Cruise Port Itinerary: 36 Hours in Sydney, Australia

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Challenge accepted.

I used to work in the cruising industry and one of the biggest (and incredibly rare) perks was free/highly discounted cruises. While I’m always so happy and grateful to go on cruises, I’ll admit, it’s not usually my style of travel. I’m usually a hostel-leave-your-stuff-everywhere kind of person and not used to having housekeeping clean my room 3 times a day. Seriously, we had to ask our housekeeper to stop cleaning it so much and take a break or something. One of the biggest down sides though is that you only get to stay in the port for so long so you really have to take advantage of your time well. However, with Sydney, it was actually very ideal. Here’s why:

1. Sydney Metropolitan

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Good vibes only.

After visiting Sydney, I realized that it’s a lot like my hometown of Vancouver. Except with wayyyy better weather. It’s downtown is built around a harbour, it’s beautiful, and it’s very expensive (housing and dining out-wise). Of course there’s still things to do, but a quick search will tell you that there are few landmarks to see but nothing super touristy to do. Sydney is just good vibes.

2. Transit Everywhere

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And just like Vancouver, it has a very good transit system. Which may not be a plus for most people but after backpacking through Asia two months prior and having just come out of sleeping in a car in New Zealand, I forgot what good transit really looks like. Plus, taxis are expensive.

Transit Info

I had an overnight on the cruise and we arrived in the morning at the Sydney International Airport. So essentially, I was there for two days. If you are as well, I would recommend getting an Opal Card (equivalent to Vancouver’s Compass Card or London’s Oyster). If you’re cruise leaves from the Overseas Passenger Terminal (most large ships do) than there is a train straight from the airport and take it to Circular Quay Station. It’s about a 20 minute ride so it gets you there the fastest and cheapest. Although the trip is only $4.20 AUD, the trip in total is $18.00 AUD for an adult with the $13.80 “train station access fee.” The fee can be avoided by taking the 400 bus, but it takes a considerable amount longer, and you have to try to pack your luggage in the bus.

UPDATE: Uber – Uber had not arrived to Sydney when I was there, but a quick research shows the trip as $50+ AUD, definitely the best option if you are a group of 4 or more.  Although Sydney traffic can be horrific during rush hour so it can take upwards of 40 minutes, and you may need more than one Uber if there is a lot of luggage.

Depending on the price/schedule, I’m not a big fan of cruiseline transfers unless you are in a time crunch and need a guarantee to make it to the ship on time. We had more than plenty of time and I love experiencing a city’s transit system and getting new keepsakes so for me, the transit was fine. For top up, I would suggest $25-30 depending on how much you want to go around. A lot of Sydney is walkable around the cruise port – the Opera House is practically next door! The $18 for the train trip is enough and most cruises leave on a Sunday where transit is $2.50 all day – unlimited travel! So if you don’t plan on going that much on your day of arrival $25 AUD is enough for 2 days.

3.  Photo-Ready Opera House

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While I’m ususally backpacking alone, it’s fortunate my bestfriend Leah is also a traveller and our paths cross sometimes! (She has a habit of moving to different countries/continents at a moment’s notice)

Sing your heart out at the Opera House

Of course, a must is just to walk around (and pose) at the Opera House. Tickets are always available at www.sydneyoperahouse.com, but it’s really time consuming for such a short trip in.

4. Sunset walks + Seafood

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Taste of Sydney.

I know it’s so tempting to always just eat everything on the boat. But for a meal, taste Sydney and the delicious seafood!

5. Bondi Beach

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Salty Hair + Sunshine.

Truly worth going out of your way to see Bondi Beach. There are plenty of areas to sit and tan, but if you’re like me, the beach stretches on forever, so it’s just a nice walk as well.

6. Explore the city

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Coffee by the harbour, darling?

That was supposed to be a joke. Cause it’s Darling Harbour, get it? HAHAHA My cousin didn’t think it was that funny either, but really the harbour is worth a walk around. Some Starbucks as the afternoon begins to fade and its all good.

7. Racing back to the ship.

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Watch the clock.

Okay so this was my first cruise and I didn’t know the time time to get back to the ship was so strict. Okay, I should have known, but I was catching up with a cousin I hadn’t seen for almost a decade and there was a lot to talk about. Anyways what I’m saying is make every minute last but don’t be like me and be the very last person to board the ship and have the crew members (nicely) remind you about port times.

8. Good night, Sydney.

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One of the last reasons, seeing Sydney by cruise is ideal is because you get to stay on the ship. Accommodation can be super expensive if you want to stay central and as I mentioned before, Sydney is essentially centralized around the cruise port. Finally, going by a cruise ship gives you a rare front view of the Opera House under the stars. Breathtaking.

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