Your questions answered

Below, you will find the answers to the questions we get asked most about our cruises on Sydney Harbour. If you can't find it here, our service teams are here and happy to assist.

General | Whale Watching

Frequently Asked Questions

Before You Book

Full payment is required at the time of booking. Special payment options are available for groups with a minimum of 10 passengers, you can view these options on our Groups page.

Please refer to our General Terms & Conditions for details, including conditions for special offers, discounted fares and special events.

Group discounts and special payment options can be applied to the best available fare on selected dining cruises. To view more information on our groups policy please visit our Groups page.

All meals are freshly prepared onboard our vessels. Due to the nature of cruising we have limited time to prepare and serve our menus.

All menus, excluding Gold & Platinum Dinner and Private Events cruises, have at least one vegetarian and gluten free menu option for seated & served menus. Degustation menus, such as the Gold & Platinum Dinners, are specialty menus and we regret no special diet variations are available beyond offering the vegetarian or gluten free options from our Starlight Dinner Menu. Requests made for special diets, substitutions and modifications of menus will be politely declined.

Private Event menus are selected and confirmed prior to cruising.

We cannot guarantee that certain products or ingredients (nuts, dairy, gluten, halal, etc) will be in our food, and we accept no liability in this regard.

Yes, most of our scheduled cruises are wheelchair accessible. View our Accessibility page for further details and wharf access.

All Dining and Harbour Bar & Restaurant cruises have reserved seating. All other cruises are open seating and guests are welcome to move freely between designated seating and open-air areas of your vessel.

Expansive windows throughout our vessels offer superb viewing no matter where you are seated on the vessel. Many guests prefer our raised centre tables or relaxed lounge bar seating, as they offer more expansive views. Only a finite number of window tables are available. Guaranteed window tables are available for an additional charge on Dining Experience Cruises. The surcharge applies to all guests at your table/s and pre-booking is essential.

Many of our passengers choose to celebrate special occasions aboard our vessels and your waiter can arrange a sparkler to accompany your special guest's dessert (a la carte dining only). Dining Experience guests are also welcome to bring along a celebration cake on the day for a small cakeage fee. Please contact Reservations should you wish to do so to arrange payment. Please note, due to safety restrictions on vessels, candles are not permitted.

Yes, any carer travelling with a holder of a companion card travels free of charge on Sightseeing Cruises and Ferry Services. We provide discounted travel for carers travelling on dining cruises and selected Special Event Cruises where a meal and/or beverage is included in the package. Companion Card holders also receive a discounted fare on all ticketed cruises. Please view our Accessibility page for further details.

Travelling with an assistance animal

Approved assistance animals are allowed on Ferry Services with Captain Cook Cruises Sydney Harbour as follows

  • Assistance animals trained to assist passengers with a disability
  • Assistance animals in training
  • Guide dogs and hearing dogs with accreditation
  • Police and security dogs

When you travel with an assistance animal you need to ensure that:

  • You are responsible for the conduct, care, feeding and toileting of your animal
  • The animal must be under the control of the registered handler at all times
  • Your guide or hearing dog wears a harness or medallion of registration

Travelling with pets

Pets are allowed on Ferry Services with Captain Cook Cruises Sydney Harbour with permission from crew prior to boarding.

When boarding public transport with a pet or other animal, please be aware that:

  • The animal must be restrained in a suitable box, basket, or other container at all times whilst onboard
  • The captain or crew may refuse to allow the animal if the service is reaching capacity
  • Animals should not travel in the enclosed ferry cabin areas, unless outdoor area is unavailable, and are not allowed on seats and must not obstruct passageways
  • Animals that are not clean, appear vicious or likely to annoy, threaten or inconvenience other customers will not be allowed
  • You should keep your animal away from other travelling animals to ensure the safety and comfort of other customers and pets

    All children under 18 years must be escorted by an adult that is 18 or over. Children are welcome to cruise, however please keep in mind that you are on a vessel for several hours and sometimes children do get restless. Infants under 4 years travel free of charge (excluding special event cruises), if you bring along a meal from home, otherwise full menu selection is available at reduced prices for children (refer to the child price applicable to your cruise). A children's menu is available on the Top Deck Lunch, Sunset Dinner and Starlight Dinner, offering a small selection of items. A separate kids menu is available on the Harbour Bar & Restaurant.

    There are a limited number of booster seats available for children 3 years and over and we recommend prams/strollers for infants. We do not carry highchairs due to safety stability concerns on a vessel.

    Before You Cruise

    Wharf Check-in Offices

    Please ensure you check which of these locations your cruise departs from, this information can be found on your booking documentation.

