Category Archives: Sydney

Sydney, Australia

Captain Cook Sydney Harbour Cruise Darling Harbour Departure Point

Captain Cook Sydney Harbour Dinner Cruise

Captain Cook Cruises – Sydney Harbour Dinner Cruise

We have been to Sydney many times before but had never been aboard one of the Captain Cook Cruise boats that seem to be everywhere on Sydney Harbour, so on our latest Sydney trip we decided to experience them for ourselves.

Our Captain Cook experience was on a Christmas Party Buffet Dinner Cruise (Saturday night) which is available during the busy Christmas Season. As we were at the start of the festive season our cruise was not too busy and only had 32 guests plus staff aboard so we had plenty of room on our vessel, which was the John Cadman 2. We started boarding the John Cadman 2 from the Darling Harbour No.1 King St Wharf at 7.30pm and with such a small crowd, it didn’t take long until we were all aboard and set to go.

We boarded the boat and were led to our Christmas themed tables where there was some Tyrrell’s white and red wines waiting for us. Soon after being seated our waiter was around to serve some sparkling wine. Once drinks were poured we took ourselves upstairs to the top deck to take in the full view of Sydney Harbour. Leaving at that time of night could provide some amazing sunset views of Sydney Harbour but unfortunately for us it was an overcast night.

The trip around Sydney Harbour takes you under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and goes past many famous Sydney landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House, Kirribilli House and Luna Park.

The buffet dinner and drink package we purchased included unlimited beer, wine and soft drinks (spirits were available to purchase at extra cost) and we found the staff very prompt in refilling our drinks. The seafood buffet dinner was sufficient, although wouldn’t say amazing. It included various seafoods such as oysters, prawns and mussels with plenty of salads. There was also a mixture of other hot dishes including chicken drumsticks, hokkien noodles, rice, vegetables, butter chicken and beef provencale. Dessert included fresh fruit and a section of cakes and slices.

Our cruise also had a DJ and dance floor so after dinner there was a lot of dancing and it really became a good night out. We docked back at Darling Harbour around 11.00pm, so enjoyed three and a half hours aboard the boat. This was a nice little cruise to get out and see Sydney Harbour at night while having a lot of fun.

Captain Cook has a range of different cruises available including an a la carte dinner as well as lunch time cruises.  For more information on the different Captain Cook Cruises around Sydney Harbour go to www.captaincook.com.au

Of course there are a lot of different cruise companies that provide an entertaining way to see Sydney Harbour, so do your homework before deciding on the best type of cruise to suit you.  Another one we have tried and enjoyed is the Sydney Tall Ships lunch time cruise (see review here).

View from the Pool Deck at the Quay West Suites Sydney

Quay West Suites Sydney

Hotel Review of a Two Bedroom Apartment at the Quay West Suites Sydney

The Quay West Suites Sydney is apartment style accommodation ideally located in The Rocks district, providing stunning views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. With a choice of either one or two bedroom apartments, Quay West is definitely an ideal choice for travelling families who want to stay right in the heart of Sydney.

Check-in was smooth and we were allocated a two bedroom apartment on the 9th floor. The apartment was quite spacious and even being on one of the lower floors, the views were pretty amazing. On arrival there was a welcome gift of a bottle of Evian water with a glass of biscuits & lollies as well as a tim tam chocolate biscuit. Quay West is part of the Accor Hotel chain and the welcome gift was one of the benefits of being a Le Club Accor Hotel member. Be sure to join up as a member before staying as this will give you free wifi for your stay as well as a welcome drink voucher (for silver or above members).

The apartments come with a well equipped kitchen which is perfect for those travelling with families and that would prefer to bring some groceries and eat in room. There was on oven, microwave, toaster, kettle, dishwasher, cutlery, glasses, plates, bowls, cooking utensils as well as pots and pans. There are two little fridges, one full of mini bar items and the other was an empty fridge. The empty fridge is only mini bar size so best not to go overboard if bringing your own groceries. There is also a mini bar snack & amenity basket full of items for purchase. Another good feature for families is a washing machine and dryer hidden away in one of the hallway cupboards. We were only there for two nights so didn’t use them but would be useful for those staying longer term.

The main bedroom had a big nice and comfy bed and we found that there was plenty of cupboard space, complete with bathrobes and slippers. This main bedroom also comes with a good size ensuite including a separate bath and shower. It was well equipped with plenty of towels as well as the wonderful smelling Appelles bathroom amenities.

There was a second smaller bedroom as well as another separate bathroom. The separate bathroom came with just shower (no bath) but it did have the Appelles bathroom amenities as well as plenty more towels.

