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12 Things to Know BEFORE Booking a Sydney Dinner Cruise

12 Things to Know BEFORE Booking a Sydney Dinner Cruise

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Sydney is a stunning city full of history and unique culture, and it’s truly an icon in Australia! Known as the Harbour City, the Sydney Harbour is as iconic as the Sydney itself. It’s home to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which creates some of the most incredible views of the skyline from the water. 

So, what better way to enjoy the Sydney Harbour than going on a dinner cruise? The Sydney dinner cruise we did was by far my favorite activity in Sydney! We enjoyed the incredible views alongside a fine dining experience (the food was marvelous!), as well as an open bar. It was the perfect evening out in Sydney.

I recommend a Sydney dinner cruise to anyone who has the pleasure of visiting this marvelous city. There are a few options when it comes to dinner cruises in Sydney, so I have created this guide comparing them all. I also have some important tips on things you should know before booking, just so that you are completely prepared! Let’s dig in!

Don’t have time to read the full article? We loved our recent dinner cruise in Sydney and think that you will too. You can book the cruise we did here!

1. Why book a Sydney dinner cruise?

The Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House in Sydney as seen from a harbour cruise
What a view!

We love going on dinner cruises whenever we can, they are always such a luxurious experience and it feels like we are spoiling ourselves a bit. There is something so special about fine dining, a glass of bubbly in hand, and a gorgeous skyline! Sightseeing and food in one experience? Sign me up!

Plus, the boats are rather fancy, so even if it’s raining or the sun has already set, the whole vibe is still there! 

The other great thing about dinner cruises in Sydney specifically is that there are a few options to choose from. If an open bar is important to you (I’m looking at you, Daniel), then there is a cruise for that! Live music more your style? There is a cruise for that too! What about an all-you-can-eat buffet, sunset cruise, or wine pairings? Yup, you get the drift.

The Sydney dinner cruise we did was honestly the highlight of our most recent trip to Sydney, and it’s one of the most enjoyable dinner cruises we’ve ever done (and we’ve taken a lot!). We got up so close to the Sydney Harbour Bridge as well as the Opera House and the views were just spectacular. There’s really no other way to put it, but Sydney Harbour is iconic, so cruising around it on a luxury boat is really a bucket-list experience.

So, if you need a reason to put on your fanciest outfits and have a night out on the water– a Sydney dinner cruise is the best way to do it! 

2. Where do Sydney dinner cruises go?

The boat for the Journey Beyond Cruise Sydney tour, Australia
The boat for the Journey Beyond Cruise Sydney – so nice!

Most dinner cruises in Sydney will depart from the King Street Wharf in Darling Harbour, and some also offer hotel pickup. These cruises follow a specific route around Sydney Harbour so you get killer views the whole time!

The route may vary depending on which cruise you select, but most will follow the same general flow and stay within the bounds of the harbour. You’ll sail under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, right beside the Sydney Opera House, and can see other historic sights along the way! 

These cruises will last for a couple of hours, so they keep a slow pace so you can truly settle into the beauty of Sydney’s landmarks and skyline! On our cruise, the boat did a couple of turns so that no matter where on the boat you were, you could catch all the best views!

Related Read: Traveling more in Australia? Check out the best things to do in Perth!

3. What will you see on a Sydney dinner cruise?

Daniel poses for a photo on a dinner cruise with the Sydney Harbour Bridge
I loved the cruise!

Sydney Harbour Bridge 

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is a staple of the Sydney cityscape. Built in 1932, it has that historic feel, and you can just imagine how many millions of people have passed over and under it.

Taking a stroll across the bridge is one of those must-do free activities in Sydney, but I would also say passing under it is just as necessary! Luckily, Sydney dinner cruises sail right under the bridge, which gives a perfectly framed harbour view that is like none other!

Sydney Opera House 

As the most distinguishable sight of Australia, catching a glimpse of the Sydney Opera House is on nearly every traveler’s bucket list. All of the Sydney dinner cruises take a slow drive past the Opera House and get much closer than I expected! It’s one thing to see it on land, but it’s 10x more beautiful seeing it from the water!

Sydney Skyline 

I don’t feel like you can fully experience a city without getting an epic view of its skyline! From a cruise, is probably the prettiest view of the Sydney Skyline I’ve ever seen, as you can get out far enough to see the glimmering lights reflecting on the water after the sun sets.

The skyline is nearly as iconic as the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge themselves, so all three paired together make for simply gorgeous views. 

