5 Best Sydney Harbour Cruises (Lunch and Dinner)

Last updated: May 7, 2024

Reviews of five of the best Sydney Harbour cruises, lunch and dinner, based on value for money, duration, inclusions, route, and tour operator.

The incredible Sydney Harbour is one of Australia’s biggest tourist drawcards. One of the best ways to take in all the popular sights and natural beauty of the Harbour is by doing a cruise.

While a Sydney Harbour cruise may not be for everyone, it certainly is a fun and exciting way to fully appreciate our Harbour’s beauty.

We have tried and tested some of the best Sydney Harbour cruises and have shortlisted five that we think will deliver the most memorable sightseeing and dining experiences.

Top 5 Sydney Cruises:

Cruise Price
1 All-Inclusive Premium Lunch Cruise
2 Harbour Cruise with 3-Course Dinner
3 Captain Cook A La Carte Lunch Cruise
4 Tall Ship Afternoon Harbour Cruise
5 Captain Cook Sydney Harbour Dinner Cruise

Top 5 Sydney Cruises

The below five Sydney Harbour cruises are selected based on the tour operator’s reputation, value for money, duration, inclusions, customer reviews, and overall quality and experience.

We’ve picked a variety of different cruises, some with lunch or dinner included, others purely focussed on sightseeing.

Before you make a booking, consider the following:

  • Do you prefer daytime or nighttime?
  • Would you like to have a meal with your cruise?
  • How long do you wish the cruise to go for?
  • Do you want to see just the major highlights or also a few hidden gems?
  • Would you like the cruise to also include music or a show?

1. All-Inclusive Premium Lunch Cruise

Sydney Harbour Bridge

This premium lunch cruise experience is a 2.5-hour Harbour adventure that includes a delicious a la carte lunch plus dessert, with a range of beverages to choose from.

You will be cruising on a 78-foot long luxury vessel with a large top deck where you will have plenty of space to take in the beautiful 360-degree Harbour and city views.

Departure is from King Street Wharf in Darling Harbour, travelling to Watsons Bay on the other side of the Harbour.

We love this cruise as it offers the best combination of food and sightseeing, while on a comfortable and spacious vessel, with friendly staff as a welcome bonus.

Check Price

All-Inclusive Premium Lunch Cruise
Operator: Journey Beyond Cruise Sydney
Time of day: Afternoon
Duration: 2.5 hours
Inclusions: Lunch

2. Harbour Cruise with 3-Course Dinner

Sydney Harbour views from Barangaroo Reserve

This dinner cruise is the second cruise offered by Journey Beyond Cruise Sydney. It is very similar to the first one, with the key difference being that this is a night cruise.

Jumping on board their vessel means you’re going to have a three-hour Harbour adventure that includes a premium dining experience.

It departs from Darling Harbour just when the sun begins to set, and travels past all the major Harbour and city highlights, including Luna Park and Taronga Zoo.

The spacious vessel has various decks with plenty of room to move around for the best 360-degree views of the surrounding scenery. The dinner experience consists of three courses using fresh and regionally sourced ingredients.

Check Price

Harbour Cruise with 3-Course Dinner
Operator: Journey Beyond Cruise Sydney
Time of day: Evening
Duration: 3 hours
Inclusions: Dinner

3. Captain Cook A La Carte Lunch Cruise

Captain Cook Cruises vessel in Sydney Harbour

This relaxing afternoon lunch cruise hosted by Captain Cook Cruises is suitable for those looking for an uplifting Harbour experience while enjoying a two or three-course lunch meal. It’s a three-hour afternoon cruise, perfect for a lazy and relaxing Sunday.

The boat features several dining areas with large windows, and a viewing deck for the best views of the city and the Harbour.

It also features a comfortable bar lounge where you can enjoy a selection of drinks. And if you want to have guaranteed window seating, you can include that in your booking.

Check Price

Captain Cook A La Carte Lunch Cruise
Operator: Captain Cook Cruises
Time of day: Afternoon
Duration: 3 hours
Inclusions: Lunch

4. Tall Ship Afternoon Harbour Cruise

Tall Ship Harbour Cruise

If you’re looking for a unique Harbour cruise experience where you may even be able to help steer the vessel, this tall ship afternoon Harbour cruise might be a great choice.

You will indeed be sailing on an authentic 1850s-style timber tall ship for 90 minutes, cruising past all the major highlights of Sydney Harbour.

The best part is that you have the opportunity to help with the sails, steering, heaving on a rope, or otherwise just sit back and relax.

This interactive cruise is a fantastic experience where you will not only get to take in the best views of the Harbour, but you will also learn a thing or two about Sydney’s rich history.

Check Price

Tall Ship Afternoon Harbour Cruise
Operator: Sydney Harbour Tall Ships
Time of day: Afternoon
Duration: 1.5 hours
Inclusions: Opportunity to help with sailing the boat

5. Captain Cook Sydney Harbour Dinner Cruise

Captain Cook Cruises

Concluding this list of best Sydney Harbour cruises is a casual dinner cruise experience offered by Captain Cook Cruises, where guests can choose between a 3- or 4-course dinner, or a 6-course tasting menu.

This 2-hour night cruise also includes live music and even a modest dance floor, making it a great night out on the Harbour, with a summer sunset as a welcome bonus. The 4-course and 6-course dinner experiences start at a later time, with the 6-course dinner experience lasting an extra hour.

What we like about this night cruise is that it’s very affordable compared to some other offerings, while still enjoying a quality experience taking in the best Sydney Harbour views.

For a basic yet quality dinner cruise experience, choose the 3-course option, which starts at 5 pm and lasts for two hours. It’s excellent value for money.

Check Price

Captain Cook Sydney Harbour Dinner Cruise
Operator: Captain Cook Cruises
Time of day: Evening
Duration: 2 or 3 hours
Inclusions: Dinner, live music

Harbour Cruise vs Sydney Ferry

A more affordable way to explore the natural beauty of Sydney Harbour is by using the public Sydney Ferries and doing one or more of the many scenic Sydney Harbour ferry trips.

The most popular ferry ride is the half-hour Manly ferry trip between Circular Quay and Manly Cove, which crosses the Harbour on the eastern side of the Harbour Bridge. It’s a truly wonderful experience, for tourists as well as for locals.

Travelling by ferry is, of course, much cheaper than booking a cruise, and you can use your Opal Card to hop on as many ferries as you wish.

On the weekends (and Fridays), you even get to enjoy a very affordable daily travel cap, which can turn ferry hopping on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday into a fun day out on the Sydney Harbour.

Benefits of Doing a Cruise

However, there are some advantages of going on a Harbour Cruise compared to using a ferry. Especially for tourists, a good quality cruise can quickly become one of the highlights of their holiday.

Here are some benefits of booking a Sydney Harbour Cruise:

  • A cruise travels at a slower pace, so you have more time to enjoy the scenery and take good photos.
  • A cruise takes in all the popular Sydney sights and tourist attractions in one trip.
  • You can choose to have a nice meal or a cold drink while on the boat.
  • You have the option to go on a big vessel, a smaller boat, or even a classic tall ship.
  • There are often extras included and options to choose from, such as live music and a bar.
  • Depending on the vessel, there is typically lots of space to wander around and enjoy the scenery from different angles.

Not all of the above benefits apply to all Sydney Harbour cruises, but most do. Choosing the perfect Harbour cruise will ultimately depend on your expectations and budget.

 

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