Whale Watching Afternoon


  • Afternoon Whale Watching Cruise operates daily
  • Morning cruise operates Sat-Sun
  • See Humpbacks & the occasional Southern Right whale during migration
  • Open water cruise through the entrance of Sydney Harbour aboard an ocean catamaran with open-air & all-weather lounge viewing
  • Whale Sighting Guaranteed or cruise again for FREE* (see more info for details)
  • 2hr 45min cruise with commentary

Need to know


Departs 20 May - 01 Nov 2017 Circular Quay Wharf No.6
Afternoon Cruise departs daily Depart 1.30pm, return approx. 4.15pm
Morning Cruise departs Sat-Sun Depart 10.15am, return approx. 1.00pm

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Afternoon cruises operate daily, while morning cruises depart on weekends only. 2016 proved to be an amazing year for whale watchers! Humpback sightings have continued to increase every year and these amazing mammals just love to show off with tail slapping, breaches, and even a close up wink when they are feeling extra curious. Don't miss this extraordinary opportunity to experience the gentle giants of the sea on their annual migration. Tickets on sale now. More Info ...

The whale species you are most likely to see along the New South Wales Coastline are

*Humpback Whale
*Southern Right Whale

Throughout June and July Humpback Whales head north for breading before return south with their calves from September to November.

Other whale 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.

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.

Selection of soft drinks and snacks available for purchase on board, subject to change.

Whale Guarantee
We have a 95%+ success rate. The Whale Guarantee applies when a whale is not sighted during your cruise. Cruise again in the same season for free on Standby Basis confirmed 24 hours prior, subject to availability.

This Week's Predicted Comfort Levels & Weather
Passenger comfort is our priority. Waves, swell, winds & visibility can be very different outside the Harbour. We only operate when we believe you will enjoy the experience.

Passengers must complete a Contact Information form prior to cruising in case of emergency - submit online or download the form here & return by email to [email protected] after you have made your booking.

Daily Whale Sightings

Whale Images

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. 

Special Conditions apply to all Special Offers

YOUR SAY NEW YEARS EVE - Had three trips with Captain Cook Cruises. The second one was the best - New Years Eve cruise and champagne dinner whilst watching the fireworks. Fantastic night. Pat

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73 % approval from 22 responses

19 hours ago

Service: Would by again. Flat ocean made it difficult for the whales to want to breach, but the commentary was good,

Did not hear if tea or coffee was available which would have been a nice touch.

thanks for the experience.

Product: Calm ocean, pleasant time. tea, Coffee or water would have been good.

1 day ago

its good

4 days ago

Service: The whole crew was so helpful, it was not just whale watching, but more informative about the characteristics of humpback whale, sperm whale and the cruise ride was a roller coaster! (The crew had indeed informed us well upfront about the rough tides in the ocean even before we had started and we wanted to experience those rough tides! :-))

Would strongly recommend!

Product: Value for money and worth every penny!

4 days ago

Service: Ich kann diese Fahrt nur bestens empfehlen.

Die Crew ist mega freundlich, hilfsbereit und bestens gelaunt.

Was mir am Besten gefallen hat war, dass der Captain länger auf See blieb als alle anderen, da wir erst sehr spät Wale entdecken. Er hat uns dankenswerterweise genug Zeit gelassen, diesen doch sehr seltenen Moment mit unseren Kameras und Smartphones festzuhalten.

Die Mannschaft ist super bemüht, kann aber gegen Seekrankheit kann auch sie nichts ausrichten.

Bitte lest euch Ratschläge durch, um zu vermeiden, dass ihr nur über einem Beutel hängt..... man ist immerhin auf einem Ozean....

Herzlichen Dank an die Crew


Product: Wie zuvor beschrieben war es ein unvergesslicher Moment....

4 days ago

Fun cruise and well organized

5 days ago

Service: the whole experience was first class

Product: very informotive and good value

5 days ago

Service: I took the time to fill in the Emergency Contact form online for my 2 bookings for 6 adults and 3 children, but on the day of collecting the boarding tickets from your booth, your staff said she could not find my completed online form and made me do a handwritten one on the spot. Why should that happen? I even received an email acknowledgement thanking me for filling in the online form - I just didn't think to print that out!

Product: Half of my passengers vomited, some of them a few times. Yes, we understand there's nothing anyone can do about the weather/tides but after the cruise we spoke with some other fellow passengers who were NOT sea sick during the cruise, and most admitted that the catamaran was too small for the open sea, and this was made worse by the waves. Well, while the waves are beyond anyone's control, at least with that forecast in mind, Captain Cook should have considered a bigger vessel. So busy vomiting and sitting very still in the open deck that most of us just couldn't even think about watching the whales (though from the commentator's speech we know he found a few).

Response from Captain Cook Cruises: Dear Cindy,

Thank you for your recent review of our Whale Watching PM Cruise on Sydney Harbour. We were very disappointed to read that we did not reach your expectations as we often receive good feedback on that cruise. Safety is our primary concern and we apologise that we were unable to locate your completed form and therefore you were requested to fill another one on check-in. All our whale watching vessels are licensed to operate in open-water and the vessel you were on has operated our whale cruises for a number of seasons and we do remind all our clients that these are open-water cruises and that sea sickness may happen and to take pre-cautions to prevent or minimise this possibility.

