteed for an extra $50pp. On sale now for $899pp. Sold out

Captain Cook Rocket
Captain Cook Rocket

Captain Cook Rocket – The BYO option – you supply the food and drinks and let Captain Cook take care of the view. Board at King Street Wharf at 7.30pm for your 5.5-hour cruise. The 2023 early bird tickets are available now. Sold out

Other Sydney NYE cruise operators

  • Sydney Harbour Tall Ships – With two stunning tall ships, usually inside the inclusion zone, this is a fun night out. Tickets include dinner, drinks and live music for $949
  • MV Jerry Bailey Includes cruise, buffet dinner, and beer, wine, and soft drinks for $899
  • Glass Boat Cruise – This 5-hour Sydney Harbour cruise includes an open bar, canapes and buffet dinner and a DJ.
  • The MV Vagabond Spirit – a premium choice offering a seafood and meat carvery and an open bar that includes the premium drinks package). Entertainment is courtesy of a resident DJ. There are four outdoor deck areas and window seating for a large number of indoor seats. Tickets on sale now $825
  • Manly Fast Ferry Cruises – various options starting at $250
  • The Sydney Heritage Fleet Waratah – a fundraiser for the Sydney Heritage Fleet, a great choice for sailing buffs. Tickets are just for your spot on the boat, it’s BYO dinner, snacks and beverage $500pp.

Have you experienced NYE Cruise in Sydney? Are they any tips we have missed?

Got a Question?

Need help to plan 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!

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