For the time being, Sydney is still the major setting-off point for the majority of cruise ships heading up or down the Australian coast, to the South Pacific, New Zealand and even Asia. Many of these voyages attract travellers based outside of Sydney who need to fly in to the city to begin their voyage.

The New South Wales capital – Australia’s largest city – offers public transport options to help you get to either of Sydney’s two cruise terminals, if you consider a taxi to be too expensive.

Overseas Passenger Terminal

Without question the busiest and best positioned cruise port in Sydney Harbour, the only problem with the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay – from where most cruises depart – is that it can only accommodate one large ship at a time, or two small ones. However it is very well located and easy to access from Sydney Airport.

Step 1 – Catch the train.

Signs directing you from the airport terminal right to the train station are prevalent in both the International and Domestic buildings. If you are a regular visitor to Sydney and have an Opal Card, use this to board the train, however One-Way tickets are able to be purchased at a number of machines or ticket windows at the station, costing around $17.60 per adult and $14.10 per child inclusive of the Airport Station Fee.

Head down the escalators or the elevator to Platform 1. Most services will be heading to the City Circle, so join one of these trains and after about 15 minutes, you’ll arrive at Circular Quay station and in most cases will be able to see your cruise ship from there.

Step 2 – Walk to the terminal.

After exiting the station, the Overseas Passenger Terminal is a short walk away.

The Overseas Passenger Terminal is the one you will use if you’re booked to sail on Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises, Cunard, Norwegian Cruise Line (from February 2017) and Cunard. From time to time, Holland America Line and P&O Cruises may depart from this terminal, however check your itinerary to be sure.

White Bay Cruise Terminal

Sydney’s newest cruise terminal was opened in early 2013 and has certainly provided a new option for the smaller ships to be able to dock in the city. If the ship can fit within the 49m space between the water line and the base of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, chances are your ship will depart from White Bay. Unfortunately the facility is a little more difficult to reach without a direct car or taxi, but it’s not impossible and in fact has become easier recently.

Step 1 – Catch the train.

Repeat Step 1 exactly as above.

Step 2 – Board the special Captain Cook Cruises ferry service.

Earlier this year, Sydney Harbour day cruise operator Captain Cook Cruises launched the first White Bay ferry to make it easier for travellers to reach the facility, notoriously missing any real public transport options.

Tickets for this ferry service are priced at $9 per person (free for ages 0-3) and can be purchased either onboard or by CLICKING HERE. Ferries depart from Circular Quay Wharf 6 (the train station exits are at Wharves 4 and 5) every 20 minutes any day a ship is taking new passengers at White Bay. The trip takes 20 minutes to arrive at Captain Cook Cruises’ private dedicated wharf at the cruise port, located very close to your ship.

Step 3 – Walk to the terminal.

For guests ending their cruise at White Bay, the same service is available in the reverse direction to take you back to Circular Quay.

If you’ve booked P&O Cruises, Holland America Line, on Princess Cruises’ smaller vessels such as Sun Princess or Sea Princess or one of the ultra-luxury vessels from Seabourn, Silversea Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Ponant or Azamara Club Cruises, then there’s a good chance you’ll be boarding your ship at White Bay.

Don’t be daunted by Sydney’s public transport system, which may appear intimidating but can be navigated quite easily even if it’s your first time in the city. If you do run into any trouble, a staff member can point you in the right direction. Make sure you allow enough time to reach your ship, so book a flight which arrives early in the morning, consider the possibility of any short delays and you’ll be onboard your ship in no time.