Sunset on Sydney Harbour 

Not all cruises catch the sunset during certain times of the year. If this is important to your cruise experience, be sure to check the time of sunset when booking the time of your cruise. We will outline this in more detail below! 

4. How long do Sydney dinner cruises last?

Dinner cruises in Sydney will last either 2, 3, or 4 hours depending on which type of cruise you pick. Ones that offer a performance, DJ, or live music might last a little longer or they might cruise at a slower pace. Luckily, you have options so you can select the best length of time compared to what is offered on each tour, and find the best fit for you!

5. What are the best Sydney dinner cruises?

Journey Beyond Cruise Sydney Harbour

Bailey poses for a photo with the Sydney harbour Bridge during a dinner cruise in Sydney, Australia
It’s just as stunning at night!
Bailey sits down with her started on the Journey Beyond Cruise Dinner in Sydney Harbour
The food is amazing!

We had to start off this list with the Journey Beyond Cruise in Sydney that we did recently and simply loved! This 3-hour Sydney Harbour tour has everything you want in a Sydney dinner cruise– a luxury catamaran boat, a 3-course gourmet dinner, an open bar, and the best views!

We love that this cruise is all-inclusive, as not all are. So, you can really show up and enjoy the evening without having to worry about anything. Let’s just say the wine was flowing when we did it!

This tour departs at 6:25 pm, so depending on the time of year you visit, you can catch the sunset as you cruise! The views are amazing regardless, and this cruise is on a 24-meter (78-foot) catamaran with an open top deck, giving 360 views of the Sydney Harbour.

I appreciate that the tours give time to enjoy the boat, grab a drink, and take in the views before dinner is even served. This time is simply fun to gawk at the landscape and enjoy the experience!

As the sun sets and the city begins to light up, it’s time for dinner! The chefs prepare a 3-course meal with fresh New South Wales ingredients, so it changes based on seasonal availability. You can choose between two or three dishes for each course and there are vegetarian options, too.

The starters were based around poached chicken and wagyu bresaola, and the main course features slow-cooked Junee lamb shank. Not only was the food delicious, but the presentation was unmatched! To top it all off, the menu is paired with South Wales wine, or you have your choice of other alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages as well.

After you’re full from that delicious meal, make a little more room for dessert! You can’t go wrong with lemon meringue tarte or the chocolate mousse – both were delicious!

The cruise will wrap up by passing the Taronga Zoo and head back to Darling Harbour by 9:30 pm. What an evening of beautiful sights, delicious food, and good vibes all around!

Be sure to reserve this experience in advance, as it is one of the best dinner cruises in Sydney and we can personally attest to that! It costs $198 AUD per adult, which is pretty good considering how much food and drinks you get! You can reserve your spot online here

Related Read: The same company also operates one of the best lunch cruises in Sydney – read all about it!

Sydney Harbour Gold Penfolds Dinner Cruise 

Main meal of ravioli served on the Journey Beyond Cruise Sydney dinner cruise
The food is amazing!

This is the ideal cruise if you’re a foodie or lover of wine. The Sydney Harbour Gold Penfolds Dinner Cruise pairs each course with one of Penfolds wines, which are some of the best wines in Australia! It offers a 6-course meal, live music, and unlimited drinks.

They strive for a five-star experience every time they set sail– and they certainly don’t miss the mark. 

Upon stepping on board, the waitstaff will take your drink order, whether you want to start on the wine train or order a beer, cocktail, or non-alcoholic beverage. This is a three-story cruise-style boat with a large open upper deck, ideal for views of the Sydney Harbour.

What I love about this tour is that each course is paired with a different wine. This makes the flavors of both the food and wine pop in ways you’ve never experienced, and it really takes the culinary experience to the next level. 

And while you’re enjoying your six courses (and six glasses of wine!) there is a lounge singer and pianist playing to set the ambiance. You’ll enjoy views of Sydney Opera House, Fort Denison, and Sydney Harbour Bridge from your table for a totally relaxing dinner cruise!

This 3-hour cruise departs at 7 pm from King Street Wharf in Darling Harbour. It is $269 AUD per person, which is a little more than the other cruises, but this is likely the most luxurious dinner cruise experience in all of Sydney. 

You can reserve this incredible Sydney dinner cruise online here!

Latino Dinner Cruise on Sydney Harbour

The Sydney Harbour Bridge lit up at night during a Dinner cruise
How beautiful is it at night!