There is another hallway cupboard which has more storage space and also houses the room safe. The safe was one where you need to swipe a credit card instead of the usual ones where you input the 4 number digits. We really didn’t like this type of safe. If you wanted to lock all your valuables up and go up to the pool for a swim, you still had to take your credit card with you as well. Hopefully this is something that Quay West could look into changing in the future. Also in this cupboard are the pool towels that you can take with you if going for a swim.

We would definitely recommend going up to the pool area on the 23rd level, even if it is just to have a look around as the views just get even better up there. As you walk from the elevator to the pool area, the first thing you come across is the viewing window that looks straight at the underwater pool area which is a little different. As you head up to the pool deck, you come across the wonderful view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Head outside and you will find a little outdoor deck area complete with a couple of sun lounges.

Next to the pool is a gym which is pretty well equipped with cardio machines and weights.

Dining and drinks are available at Quay West in the Harrington Restaurant & Bar.  We did drop by the bar for a quick drink and found it very quiet up there. We tried out the Espresso Martinini from the cocktail list and found it just ok. There are plenty of bars and eateries around The Rocks and Circular Quay area though. Harts Pub is just across the road and is a great little historic pub that serves great beer and burgers. We also walked to Darling Harbour, which has a lot of eateries and it only took about 15 minutes to get there.

We found the Quay West Suites in Sydney really suitable for family stays. The wonderful location and the spectacular views make it hard to beat when deciding where to stay in Sydney. We loved that you could just sit in the room and watch all that Sydney Harbour has to offer, especially when those big cruise ships are on the move!

For more information on Quay West Suites Sydney go to www.quaywestsuitessydney.com.au

Hilton Sydney

Hilton Sydney Hotel Review

Hotel Review of the Hilton Sydney

Last weekend we managed to get away from the kids and travelled up to Sydney to celebrate our Wedding Anniversary. Being Hilton Honors Diamond members, we stayed at the Hilton Sydney (the only property in the Hilton chain in Sydney). We had previously stayed here before and really loved the location as well as the friendly staff and fantastic service.

From the airport we caught the Airport Link train to Town Hall station which was hassle free as we only had little travel bags with us. The trip takes about 23 minutes and cost $17 per adult. As there was only two of us, this was a cheaper option than grabbing a Taxi (which can cost between $40-$50). After arriving at Town Hall station it is only 100 metres away to walk, nice and handy!

We had booked a King Hilton Guest room and upon check in were upgraded to an executive level room due to our HH Status. The rooms at the Hilton Sydney are a lot smaller than other Hilton Hotels. The decor though is modern and stylish and they do try to make the most of this smaller space. The bathroom especially while very nice is quite cramped and not easy for two people to be in there at the same time. When we arrived in the room there were some complimentary chocolates with a note from the Manager wishing us a very Happy Anniversary which was a nice gesture. Our 2 bottles of complimentary water that HH members are entitled to however were not. We made a quick call to their MAGIC service and they were delivered in about 5 minutes (note: we only received the water on first night not the second like some other Hilton Hotels will do).

Be advised that the mini bar is an automatic system where if something is moved, it is charged. We are not particularly fond of these automated systems especially when traveling with kids, as it is sometimes pretty easy for little fingers to move items around. You can avoid this however by using the MAGIC service to bring up a mini fridge to store bottles of water and juice etc. which is what we did last time we stayed here with the kids.

We took advantage of the Executive Lounge on level 36 which has canapés and drinks in the evening from 6.00pm-8.30pm (mon-fri) and 6.00pm-8.00pm (sat-sun). There is a nice variety of foods with two hot dishes a night along with cold cuts, breads, cheese board and crackers, seafood options and salad. They also have a selection of little desserts which were very nice. They put out tubs of beers to help yourself but you have to go up to staff to get wines and spirits. Coffee, tea and soft drinks are available all throughout the day. There is afternoon tea available from 3.00pm-600pm daily which has freshly made cakes and cookies. Continental Breakfast is served from 6.30-10.00am (mon-fri) and 6.30-11.00am (sat-sun).

Being Diamond members we were given the option to have the buffet breakfast at Glass Brasserie which we opted for instead of the lounge. This is a really nice restaurant, loved the high ceilings and it has a great ambience. There were plenty of staff on hand and they provided efficient service. The food was excellent with a selection of asian and western foods with a nice fruit and juice bar. Pastries were also aplenty so we left here feeling very full and satisfied. Glass Brasserie is operated by Luke Mangan and apparently lunch and dinner here is excellent as well. We didn’t get a chance to dine at Glass other than for breakfast on this stay but will definitely try it out on our next stay.

