Captain Cook Cruises is Sydney’s best whale watching cruise operator with a 95% success rate when it comes to whale sightings on Sydney harbour during whale watching season.
Our whale guarantee offer applies when a whale is not sighted during the cruise and in this case, guests can cruise again for free subject to availability.
Watching whales on Sydney harbour is a unique way to also see the city’s skyline and dramatic coastline. This is as much a sightseeing cruise and open water adventure as it is an opportunity to catch a glimpse of these gentle giant cetaceans during their natural migration north. And expect to see much more than just whales, with dolphins being famously spotted during the tours, as well as many seals and birds too.
Whale’s migrate past Sydney’s iconic heads on their way up to warmer tropical waters in Queensland. Our whale watching cruise will take guests into the open water and outside the heads where you may become affected by motion sickness. It’s recommended that you eat lightly and if you are prone to seasickness, tablets should be taken before you depart.
Humpback Whale sightings have continued to increase over the last decade. In June and July these majestic marine mammals migrate north for breeding before returning south with their calves from September to November. Southern Right Whales do not migrate, instead moving along the coast finding protected shelters for their young. Occasionally a mother and calf make Sydney Harbour their home for a short while and thousands of locals come out to wish them well.
Spotters on the land help to direct our certified whale watching cruises and also assist whale researchers by recording sightings and ensuring approach distances are strictly adhered to. Very rarely a whale is not spotted during the cruise. In this case your Whale Guarantee entitles you to another free cruise during the same season on a standby basis.
In addition to Humpbacks and Southern Right Whales, other species you may see include:
- Minke Whale
- Blue Whale
- Sei Whale
- Fin Whale
- False Killer Whale
- Orca or Killer Whale
- Sperm Whale
- Pygmy Right Whale
- Pygmy Sperm Whale
- Bryde’s Whale
Whales are highly social and intelligent mammals that have graced our oceans for our fifty million years. They breath air, give birth to live young and suckle their calves through mammary glands. Their streamlined bodies are insulated from the cold by thick layers of blubber. The largest species of whales were hunted almost to extinction and have survived only thanks to conservation and protection efforts. There are 86 recognised whale species. The largest animal on earth is the gigantic blue whale.
Whales can travel immense distances to meet their food, mating and calving needs. Many make annual migrations from cold to warm climates for calving.
The Whales close cousin, the dolphin is second only to humans in intelligence. The degree of intelligence of whales and porpoises is still to be determined however, their sophisticated behaviour and ability to learn suggest they have a capacity for complex thinking.
To the delight of passengers, whales and dolphins often approach the vessel. In these situations we are required to slow down gradually, stop and wait until the animal moves beyond the approach zone. Its the moments in between that make the cruise truly special.
Typical whale behaviour includes: Breaching, Spy Hop, Pectoral Fin Extension, Tail Slapping, Peduncle Slap, Tail Cocking, Tail Slash and Tail Swish, Pectoral Stroking and Pec Slapping all of which are explained on our About Whales - Whale Watching Guide.
What to bring
This is an open water cruise and you will experience sea motion. We recommend you eat lightly before and during the cruise. Travel sickness tablets are generally most effective if taken prior to the cruise. Please dress according to the weather - it will often feel colder at sea. Smoking is not permitted onboard.
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, on a standby basis. Bookings can be confirmed 24 hours prior, subject to availability.
How close can we get to whales?
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 close look of us! At all times, Captain Cook Cruises operates with the safety and enjoyment of both our passengers and the whales.
Is commentary included?
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.
Are there facilities for children?
All children must be escorted by adults. Children are welcome to cruise, however please keep in mind that you are on the 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.
Will I get seasick?
This is an open water cruise and you will experience sea motion. We recommend you eat lightly before and during the cruise. Travel sickness tablets are generally most effective if taken prior to the cruise. Please refer to our Predicted Comfort Levels & Weather web page for a 7-day forecast.
Are there bathrooms on board?
Yes, all vessels are fitted with toilets.
Check-in & Boarding
Boarding passes are to be collected 30 minutes prior to departure from the company’s ticket offices. To ensure speedy and efficient check-in, please ensure you have completed the Passenger Contact form prior to arrival as this is a legal requirement of all open water cruises in case of emergency - submit online or download the form here & return by email to [email protected] after you have made your booking.
Are seats assigned?
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.
Reconfirmation & Cancellation
As this is an open water cruise, names of all passengers and their individual contact details are required for each passenger. Cruises are subject to cancellation due to weather & other operational requirements. Please ring (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 afternoon 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 an agent, please refer to the agent’s terms &conditions.
This Week's Predicted Comfort Levels & Weather
Waves, swell, winds & visibility can be very different outside the Harbour.
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