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Spirit of Melbourne Dinner Cruise Review – Is it Worth it?

Spirit of Melbourne Dinner Cruise Review – Is it Worth it?

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Everyone loves a meal with a view, and in Melbourne, it doesn’t get much better than dinner on the Spirit of Melbourne cruise! There’s a four-course meal while gliding down the Yarra River, admiring the beautiful city skyline. As far as ways to spend an evening in Melbourne, this ranks pretty highly in our books!

In our experience, not all dinner cruises are created equal. We’ve done some fantastic ones and some not-so-great ones while traveling, so we were eager to see how the Spirit of Melbourne measured up. 

If you haven’t got time to read the entire article, we’ll just say this: we loved it! But if you keep on reading, we’ve written our honest review of this popular dinner cruise. 

What is the Spirit of Melbourne Dinner Cruise?

Dinner on the spirit of melbourne dinner cruise with steak and shrimp
Everything was delicious!
Bailey cheers her wine on the spirit of melbourne dinner druise
Cheers!

The Spirit of Melbourne dinner cruise combines nighttime sightseeing with a gourmet meal. We got to float down the Yarra River as we enjoyed our meal, passing by well-known sites like Federation Square, Rod Laver Arena, and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

There’s free-flow alcohol on board, but make no mistake: this is not a tacky dinner cruise. It’s actually a very elegant experience, so it’s like dining at a fancy restaurant, only out on the water. 

The cruise is for over 18s only, and it costs $185 AUD per person. It departs at 7:30 pm, so you can catch the sunset on board during the summer months. You also get free cancellation up to 4 days in advance when you book through Viator like we did.

How long is the Spirit of Melbourne Dinner Cruise?

Melbourne at night and the spirit of melbourne cruise in one photo
Melbourne at night is beautiful!

The cruise lasts for 3 hours, which we found to be plenty of time to take in the sights of Melbourne from the river. Check-in opens 15 minutes before departure, so get to the Southbank Promenade at 7:15 pm. 

This was an easy addition to our things to do in Melbourne at night list, in fact, it made our #1 slot!

What is included in the Spirit of Melbourne Dinner Cruise?

Bailey and Daniel cheers their wine on the spirit of melbourne dinner cruise with tthe city in the background
We love bubbles!
An appetizer of cheese and crackers on the spirit of melbourne dinner cruise
Cheese and crackers? Yes, please!

Lots! We actually found it to be a really generous dinner cruise. 

You get a 4-course gourmet meal, which we’ll talk more about below. Better still, there’s free booze on board! We got to choose between beer, wine, and premium spirits – they don’t skimp out on the Spirit of Melbourne, let me tell you. And if you don’t want to drink alcohol, there are also free soft drinks available. 

There’s no tipping culture in Australia, and the dinner cruise truly is all-inclusive. There are no extra costs on the day, so once you book, what you pay is the final price. 

The seating on the boat is assigned, so there’s no tier pricing for tables. However, something we did (and encourage you to do too!) is trying to get the best seats by messaging the tour company through Viator after booking and asking for a table by the windows. It doesn’t hurt to ask and it paid off for us!

We were so impressed with how inclusive and memorable this tour was that we even added it to our 1-day Melbourne itinerary! Even with just one day, it’s not to be missed.

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

Related Read: If you’re considering other tours, read our honest review of Go West Tours Melbourne and our favorite tours they offer!

What is the food like on the Spirit of Melbourne Dinner Cruise? 

Steak dinners next to eachother on the spirit of melbourne cruise
The main course

There’s a 4-course meal on board, which consists of a starter, main, dessert, and a cheeseboard. You select a main course at the time of booking, and then you get to choose from a few options for your starter and dessert before the cruise as well. Options for the main include stuffed baby pumpkin, baked barramundi filet, and a chargrilled beef eye filet. We went for the latter, and it was delicious enough to give Melbourne’s top steakhouses a run for their money!