If you’re looking to turn up the heat and have a lively dinner cruise on Sydney Harbour, check out this Latino Dinner Cruise. This is definitely more of a fun and relaxed atmosphere, while the previous cruises mentioned in this blog have more of a fancy and sophisticated feel.

You will still get to be in awe of the classic Sydney sights, but you will also get to enjoy some exciting onboard entertainment!

This 4-hour dinner cruise begins at King Street Wharf on Darling Harbour where you’ll hop aboard this smaller vessel. This tour only accommodates 15 travelers, so it’s definitely a different feel than the large boats that can hold up to 100 people! 

I’ll also note that the meal is not the star of the show on this cruise, the entertainment is! With that said, the food still has rave reviews and you’ll have a delicious buffet with a huge spread, almost more options than a 6-course meal! There is a bar with drinks available to purchase, but they are not included in the tour price. Once you fill up your plate and grab a drink, you can settle in for the show!

They have a live Brazilian dance performance with elaborate costumes and lively music. There is an onboard DJ all night, so the spirits are always high. This show has an opportunity for audience participation, so if you’re feeling brave, you can join in (some liquid courage will help!). 

This Sydney dinner cruise is sure to be a memorable experience! You can reserve your spot in advance for $105 AUD online here!

Sydney Harbour Dinner Cruise 

Views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from a dinner cruise in Sydney Harbour
I can’t get over how beautiful Sydney is!

Here we have another Sydney Harbour Dinner Cruise that boasts its culinary expertise! On this dinner cruise, you’ll sail through the harbour, taking in the sights of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, while indulging in a 4-course meal and enjoying live music. 

Prepare your taste buds for an exquisite lineup. You’ll start with smoked salmon with herb salad, pumpkin, ricotta & goat cheese ravioli, and a pear and garden salad. The mains get even better with gremolata rubbed barramundi, Black Angus Riverina beef sirloin, twice-cooked crispy skin chicken, and Middle Eastern eggplant. But, perhaps the best part is the lemon and lime tart, Malibu and coconut Slice, and the chocolate raspberry coconut pebble for dessert! 

Alcoholic beverages aren’t included in this tour price, but your server can give some recommendations to pair with this amazing menu. It’s also important to note that this is one of the shortest dinner cruises in Sydney at 2-hour long, but this could be perfect for you if you’re short on time.

After you’re satiated from that impressive spread, you can head to the upper deck to see the city lights and starry sky over the harbour. This relaxing cruise is a great balance of enjoying the dining experience and having time to explore the boat and views throughout your 2 hours.

This particular dinner cruise costs $139 AUD per person, or you can secure a table by the window for $154 AUD per person.

You can reserve your spot ahead of time here!

Sydney Harbour Tall Ship Twilight Dinner Cruise 

A boat cruises under towards the Syndey Harbour bridge at night during a dinner cruise
Cruising towards the Sydney Harbour Bridge!
Cheers with Champagne on a Sydney harbour dinner cruise
Champagne anyone?

There is a ton of history within the Sydney Harbour, so taking a dinner cruise on a historic ship is such a unique experience! On this historic twilight cruise, the crew will provide commentary on Australia’s maritime history while you have dinner and unlimited drinks, all while the city is beginning to light up for the night. It’s a historically beautiful dinner cruise in Sydney that you don’t want to miss.

You will be cruising on a tall ship, one of two that sail in the harbour’s waters. These ships have been sailing goods from Europe since the 1700s, which is when Sydney was first established as a British colony.

This cruise is special because you get a deeper insight as you sail around the historic sights, like the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, Fort Denison, Garden Island, Taronga Zoo, Luna Park, and Admiralty House. Most cruises will take you by these locations, but this one will get in-depth about their roots!

You can expect a light dinner and drinks on this cruise, not the full-blown gourmet meal as the others. This is the perfect dinner cruise for those who enjoy learning about the history of the city they are exploring while enjoying some of the most epic sights along the way!

This 2-hour cruise is $139 AUD and can be reserved online in advance here!

6. What is the absolute BEST Sydney Harbour dinner cruise? 

Bailey admires the Sydney opera House during a dinner cruise in Sydney Harbour
It’s a work of art!
A glass of wine on a dinner cruise with views in the background of Sydney harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House
Cheers!

This 3-hour Journey Beyond Cruise Sydney Harbour is our top pick for a Sydney dinner cruise. Overall, we think the price is the most affordable for a luxury cruise without breaking the bank. We also think that it’s long enough to enjoy your dinner and see the views, but not let it drag on, and the food is astounding!

