Best Sydney Treats – A Sydney Harbour Lunch Cruise

RedBalloon Sydney Lunch Harbour Cruise

Sydney Harbour can put on a magnificent show.  A visit to the Harbour is always top of the list when we have visitors staying.  Lunch or dinner at a cafe on the Harbour is a must.

But when we’re left to our own devices, I reckon we Sydneysiders can neglect our city’s most glorious views.  Why wait for a visitor?  How about enjoying our Harbour simply to mark our own special occasions. Why not!?

I wanted to treat a very special friend on her birthday. She’s the lady who saved my sanity many times when my twins were tiny babies. Maria no longer works for me, but we love to catch up especially every year around her birthday.

RedBalloon Sydney Lunch Harbour Cruise

RedBalloon offered to shout us a treat – who could refuse?

RedBalloon has loads of ideas for presents for her.  But our eyes were caught by all the fantastic Sydney and Surrounds experiences that RedBalloon offers. 

And there it was! A Sydney Harbour Lunch Cruise, ideal for foodies.  A perfect treat for ladies who lunch, or rather who wished they lunched a lot more than they do. That’s us.

RedBalloon Sydney Lunch Harbour Cruise
The cruise departs from Circular Quay and travels first past the Opera House, looking lovely even on a steely, grey day.
RedBalloon Sydney Lunch Harbour Cruise
The menu had some delicious-sounding options.
RedBalloon Sydney Lunch Harbour Cruise
Our waitress was very friendly and helpful.

RedBalloon Sydney Lunch Harbour Cruise

Who chose that colour?

We cruised past Garden Island, Rushcutters Bay, Double Bay and past Point Piper. There really are some amazing houses along the water and we got great views of the multi-million dollar waterfront properties.

RedBalloon Sydney Lunch Harbour Cruise
Nosy? Moi?

I can totally see myself sunning on those loungers right there.

There’s a detailed commentary running all the while. This was really interesting but we were keen to natter and chatter too, so it felt a bit obtrusive at times.

Having said that, I learned a few new Sydney Harbour facts:

A gun is fired at 1pm each day from Fort Dennison

Rose Bay is the Harbour’s largest bay

There are 250km of shoreline around the entire Harbour – wow!

October 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the Australian Navy

RedBalloon Sydney Lunch Harbour Cruise
We both chose duck confit pumpkin gnocchi for a starter. A decision we did not regret!
RedBalloon Sydney Lunch Harbour Cruise
Shark Island with the cityscape behind.

I once organised a 30th birthday party on Shark Island for my boyfriend of the time: far away and long ago.

RedBalloon Sydney Lunch Harbour Cruise
Maria’s main was grilled Atlantic salmon, gremolata crust with hollandaise and oven roasted vegetables.
RedBalloon Sydney Lunch Harbour Cruise
Mine was organic chicken breast with champignon mushroom sauce, roasted sweet potato and baby beans.

The ship went over to the north side of the Harbour, past the Zoo and Cremorne, Neutral Bay and Milson’s Point and then under the Bridge.

RedBalloon Sydney Lunch Harbour Cruise
I like this shot – dull of colour though it is – of the Bridge with Blues Point Tower reflected on a shiny metal surface of the ship’s window.
RedBalloon Sydney Lunch Harbour Cruise
A moody shot of a ferry going past the finger wharves and pilot’s tower.
RedBalloon Sydney Lunch Harbour Cruise
My dessert was a velvety vanilla and chocolate mousse with light caramel syrup.
RedBalloon Sydney Lunch Harbour Cruise
Maria had a slow baked raspberry and apple crumble with cream.

The ship went into Darling Harbour and stopped at a wharf there, then weighed anchor for the return journey to Circular Quay.

RedBalloon Sydney Lunch Harbour Cruise
Past the huge worksite that is Barangaroo. Love the colourful little boat here.
Past my next home… one day! I’d love to have a little city hideaway in that block, who wouldn’t?
RedBalloon Sydney Lunch Harbour Cruise
And there’s the Bridge and Opera House. Looking stunning even on a less than perfect Sydney winter day.

What a treat!  How lucky were we. Great company, wonderful views and interesting information, and best of all, a lovely lunch as we cruised along.

Getting back onto dry land was a bit harsh, to be honest.  Back home for pickup, homework and being the cook, waitress and washer upper. But with some delightful memories.

Do you have a favourite Sydney Harbour haunt?

And what’s your idea of a great birthday treat?

Thanks for reading.








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  1. I would love to have this experience! What a gorgeous lunch cruise… I presume there is bubbly available 🙂

    I might have to book Mr GG and I in for this the next time we are in Sydney.
    LOL! At coming back to reality when you dock 🙁

  2. says: Mrs BC

    What a lovely lunch! I do love a Sydney harbour cruise, although I haven’t been on one in years. It’s wonderful to have a sticky beak at all the harbour front mansions, although you do see some sights..Hope you put your binoculars away when you went past Lady Jane beach!

  3. says: Author Bek Mugridge (

    This sounds (and looks) incredible!
    I am definitely marking this down as a to do in Sydney, such a beautiful city, I can’t wait to visit it again soon XX

  4. says: Emily

    I totally have a hankering for heading back to Sydney for a visit – my significant other and I lived there separately and then together for years before moving to QLD! I promise when (and I hope I can sort it out) I will organise a lunch with you and other bloggers! Em x

  5. says: Hotly Spiced

    What a lovely day out. No matter how many times I’m on the harbour, each new time is always exciting and full of interest. I don’t like the sound of that running commentary though – think I’d be looking around for where I can pull the cord out of the socket xx

  6. It is a gorgeous harbour. My mum is always harking on about arriving in the Sydney Harbour when she worked on a cruise ship before the Opera House had been built.

    Amazing really because I tend to think major landmarks which are so much a part of a destination have been there forever 🙂

  7. says: paintlater

    I never tire of Sydney Harbour. I’ve been on quite a few dinner cruises but that lunch looked fabulous. Rose Bay has a great Japanese Tapas cant remember the name really close to Ferry Terminal that makes a lovely day out too on a wintery sunny day. Cheers

  8. says: Lisa Wood

    Now that would be my ideal Birthday Treat – sounds lovely 🙂
    And I love cruising around Sydney Harbour. There is so much to see and lookout. When I was little my Aunty used to take me to Manly for the day.. Where we would have fun at the Water Slide, Fish n Chips for Lunch and slowly make our way home.
    Or even spend time at Luna Park – now that was a great time.

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