It seems almost a lifetime ago. We were about to enjoy a Sydney Harbour sunset as we sailed away on a Royal Caribbean cruise.
First, we needed to take it all in, to stand in wonderment and enjoy what is so often considered the world’s most beautiful harbour.
As we watched, Sydney Harbour was abuzz with activity. The cruise ship we were set to embark on was docked, and there was a flurry of ferries, commercial boats, day sailing tours, and recreational yachts out on the water.
We were captivated by both the famous harbour bridge and internationally recognized opera house.
Cruising out of Sydney
On that particular day, Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas sat in wait for a new load of passengers, which was to include us. Cruising was still a popular and safe way to travel.
Alongside 2000 others, we stepped aboard, ready to begin an exciting adventure sailing over the top of Australia, including a brief stop in Bali, Indonesia.
Our cabin was pristine, but we didn’t want to spend time there. We headed straight up to deck 11 aft, an open-air spot in the back of the ship where we could watch as we sailed out of Sydney Harbour as the sun set behind the Harbour Bridge.
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Leaving the harbour
The dock lines that hold the cruise ship in place are massive. It was interesting to watch as the dockworker pulled the lines off a bollard that was nearly half his own height. As he threw the final stern line into the sea, releasing the Radiance of the Seas from the dock, we were off on our first cruise with Royal Caribbean.
Next, the pilot boat guided us out of Sydney Harbour at sunset, a visual treat I will never forget. We began by backing away from the dock towards the Harbour Bridge. We could see Luna Park under the bridge (There is also a Luna Park in Melbourne.)
It took less than an hour from throwing the final line until we were out of Sydney Harbour, but it was pretty magical.
Photo tour of Sydney Harbour at sunset
The sun set behind the bridge as we left, casting an orange glow to the warm night sky. As we rounded the iconic opera house, the light changed with every angle. The colours of the sky were as spectacular as one would expect of a Sydney Harbour sunset.
Best of all, we were up high on deck 11, well above sea level, looking down at all the beauty and taking it all in. Even as the opera house and bridge faded from view, the scene was spectacular.
The Sydney Harbour bridge is one of our favourite worldwide bridges.
How can I enjoy a Sydney Harbour sunset on a smaller boat?
It’s not just cruise ships that get to enjoy a Sydney Harbour sunset. In fact, all you have to do is go to the water’s edge, and you can enjoy it for free. However, if you want to see it from the water, here are three options.
Take the Ferry
If you are looking for the most economical way to get out on the water and enjoy the sunset, that would be a ferry. Plan well, and you can take the ferry over to Manly during the day, enjoy a fabulous afternoon at the beach or a cafe, and cruise back from Manly to Circular Quay at sunset. Time it right, and you are in for a treat. Click here for route and times.
Dinner and sunset from a tall ship
More than just a vintage 1850’s style tall ship, this adventure includes dinner and sunset. If that’s not enough, those who want can hoist the sails or steer the ship. This two-hour journey features a three-course dinner that includes vegetarian and gluten-free options. Check for discounts and reserve your sail.
Sunset catamaran cruise
Short on time? This one-hour cruise may be exactly what you need to get out on the water and enjoy the sunset. You can even bring your own alcoholic beverages on board. Reserve your catamaran cruise here.
A few facts on Sydney Harbour
- Sydney Harbour is the largest harbour in the world, holding over 500 gigalitres of water.
- Over 15 million passenger trips are taken on Sydney Harbour ferries each year.
- The Sydney Harbour Bridge holds two world records. It is both the tallest steel arch bridge and the widest long-span bridge.
- There are over 20 swimmable beaches in Sydney Harbor.
- Don’t miss our list of free things to do in this city and discover why we think it is one of the most beautiful cruise ports in the world, or head out on a day trip from Sydney.
Our next cruise port was Brisbane, Australia.
Save on your Australia trip with these resources
We usually start with aggregator companies as they do the work for us by providing a list of options, prices, and reviews. However, we also added a few personal NZ favourites:
- Flights: we use Expedia for the best and cheapest flight options.
- Hotels: we use Booking.com as they consistently return the best rates and their reviews are from actual guests. However, for self-contained lodging in Australia, we use VRBO
- Cars and Campervans: we use RentalCars to find the best deals and dealer ratings. Use Jucy for small campervans.
- Activity discounts: we always check Bookme.com for discounts of up to 70% on selected tours, activities, restaurants and more.
- Travel Insurance: we start at InsureMyTrip as they are the best option to compare plans and find the right coverage for you.
Before you book the rest of your trip: Check out our travel resources page for more companies that we use when you travel.
We believe this list to be the best in each category. You can’t go wrong using them on your trip too.
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Have you seen a Sydney Harbour sunset?