This cruise costs $198 AUD and includes an open bar, a gourmet 3-course dinner, and the boat is quite exquisite with its large open deck giving the best views of Sydney Harbour. 

We did this exact cruise recently and loved every second of it! We can personally recommend it to you!

If you think about it, you’ll probably end up spending close to the same amount on a fancy dinner with unlimited drinks on land anyway, and this one has stunning views of the Sydney Harbour and a luxury boat too, so it’s worth the price! You can book our favorite Sydney dinner cruise online here

Related Read: We also loved our experience on the Spirit of Melbourne dinner cruise!

7. Do all Sydney dinner cruises see the sunset? 

Sunset in Sydney over a cruise ship
Not all cruises see the sunset during certain times of the year!

No, not all Sydney dinner cruises see the sunset. Most of the cruises have a set departure time year-round, so as the days get longer or shorter and the time of sunset changes, the time of the tours does not.

For example, if your cruise leaves at 5:30 pm, then during the winter, late fall, or early spring the sun will already be down and you’ll miss it altogether. If you take that same tour in the summer, you will still miss the sunset because the tour will be back by 7:30 pm and sunset isn’t until 8:00 pm.

It’s not a completely lost cause though. Cruises can vary in departure times and you can check the time of the sunsets and coordinate it with the tour you choose if it is important to you!

8. What should you wear on a Sydney dinner cruise?  

The dinning area on a dinner cruise in Sydney Harbour, Australia
The dining area on a dinner cruise in Sydney Harbour, Australia

If you have been traveling for months with that ONE fancy outfit and have never had a chance to wear it, it’s time to unpack it and iron out the wrinkles! Formal clothing is encouraged, and it’s fun to dress for the occasion, as the boats feel rather swanky.

The dress code can vary depending on which tour you choose (some have a more formal feel than others), so pick the tour that will be the most fun for you, and the outfit will come together. 

We were rather short on clothes when we took our Sydney dinner cruise, as we were only traveling with a carry-on, so we just wore what we had and it was perfectly fine!

9. Are Sydney dinner cruises suitable for children?

The Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House lit up at night from a dinner cruise in sydney, Australia

Kids are allowed on Sydney dinner druises, but I don’t know how much kids would enjoy them if I’m being totally honest. It is definitely marketed to an adult crowd, especially those with an open bar and a more sophisticated feel.

However, most of the dinner cruises offer discounted prices for children, and kids under 3 are free. There are also high chairs available if you need them! 

If you are planning on booking a dinner cruise with kids, I think that your best choice would be this cruise on a historic ship! Not only is the boat very impressive and fun to explore, but they let you hoist the sail and you can learn a lot along the way. This tour is less formal and allows people to move around the ship more freely than other tours out there. 

10. Are there vegetarian options available on Sydney dinner cruises?

Yes, all of the dinner cruises that we mentioned above offer vegetarian options! Most tours can accommodate other dietary restrictions as well, just be sure to notify the tour when booking. These tours are well known for their culinary excellence, so they are sure to accommodate your needs to the best of their abilities, and I’m sure you’ll be impressed by what they come up with!

Related Read: There are many other types of Harbour cruises in Sydney that don’t include meals – read about them all!

11. Are the Sydney dinner cruises wheelchair accessible?

Bailey does a cheers with champange on a dinner cruise in Sydney Harbour, Australia
Cheers!

All of the tours on this list are wheelchair accessible, except for the Latino Dinner Cruise. This one is on a much smaller boat, so there simply isn’t room to navigate a wheelchair. The other tours are wheelchair accessible on the main deck, including the restroom and dining tables. However, if there are multiple stories on the boat, wheelchair access is restricted to the main deck.  

Booking through Viator makes it simple, as you can message the tour operator when booking to ask questions or make note of special requirements for your party and they will do their best to accommodate your needs. 

12. Is a Sydney dinner cruise worth it?

Bailey stands at the front of the boat with views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on a dinner cruise
Soaking up the moment!
A glass of wine is poured on a cruise in Sydney Harbour
Keep pouring!

Absolutely yes! The Sydney dinner cruise that we did recently was the highlight of our time in the city. It was such a unique way to see Sydney’s iconic landmarks, like the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Fort Denison, Luna Park, and more. Who could ask for a better evening on the beautiful water plus a gourmet meal on a luxury boat? It was one of the best ways to experience Sydney, hands down!

You can check out all of the different dinner cruises available in Sydney online here!

