Pick a Great New Year’s Eve Cruise in Sydney 2023-24
Are you thinking of booking a New Year’s Eve Cruise in Sydney to watch the Sydney Fireworks and not sure where to begin? Well, you aren’t alone! Questions about NYE cruises in Sydney fill travel forums and our inbox every year. Cruises usually starts filling up mid October but after a few years of border closures, it seems interest is high. Get in early this year for the best choice. Some have sold out in August this year.
I have personally attended the NYE Fireworks show in Sydney over 20 times. I have watched from a boat, the Opera House, The Botanic Gardens, a harbour island and Mrs Macquaries Point. Among my most memorable experiences have been the times out on the water but there is a huge range in quality of NYE Harbour cruises so today I want to share some tips to help you make a good decision.
Top 5 NYE Cruises
In a hurry and don’t really want to read over the detailed advice below. Well here you go!
- Most Unique NYE Cruise – Sydney Harbour NYE Tallship Experience. – Sold out!
- Best NYE Cruise for families – Ocean Dreaming 9pm cruises from Darling Harbour or Manly.
- Best NYE Cruise for partying – Bella Vista with a DJ to provide the summer night beats.
- Best NYE Cruise to impress– The Jackson is a brand-new high end ship.
- Best NYE Cruise for foodies – Captain Cook do a wonderful dinner on NYE. – Almost sold out
Choose an accessible pickup and drop-off location for your NYE 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.
A New Year’s Eve cruise in Sydney Is a big-ticket item. These tips on finding a good NYE cruise will help make sure you pick a quality cruise, because when it comes to Sydney Harbour Cruises ON NYE, it’s not always smooth sailing.
Make sure you know who the operator is
Boats of all sizes are available for charter on Sydney Harbour so it’s important to make sure the operator you pay for your cruise is reputable. There have been occasions in the past when people have handed over large sums on money only to find no boat turns up on NYE.
Check out the company selling the tickets, look at Google reviews, ask in our group or stick to buying from an OTA like Australian owned and operated Travello (our preferred partner), Get your Guide or Viator.
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.
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.
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?
How much do new years eve cruises in Sydney cost?
If you want to be on the water under the fireworks, then you are looking at somewhere between $399 and A$1500 per person for a food and drink package.
All the leading tour operators offer cruises on Sydney Harbour on New Year’s Eve with some of the big-name boats charging up to A$1500 per person. For that, you get a 6-hour cruise with a five-course meal and drinks.
This is a great way to experience Sydney on NYE if you can afford it. Just do your homework and make sure you chose a vessel that is suited to your musical/food tastes. 20 something’s may not like to listen to a 60’s band all night 😉 just like 50+ might not like 5 hours of dance music.
At about 9.20pm after the first round of fireworks, many of the vessels on the water turn on their lights and parade up and down the harbour until the midnight fireworks.
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 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 tend to get the best anchor spots.
There has not been much talk of the Harbour of Lights parade this year. I have not seen a list of confirmed vessels however it will include most of the big operators.
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.
Another way of ensuring you will have a good vantage point is to choose a boat that advertises they will be positioned in the exclusion zone.
New Year’s Eve Cruise 2023-24
So now on to the boats I would consider if I was buying New Year’s Eve tickets this year.
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.
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 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 boat will be positioned inside the exclusion zone for an outstanding view of the fireworks shows at 9pm and midnight. Book now
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.
Ring in the New Year on Starship Sydney! Enjoy all-inclusive food, drinks, and entertainment with a view of the 9pm and midnight fireworks. Dance to the tunes of a well-known Sydney Party Band and DJ.
Starship Sydney features three levels of unobstructed views, two-metre high glass windows, and two open deck areas for a stylish New Year celebration.
This 5-hour cruise which departs from King Street Wharf will feature Canapé and Gourmet Food Stations, a beer and wine package, and is only suitable for adults 18+.
Starship Sydney will have a prime viewing spot for Sydney Harbour NYE fireworks.
Captain Cook Cruises
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.
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.
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 sold out for 2023
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 $1190pp. – Tickets are sold out for 2023 (10/10/23)
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. Tickets on sale now $1090. – last seats selling now (15/10/23)
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. $550pp – Sold out 31/8/23
Other Sydney NYE cruise operators
- The Jackson – Seven course Dinner including a Five-course Degustation menu along with a 6.5-Hour All-Inclusive Platinum Beverage Package featuring free flowing Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label NV, signature cocktails and top shelf spirits, craft beer and a selection of premium wines $1499. – Last seats selling now (15/10/23)
- NYE on the Bella Vista – a Glass Boat – A DJ to entertain, five-hour beverage package, roaming canapes a standing buffet and dessert. The vessel has 3m high glass wraparound windows and an open top deck with 360-degree views of magnificent Sydney Harbour. $899.
- Ocean Dreaming 9pm Family Cruise – Departing from Darling Harbour at 7.15pm this 2.5 hour tour is perfect for families and anyone wanting to avoid the midnight chaos home. $350.
- Ocean Dreaming Manly Cruise – Another 9pm option for those staying on the northern side of the harbour $350
- 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 $949
- 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 from $499 – Sold out Sept 23
There are dozens more operators but these are the key companies who have experience and a history of good service. We do not actively recommend other operators as many charter ships for the night so we have no idea who is actually operating the event and if you will get value for money. Please do due dilegence before you book.
About the author: Paula Morgan, a born-and-bred Sydney resident, has been sharing this city and its secret spots for over 15 years. She’s not just about the iconic landmarks; she’s all about the hidden alleys adorned with street art, and the joy of discovering a new café or a fabulous restaurant tucked away in a corner you never knew existed and weekends away exploring regional NSW.