Disclaimer: In addition to VIP treatment onboard the Radiance of the Seas, we were provided with many complimentary extras. The opinions expressed here are strictly my own.
Breathtaking and incredible views! Fabulous photography! 😀
I enjoyed reading this post so much! Thanks for sharing this tips
I really like the way you describe the post..
The Sydney harbor is so gorgeous! I hope I get to visit at some point in the future!
I wonderful when we will be able to cruise again? We had a 12 day cruise with two new islands, Grenada and St. Vincent of Grenadines but the Covid screwed that up. I’m not sure if we’ll every cruise again with all of those different arrangements. I’m 71 and I’m not sure that cruising will be in our mind anymore and I loved cruising so much.
I like the view of the opera house from the water. Such an iconic structure! I’m sure it’s a rare person who wouldn’t recognize it!
Loved all the photos! Your life is so exciting and inspiring!
Lydia C. Lee
We went out on the harbour last weekend – i never tire of it! So beautiful….and the water is the cleanest I’ve seen it- we could see the bottom where we were swimming!!
What a beautiful way to spend your last day in Sydney! Looks like it was a stunning sunset and must have been even more amazing in person 🙂 I hope to visit Sydney again in the next couple years!
How wonderful! I actually have good friends in Sydney, so hope that one day I may be able to do this. Such a gorgeous view.
What a beautiful sunset and view on the Sydney Harbour. That cruise must have been fantastic.
Lovely photos! I love that there are so many options for soaking in the views of Sydney harbour!
This post made me so nostalgic! I used to work on a cruise ship before COVID and we cruised past Sydney as well. Such a magical experience! Great post!
Those views are incredible! Sydney is one of the top destinations on my bucket list and has been there since I was a little girl. I can’t wait to visit one day and see the Opera House for myself!
As always, I am loving your photos! You make Sydney look magical instead of another big city (I’m sure it is magic, but it’s extra special here haha).
I haven’t been to Sydney yet, but the views you got of the harbour from the cruise ship are incredible, especially at sunset!
Lyn @ aholeinmyshoe
We sailed into Sydney and have never sailed out. It would be amazing to see the harbour as the sunsets. I love sailing and I love so would love to go back… maybe a cruise to NZ
We did the opposite. We sailed out of Sydney, but never sailed in. I imagine the first visit would be pretty amazing to sail into.
WoW! Awesome post and amazing cruise. I would like to sail Sydney on that cruise. Thanks for sharing such wonderful cruise information.
Wow! One of my highlights of Sydney Harbour is watching the cruise ships leave the harbour.
Hey, Rhonda Albom, I have become a big fan of your blog. Just amazing pictures you have shared. Sydney is my favorite and especially the Opera House.
I agree, it was magical. The 4th shot is fun… and the sunset shots are amazing!! I love your photography Rhonda.
Lisa @ LTTL
I have..and it was back in 2005! 11 years ago, Rhonda :)…hope I can visit Australia soon ..
Oh wow, you got some beautiful shots here Rhonda 🙂 I have never been before but it somewhere I would love to visit ..
It is one of my favourite harbours.
nice shots! I like the one of Luna Park 🙂
You seem really high up. I’m wondering how bog the ship was considering the harbor doesn’t look all that big…
Rhonda, your photos are just sublime! Postcard perfect; you must be thrilled. I did a cruise to the pacific out of Sydney Harbour nearly 30 years ago — it was awesome. I love sailing around Sydney Harbour, it really is a beautiful place to visit and as a Melbournian you know how hard that is to admit…lol
Sydney Harbor is lovely! Not sure if we will have time to do a harbour cruise when we visit this Christmas, but I’ll definitely take the kids there. I’ve always thought that the bridge is just magnificent.
I’ve not sailed out of Sydney Harbor. I much prefer our little boat to a cruise ship. More fun to hubby and I. You did some really great shots.
Have a fabulous cruise. ☺
Very nice images of an iconic structure. The time of day for the last image is just perfect.
Alex J. Cavanaugh
What a great view of the Opera House. You must’ve been on the top deck.
Yes, we were up on deck 11 out of 13 on the ship.
L. Diane Wolfe
What a beautiful view. It passed all the landmarks. Luna Park used to have a roller coaster, didn’t it?
We went on a cruise in 2004 and I really want to go on another one. Loved it.
It still does have a roller coaster 🙂
I love the views towards Luna Park and the photo of you looking at the Opera House – what an amazing trip
Thanks Suze. Actually, that’s not me. I took the shot.
What a fantastic trip! Your photos are beautiful and I love the sunset. Have a great trip!
These photos look amazing, I really loved Sydney Harbour!
Found you via Life Thru the Lense
Hi Rhonda – sounds like an amazing cruise to be on and what a way to leave Sydney … looking forward to more story line and wonderful photos … cheers Hilary