Other Things to do While You’re in Sydney

Flying above the Sydney Opera House in Sydney Harbour, Australia
View from a helicopter!
Daniel and Bailey take a selfie inside the concert hall at the Sydney Opera House on a tour
Inside the Opera House!

Sydney is a city full of exciting things to do and see, so you’re going to want to fill your schedule while visiting this iconic city. Below are a few of our favorite activities that you should consider adding to your Sydney itinerary:

  • Helicopter Ride – Sydney is a beautiful city; there is just no doubt about it! But it’s even more stunning from the sky on a helicopter ride! We did this helicopter ride the last time we were in the city and it was incredible! We got the most amazing views of the bridge and Opera house, not to mention the beautiful coastline. And to top it off, we even saw whales!
  • Visit Manly Beach and/or Bondi Beach – There are some pretty amazing beaches right in Sydney, so you should definitely plan for a beach day (or three!). Manly Beach is one of our favorites and you can easily get there via the public ferry. Or, head to the famous Bondi Beach! Once there you can do the walk to Bronte or Coogee Beaches – they are both also stunning!
  • Tour the Sydney Opera House – Did you even visit Sydney if you didn’t go to the Opera House?! You can walk around for free, but if you want to see the inside, then you’ll have to join a guided tour of the Sydney Opera House or buy tickets to a show. We did this guided tour and found it super interesting! They took us to all of the different theatres and we learned all about the history of the building – all for only $42 AUD!
  • Day Trip to the Blue Mountains The Blue Mountains is a beautiful wilderness area where you can enjoy hiking, waterfalls, mountain views, and charming local towns. It’s about an hour’s drive and makes for a great day trip from Sydney or even a weekend getaway. This Blue Mountains day full-day tour would be our top choice as it includes a gourmet lunch, Scenic World, the wildlife park, as well as a cruise! Plus the 3,400 5-star reviews are pretty reassuring that it’s an excellent tour!
  • Explore Darling Harbour – One of our favorite areas in Sydney is Darling Harbour. This trendy harbour features more restaurants, bars, and cafes than I can count! Plus, almost everything is waterfront! Here you can also enjoy the Chinese Garden of Friendship, walk across the Pyrmont Bridge, or visit other popular attractions like Madame Tussauds,the SeaLife aquarium, and Wildlife Sydney Zoo.

Where to Stay in Sydney

Get the best views of Sydney at Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, Australia
Photo credit: Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

With so many things to do in and around Sydney, you’re going to need a place to stay. Luckily Sydney has a huge variety of accommodations to fit every budget. If you’re overwhelmed with where to start, check out our top picks for places to stay from luxury rooms to budget-friendly hostels. We’ve got you covered!

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney – $$$

For stunning views of Sydney Harbour and the iconic Opera House, book a room at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney. You’ll have unobstructed views of the city from the comfort of your room. The hotel is located in the city center within the historic Rocks neighborhood – nice and close to lots of activities and restaurants.

Rooms here start at $400-$500 AUD per night and can be reserved with Booking.com.

Meriton Suites Kent Street Sydney – $$

Stay right in the heart of Sydney in a modern luxury apartment at Meriton Suites Kent Street. The suites are air-conditioned and have laundry facilities and either a kitchenette or full kitchen to make longer stays more comfortable. You’ll also have access to an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, and hot tub.

These full apartments are $230 AUD nightly when booked in advance with Booking.com.

Sydney Harbour YHA – $

For a hostel with a view, head to the rooftop terrace at the Sydney Harbour YHA. Located in the historic Rocks district, you’ll have amazing views of the harbor and be within walking distance of all the major sights. You can opt for a shared dorm room or a private room here. There’s a communal kitchen, TV lounge, billiards, and a 24/7 reception desk.

Dorm rooms are around $70 AUD nightly and private rooms are more around the $180 AUD mark. You can check for the best rates and book on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.com.

Thanks for reading!

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie while on a dinner cruise in Sydney Harbour Australia
Thanks for reading!

Honestly, a dinner cruise in Sydney is such a fun night out! You really can’t go wrong when you combine a fun sightseeing tour in Sydney with incredible food and drinks! I’m sure it’ll be one of your most memorable tours in Sydney!

If you enjoyed this blog, check out some of our other related blogs below:

12 BEST Tours in Sydney, Australia – To Get the Most of Your Visit!

31 FREE and Cheap Things to do in Sydney

35 BEST Things to do in Darwin