In fact, the food in general was comparable to a fine dining restaurant in Melbourne. We ordered a tasting platter for our starter, so we got to experience lots of different flavors. The only thing that we didn’t like was our dessert. It was too sweet for our taste (and Bailey has a very sweet tooth!), but we still enjoyed the meal overall. The cheeseboard came at the end of the cruise after we’d had a little time to let the meal digest, which was a really nice touch. 

What are the views like on the Spirit of Melbourne Dinner Cruise? 

Bailey looks out over the water during sunset during the spirit of melbourne dinner cruise
Sunset on the river!

The views are incredible! Many of Melbourne’s must-see places are dotted along the Yarra River, so we felt like we got to see a lot. It’s a really peaceful way to do some sightseeing, and we think it’s also ideal if you don’t have a lot of time in the city. 

From mid-October until late March, the cruise sets off before sunset, so you get to watch a beautiful sunset from the river. Then, on the way back, you see the city lit up after dark, which is just as magical! 

What did I like about the Spirit of Melbourne Dinner Cruise?

Melbourne from the deck of the spirit of melbourne dinner cruise
Sunset makes everything so beautiful.

Views

The views from the cruise were just amazing. It’s a fantastic way to see the city at night, and we got to see a lot of the city’s most important and historic sights from the boat. There are big windows on board so you really can take it all in, especially if you get a window table! (Remember my tip to request a window table when you book!).

Service

The service on board was fantastic. The staff were very attentive, and they never let our glasses run dry! It was the same kind of service you would expect in an upscale restaurant. 

Melbourne and a bridge at night on the spirit of melbourne cruise
Melbourne all lit up!

Atmosphere

The crew was super welcoming, and there was a calm, refined atmosphere on board the boat. The delicious food and fantastic views had everyone in a good mood, and the bottomless drinks didn’t hurt, either!

Treatment by staff

Honestly, we can’t say enough good things about how nice the staff were. They’re very on the ball and accommodating. They didn’t rush us through the meal, and they kept the drinks coming. 

Food

The food was so good on board the Spirit of Melbourne! We were very impressed with our steak, and next time we do this I’ll definitely be trying the barramundi because it looked delicious. The cheeseboard was great, too. 

Related Read: Another experience we loved from Melbourne was taking a tour to Phillip Island to watch the adorable Penguin Parade!

What didn’t I like about the Spirit of Melbourne Dinner Cruise?

Desert on the spirit of melbourne dinner cruise
The dessert was a little too sweet
wine glass on the spirit of melbourne dinner cruise with a bridge in the background
Everything else was amazing!

Unfortunately, the dessert wasn’t very good. It was just far too sweet. Other than that, I’ve got no complaints because the rest of the meal more than made up for it! 

Is the Spirit of Melbourne Dinner Cruise worth it? 

Bailey on the spirit of melbourne cruise enjoying the skyline
Yes!

Yes, it’s 100% worth it. We loved it from start to finish. It even tops our list of the best tours in Melbourne. It’s a fantastic way to spend an evening and one of the best ways to enjoy the beautiful Yarra River.

Other Things to do in Melbourne

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie at the twelve apostles on a great ocean road tour australia
The Twelve Apostles in the background as we explore the Great Ocean Road!

If you have a little extra time in your itinerary, we have even more epic Melbourne activities. You can check out our full list of the best things to do in Melbourne or check out our top recommendations below!

