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What's the Best Sydney Harbour Cruise for Kids?

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by Barry J (subscribe)
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Published February 5th 2017
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Ahoy Matey! Children can become Sydney Harbour pirates for a day with no risk of walking the plank... (by Attack of the Pirates)


Adults can easily escape hectic Sydney for a Christmas party, romantic getaway, fishing trip or sailing race. You might even spot a shipwreck. But what are the cruising choices for children?

As Sydney Harbour is the focal point of our city, celebrated annually with the NYE fireworks, it easily caters for children of all ages with seafaring selections ranging from the colonial to modern, hands-on to educational.

As giant cruise ships depart from Circular Quay and excite our imaginations, why not offer your children a special Sydney Harbour cruise as a birthday, weekend or school holiday treat?

For a nautically-themed lunch or dinner to celebrate, fresh seafood markets are nearby.

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Land Ho! But shouldn't Captain Cook be staring in disbelief at the Opera House to his right? (by Captain Cook Cruises)


These are some of Sydney Harbour's most exciting cruises for children:

Attack of the Pirates
Setting sail at 12pm from The Rocks, you'll join a 75-minute adventure on the high seas as one of our historic Tall Ships is captured by pirates.

Once free from the soldiers on dry land, the uncouth crew will entertain you, searching Sydney Harbour for treasure, battling with swords, cannons and stunts in a spectacular show bringing the scenes in Pirates of the Caribbean to life.

You can board the ship from 11.45 at Campbell's Cove, just north of the International Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay. Tickets cost $54 per person and $162 for a family (2 adults, 2 children). You can book at the website, by calling 02 8015 5571 or visiting the booth at Wharf 5, Circular Quay.


Captain Cook Cruises
Although Captain Cook isn't with us, his modern day impersonators have lived aboard the ships of Captain Cook Cruises since 1970. The sailors cater for all varieties of pleasure boating from dinner and high tea cruises to ferry rides and whale watching.

The sightseeing tour is perfect for children, delving into Sydney's history as our icons, including the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Royal Botanic Gardens, Garden Island, Taronga Zoo, Government House, and Fort Denison are explored alongside a custom commentary.

The Harbour Story tour departs at 10am and 2.15pm daily, costing $39 for adults and $22 for children. Enter the promo code "FAMILY" and you can receive one free child ticket for each paying adult. Visit the website to book the AM or PM tour, or call 1800 804 843 or visit them at Wharf 6, Circular Quay, Pier 26, Darling Harbour or King Street Wharf 1.


Oz Jet Boating
See Sydney with an adrenalin rush as you don a life jacket and strap yourself into a jet boat. Children taller than 1.2 metres can take a thrill ride almost as hectic as a teenage car ride as they fish tail, slide and power brake across the ocean, with their screams of delight echoing over Sydney Harbour.

During the 30-minute ride, you'll race from the Opera House to Shark Island and wake up the wealthy in their harbour-side mansions before pausing for selfies under the Harbour Bridge.

The Thrill Ride speeds hourly from 11am to 4pm, costing $79 for adults and $45 for children with a family pass costing $209. Book at Oz Jet Boating, call (02) 9808 3700 or visit them at the dock between Circular Quay and the Opera House.


Whale Watching
From May to December, majestic humpback whales swim along the east coast of Australia, in the largest whale migration in the world.

Aboard custom ships with panoramic viewing areas, you'll begin with a quick ocean viewing of Sydney's famous landmarks before heading into open waters to spend 2-3 hours admiring these giants of the sea they play, spray and splash, learning their secrets with commentary from experienced marine guides.

The 3-hour tour sails from Darling Harbour at 12.45pm weekdays and 9.15am and 12.45pm weekends, arriving 30 minutes later at Circular Quay for a second boarding. Tickets are $82.45 for adults, $51 for children, $73.95 for concession card holders (including the YHA card) and $211.65 for a family.

There are also 2 and 2.5-hour tours. If you're on the North Shore, you can catch their complimentary Manly Fast Ferry to join the tour. You can book online or call 02 9583 1199.


America's Cup Sail
The America's Cup, the most prestigious sailing competition in the world, began in 1851, almost 50 years before the first modern Olympic Games in Greece. America dominated the event for over a century before Australia snatched the trophy in 1983 in one of our proudest sporting achievements.

You can relive the sailing adventure, joining a racing crew aboard an America's Cup yacht, the Spirit or the Kookaburra. Modified for safety, you'll be at the mercy of the elements, powered by the wind in your sails as you sightsee and frantically work the grinders (no experience necessary).

The 2.5-hour adventure departs at 1pm every day except Wednesday with special twilight sailing at 5pm on Fridays. Adult tickets cost $129 or $99 for children aged 10-17. You can book an America's Cup Sail at the Explore Group website, by calling 1 300 670 008 or visiting the berth at Wharf 9, King St Wharf, Darling Harbour.

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I know a great whale joke...it's a real kriller (by Whale Watching Sydney)



Honourable mentions:

For a quick ride on the water, ferries depart regularly from Circular Quay to Manly or Parramatta.

If you prefer to paddle, you can jump in a kayak with OzPaddle, led by an experienced kayaker.

Walkers will love the Hermitage Track, visiting the best spots along the foreshore.


Which Sydney Harbour cruise did your children most enjoy? Please let us know with a comment.

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