      Our Dining, Harbour Bar & Restaurant and Harbour Experience cruises offer a choice of departure times and locations. These need to be nominated at the time of booking. If you would like to change your boarding time or pick up location, please contact reservations to amend your booking. For all other cruises, please board at the location advised for your nominated cruise or ferry ticket.

      We provide contactless check-in wherever possible. If you have purchased your cruise directly through Captain Cook Cruises you will receive a confirmation email with Reservation Record and boarding passes included. If you have not paid for your cruise or if you have purchased your cruise through a travel agent or another third party, you will need to collect your boarding passes from our ticket offices located at the departure wharf. We ask all passengers to please arrive 15-30 minutes before departure as we cannot hold the vessel if you or your guests run late.

      We recommend smart casual, or smart & stylish for our Dining and Harbour Bar & Restaurant Cruises. No thongs, singlets or beachwear please.

      We operate in sheltered waters, regardless of the weather. All dining & bar seating is situated inside the vessel with expansive windows. All sightseeing and ferry vessels boast spacious inside decks. Whale Watching cruises operate subject to weather conditions due to open-water sailing conditions - please refer to this 7-day Wind & Wave Weather Forecast and Reconfirmation information on our Whale Watching cruise page.

      All dining and sightseeing cruise vessels, except for some of our smaller rocket ferries, are licensed premises with bar facilities. BYO alcohol is not permitted on licensed vessels. Some dining cruises include a selection of drinks, otherwise, drinks are purchased from your table. All bar accounts must be settled prior to disembarking. Wherever possible we operate a cashless bar. We regret we cannot provide separate bills for individuals within a group. Responsible Service of Alcohol Policy.

      All dining, sightseeing, and rocket vessels are fitted with toilets.

      Smoking is only permitted on the open top deck of Dining, Sightseeing & Charter vessels. Smoking is not permitted on Whale Watching, Hop On Hop Off or Ferry Services.

      Commentary is available on most Sightseeing Cruises. Check the inclusions on your chosen cruise for details.

      Whale Watching Frequently Asked Questions

      Humpbacks are the most commonly seen whales along the east coast. Occasionally we may also see Southern Right Whales, Minke Whales and Blue Whales. Plus, be on the look out for dolphins, seals, penguins and sea birds!

      There are strict guidelines on how close vessels of all kinds, from kayaks to cruise boats, can approach whales. It also depends if there are calves in the pod and the number of vessels in the area. As a guideline, the approach distance can range from 100m to 300m. This however does not stop whales from taking matters into their own hands for a closer look of us! At all times, Captain Cook Cruises operates with the safety and enjoyment of both our passengers and the whales.

      Layers! It will often feel colder at sea, so please ensure you dress according to the weather. And, don't forget to bring your camera as there will be plenty of photo ops on your cruise!

      Please ensure you complete the Passenger Contact form in advance (this is a legal requirement for open water cruises), to help ensure a smooth check-in and boarding process.

      This is an open water cruise and you will experience sea motion. We recommend you eat lightly before the cruise. Travel sickness tablets are generally most effective if taken prior to the cruise.

      View 7-day Wind & Wave Weather Forecast.

      We have a whale sighting success rate of over 95%. In the unlikely event a whale is not sighted during the cruise, passengers are welcome to cruise again for free, in the same season.

      Wharf Check-in Offices

        Cruises are subject to cancellation due to weather & other operational requirements. Please call (02) 8062 3623 from 7:15am on the day of your cruise for the latest information. If your cruise is cancelled by us passengers may (1) rebook another Captain Cook Whale Watching Cruise in the same season or (2) seek a refund from the original place of purchase or (3) a credit can be made with Captain Cook Cruises towards another cruise within 12 months of original date of travel. If purchased through and agent, please refer to the agent's terms and conditions.

        All Whale Watching Cruises include expert commentary from marine specialists with a passion for whales. We carry some of the most experienced commentators on Sydney Harbour.

        Yes, you are welcome to bring your own food and drinks onboard. We sell light snacks, soft drinks and water onboard.

        Yes, our sea-going Whale Watching vessels are wheelchair accessible. View our Accessibility page for further details.

        Yes, all vessels are fitted with wheelchair accessible bathrooms.

        Seating is not assigned for sightseeing cruises. All vessels feature spacious outdoor and indoor seating. The starboard side is usually closest to the shore and the port side closest to the harbour action.

        All children must be escorted by adults. Children are welcome to cruise, however please keep in mind that you are on a vessel for up to 3 hours and sometimes children do get restless. Infants under 4 years are free of charge but not recommended on open water cruises.

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