In the lobby there is Cafe Cino which is also open for breakfast if you don’t want to shell out the $38 per person for the buffet breakfast. Prices here seemed very reasonable and you can dine in or take away fresh snacks from 7.00am to 7.00pm. You can even relax with a beer or wine in the evening at this cafe. There are another two bars, Marble Bar and Zeta Bar which are open from 4.00pm for drinks or cocktails.

There is a Gymnasium and 25 metre pool with Jacuzzi and Steam Rooms which is part of the Living Well Health Club. There is also the Alysium day spa but didn’t try it so can’t make comment on it.

Situated at 488 George St, the location is great and very centrally located. It is just a short stroll to Darling Harbour (between 5-10 mins depending on your pace) if you want to catch a ferry. Hilton Sydney is also close to Town Hall station if you need to catch a train as well as a bus stop right outside. If you love shopping, its right across the road from the QV Shops and just a short distance from Pitt St Mall. It is also walking distance to Circular Quay and The Rocks area. Walk straight down George St and you will be there in 20-30 mins depending on your pace. Recommend the walk on a Saturday or Sunday as The Rocks Markets are on from 10.00am-5.00pm on those days.

Overall the Hilton Sydney is very nice hotel, but our advice would be to book early to get cheaper rates as prices seem to become very high at times (especially for weekends). To see rates go to www.hilton.com

Sydney Harbour Tall Ship

Sydney Harbour Tall Ships

Sydney Harbour Tall Ships – Lunch Cruise

We recently tried out one of the Sydney Harbour Tall Ships cruises and had a really great relaxing afternoon. We opted to do the Lunch Cruise which included two hours sailing time aboard the Soren Larsen as well as lunch dining. As an extra we also booked the open bar package (includes unlimited soft drinks, juices, beer, wine and sparkling) and for an extra $22 per person and would definitely recommend that optional extra.

We boarded promptly and on time. The boat takes off under motor for the first half of the trip. Once the boat is unmoored, the bar is open and the drinks flow freely. A few canapés start to be handed out about 15 minutes into the cruise. There is also an option to purchase a Mast Climb if you are brave enough! They get people started doing the mast climbs pretty much straight away due to the rule that no alcohol can be consumed before you climb.

The boat sets out around Sydney Harbour and the friendly crew (we had Tom as our main guide) and the Captain Marty will provide any answers for questions you might have as well as giving you commentary on historical events and general information about Sydney itself. After around 45 minutes, the boat starts to turn around, then the crew brings the sails down (you can help out if that is something you want to try) and the engine is switched off. This provides a more quiet slow-moving time to start lunch.

Now don’t expect too much from the Tall Ships lunch experience, it is not a gourmet feast. It consists of a green salad, coleslaw, potato salad, pulled meats (pork, chicken and beef) with bread rolls. Chocolate brownies are offered around for dessert also. The lunch was actually fine for us as we had earlier had a big buffet breakfast at our hotel and weren’t really very hungry anyway. It may not be enough though if you hadn’t eaten very much earlier in the day. It is then a nice slow cruise heading back to port under sail while you take in the beautiful scenery of Sydney Harbour.

There are different cruise options available leaving from Campbells Cove, The Rocks which are;

  •  Lunch Cruise – sails daily except for Tuesdays (1.45pm to 3.45pm)
  • Afternoon Discovery Cruise – sails daily except Tuesdays (4.00pm to 5.30pm)
  • Twilight Dinner Cruise – sails daily except for Tuesdays (5.45pm to 7.45pm)
  • Convicts, Castles and Champagne Tour – Mon, Thur, Fri, Sat and Sun (1.00pm to 4.45pm)
  • Champagne Brunch Cruise – Sundays (11.00am to 1.00pm)
  • Attack of the Pirates (great for families!) for a limited time on Saturdays and Sundays (1.30pm to 2.45pm from Campbells Cove) (3.15pm to 4.45pm from Milsons Point Wharf)

If the Sydney Harbour Tall Ships is something you might like to do, a tip would be to join the mailing list on their website. You will then receive weekly email updates and specials that may help cut costs. We were travelling to Sydney on a Friday and got an email the Thursday before we travelled offering us a great deal on the Saturday Lunch Cruise, which we then happily booked. Cost through that was $65 per person (and we paid an additional $22 pp for open bar) which also included the mast climb (although we were not brave enough to do it!) so it was a really great deal. It worked out that we saved $84 pp from the standard prices on the website.

This was a really enjoyable experience and suitable for both couples and families. For more information on the Sydney Tall Ships go to www.sydneytallships.com.au or call on (02) 8015 5571