  • Drive the Great Ocean Road – This 240-kilometer (150-mile) scenic drive follows the southern coastline and is one of the most epic things to do in Melbourne. We joined this guided tour so we could stop at the iconic areas, like the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, and Apollo Bay, while someone else did the driving so we could enjoy the views! This day trip from the city was our favorite Melbourne experience, it’s stunning and a great break from the bustling city life. 
  • Wander the Arcades – Melbourne is also home to tons of pretty arcades (covered walkways), and my favorites to explore are the Block Arcade and the Royal Arcade. You can see the most famous arcades and visit the best chocolate shops and dessert cafes (with plenty of samples!) on this Arcades Dessert Walking Tour. Our guide was amazing and my sweet tooth was so happy!
  • Explore the Melbourne Gardens – The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne are another great way to escape the city, without leaving city limits. This huge garden is home to over 8,500 species of plants and has been around for over 170 years. It’s simply gorgeous, and spending a few hours strolling through the gardens makes for a lovely afternoon. There are often special events going on, so check the website here before you go!
  • Explore St Kilda – This cute beach town is just 15 minutes from downtown Melbourne, and is a great place to grab a coffee and take in those ocean views! St Kilda is famous for its coffee scene, there are many to choose from – but our favorite is Galleon Cafe. If you’re visiting on the weekend, check out Esplanade Market for some unique souvenirs or Luna Park, super fun for families!
  • Day trip to Phillip Island – Phillip Island is another one of our favorite day trips from Melbourne because you can see the world’s largest Little Penguin Colony! Famous for their “Penguin Parade” taking a day trip here allows you to see hundreds of Little Penguins waddling back to their burrows. We took this organized tour, which also included stops at the Brighton Boxes and the Moonlit Sanctuary, where we got to hand-fed wallabies and koalas!

Where to Stay in Melbourne

The Langham Melbourne room
Photo credit: The Langham Melbourne

If you’re planning to visit Melbourne, let us help you find a great place to stay. There’s something to fit every budget, so check out our top picks from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. Here’s what you need to know!

The Langham Melbourne – $$$

For an elegant stay – think marble staircases, fountains, and chandeliers – The Langham Melbourne is the perfect place. The hotel is in the middle of Melbourne overlooking the Yarra River. You’ll get beautiful city views from the hotel’s restaurant and from the indoor pool. It’s also within walking distance of a number of top attractions.

Rooms here start at $300 – $400 AUD per night. Check availability and reserve a room here.

Grand Hotel Melbourne – $$

Stay in the Melbourne Central Business District at this historic hotel that has plenty of character. The studios and apartments at the Grand Hotel Melbourne give you more space than a typical hotel and even include a kitchen. You can also take advantage of the heated indoor pool and the fitness center with a sauna. Plus, it’s just a few minutes’ walk to Crown Casino, Southbank, Docklands, and more.

A studio starts at around $200 AUD per night and can be reserved through Booking.com here.

Space Hotel – $

You don’t have to sacrifice style for money at this hostel. The Space Hotel is a modern hostel with lots of extra guest amenities like a gym, a hot tub, and even a mini-theater. You can head to the rooftop terrace to relax and enjoy the views. The hostel is conveniently located in the Central Business District and is not far from the Queen Victoria Market and Chinatown.

Accommodation options include both private rooms and shared dorm rooms. A bed in a dorm starts at $55 AUD per night and private rooms begin at $100 AUD. Reserve a spot in advance with Booking.com or HostelWorld.com.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!

If you’re looking to save money on travel insurance, we currently use and recommend SafetyWing. We’ve been using their coverage since 2018 and they’ve had our backs when we needed emergency flights and got sick overseas.

SafetyWing is one of the cheapest providers out there and covers everything from medical costs to lost luggage, travel delays, and emergency flights. A huge difference we’ve found between them and other companies is that they let you take out a policy AFTER leaving your home country. We’ve also found it handy that it’s a monthly payment rather than a lump sum, and you can get a refund for unused time.

SafetyWing has helped us out in some scary situations before and their affordable coverage has given us peace of mind. You can read our honest review of SafetyWing for all the pros and cons.

Book your travel insurance with SafetyWing here!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey and daniel smile for a selfie on the deck of the spirit of melbourne dinner cruise
Thanks for reading!

If you’re looking for a fun way to do some sightseeing in Melbourne and also have a great meal, then the Spirit of Melbourne Dinner Cruise is perfect! We loved the fantastic views, and our food was so good – we would absolutely go again.

If this blog was helpful, be sure to check out more of our guides about Australia. You can get started with one of the related ones linked below.

Our One-Day Melbourne CBD Itinerary to See All the Sights!

Great Ocean Road Tours from Melbourne – the 5 BEST Tours for this Scenic Drive!

35 AMAZING Things to do in Darwin, Australia (that you shouldn’t miss!)

15 FUN Things to do in Manly Beach, Sydney (more than just swimming and beaching!)