Once again, thank you for your feedback.

Kind regards,
Head of Customer Services
Captain Cook Cruises

1 week ago

Service: 开始看到了几条鲸鱼,后来吐的已经没力气看了,如果你没有seasick的问题的话尽管来看好了:)

Product: 观鲸的经历很难得,值得去一趟,一定要提前备好seasick的药,一定

1 week ago

Service: Service great Commentary great Weather turned poor hard to view any whale movements through the windows Needed WIPERS

Product: commentary great .weather turned poor visibility through windows poor need wipers

1 week ago

convenient with good service !!

1 week ago

Prepared staff, interesting and organized cruises.

I can't imagine a better way to visit Sydney Harbor

2 weeks ago

Service: Commentary was really throughout the whole whale watching. Several whales were seen but waters was quite choppy in big sea.

Product: Smooth purchase but slight hiccup on submitting details. I have sent it online but not captured on system.

2 weeks ago

Service: The staff in the night were exceptional- very friendly and quick with the food. Our waitress overheard that it was my mothers birthday and made the night extra special. The music was also lovely. Getting a drink was a little difficult as the staff were so busy serving food. Overall the night would have been a 4/5. The reason I rated a 3 is the online booking staff member. I sent an enquiry regarding a non alcoholic package for the designated driver and a few other questions regarding view and children packages. We went back and forth a few times but I felt the responses were very generic and I did not feel I was listened too. It felt like a generic computer response. The only reason I decided to give you a go was a previous experience with your company otherwise I would have went else where based on that experience. I hope this feedback helps.

Product: Staff were wonderful- informative and very caring (one of my party was not well). We saw lots of whales and I felt my comfort and experience was the crews main priority. Thank you.

My only suggestion would be to include an afternoon tea service (even for an extra few dolllars). There were a few other companies that do this.

2 weeks ago

Service: On time and good services

Product: First experience watching whales during cruise. It's worthy!

3 weeks ago

Service: Friendly, knowledgeable crew. The boat was clean and the trip was punctual and just the right length of time

Product: As already stated above. Same feedback

3 weeks ago

Service: we thought that he hole whalewatchig experince was great the comentry was excellent and the crew were helpful at all times

Product: day all together was excellent comentry was very good and crew was very helpful

4 weeks ago

Service: Commentator was good but the cruise was just average. Didnt see much whales and only from afar. A little boring.

Product: Boring cruise. Hardly saw any whales.

4 weeks ago

I booked the cruise at good price but had to cancel this morning of the event as my husband fell it.. I left a message to this affect and didn't even get a call back from anyone.

4 weeks ago

Service: The trip was the second day of the whale watching season. We were a little bummed that only one whale was seen. I awarded a good rating as the captain and crew were professional and did everything in their power to provide a good experience. The tour guide was well informed and entertaining. On the trip out and back he provided more information on Sydney harbor's history and features than the guide on the harbor tour we took two days before.

Product: Value was great. We booked on-line in advanced for a 50% discount.

4 weeks ago

Service: The captian/commentator was very charismatic. Reminded me of jack nicholson. Great guy :D. The experts picked up from Taronga zoo were also very friendly. Shame we only saw one lazy whale, but you can't help that.

Product: Good package; good value!

4 weeks ago

Service: We bought tickets for the Vivid 1 hour cruise . The organisation on the night was dreadful . We stood in the queue for a good 20 minutes begore we realised we were in the wrong queue and had then missed our departure @ 6.45. When I collected the tickets I was never told they're were 4 separate queue's.

Luckily we managed to get on the 7pm departure but we had to wait until everyone had boarded.

Product: Very well organised and amazed that we actually saw the whales . I have definitely recommended this trip

Response from Captain Cook Cruises: Dear Ms Crompton,,

Thank you for your review of VIVID and we were disappointed to read your comments as we did have a very large number of guests on the first night of VIVID over a range of Lights and Dining cruises and did have a coloured flag system to let our guests know where to queue up for their cruise.

We are glad we were able to accommodate you on the next lights cruise fifteen minutes later and we hope you enjoyed the lights of VIVID from the water.

We were  glad to read that you enjoyed your Whale Watching cruise too and thank you for your recommendation.

Head of Customer Services
Captain Cook Cruises

4 weeks ago

Service: My husband and I loved the whale watching cruise , as we did get to see 3 whales swimming together, but as the swell was alittle rough, so by the time we got back to Circular Quays we were feeling alittle green, as in off colour. But besides that, we did enjoy our time. :)

Product: We had an awesome time whale watching and seeing 3 whales swimming together. It was a part of my husbands 50th birthday present, as it was something we both had always wanted to do. The only negative(s) was the rough swell which by the end of the cruise we were feeling a little green around the gills ourselves, plus the inside of the cabin was too warm with the central heating been set to high. Besides that...it was great and I would thoroughly recommend it to everyone..and we would love to do it again ourselves.

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