The breeze gently running it’s fingers through your hair.. The golden glow of sunset warming your upturned face.. The wind in the sails, music to your overburdened ears. It’s bliss.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go out onto Sydney Harbour on the Tall Ships during the Naval Fleet Review. I was so excited, I can’t even describe it. The whole town of Sydney seemed to be hanging around the harbour to get a good view of the tall ships and the war ships and of course, Prince Harry, who was here representing his granny, the Queen of England. I was one of the lucky ones who had secured tickets on the tall ship to be out amongst the thick of it.
Now while I was definitely excited, I was also a little apprehensive to be honest, as during the Vivid festival, I had bought some cheap tickets for a cruise around the harbour with drinks and snacks included (run by a different company, may I add). Unfortunately, the cruise was so overcrowded that you couldn’t move and their idea of snacks was to pass a plate of chips with dip along a line of people and if the kids got to it first with double dipping their half sucked chips and fingers all at once, you really didn’t feel like eating it afterwards. They provided one drink and after that, even a glass of flat lemonade cost $5 so I was hoping against hope that tonight’s cruise would be different.
My friend and fellow photographer, Kirsty, and I got off the train at Circular Quay and took a slow, leisurely stroll alongside the harbour as we were too early for our cruise. Along the way, we saw numerous buskers, outdoor diners, families and tourists, all out to soak in as much of the atmosphere as possible. Around Circular Quay is a great place to be. It’s always a hive of activity. Today it was much busier than usual. We had our cameras out and were enjoying snapping the scenery around us while we continued our stroll around to Campbell’s Cove where the ships leave from.
We stood in line with other excited people and as the black ship, the Southern Swan, came in, the excitement levels rose greatly. There was a choice of two tall ships, The Southern Swan or The Soren Larson, but with dreams running through my head of Captain Jack Sparrow on The Black Pearl, I had secretly been hoping for the Southern Swan. It was a very mixed group of people who were waiting to board, from young kids to the more senior of passengers.
After the people from the earlier cruise had disembarked, it was our turn to board and we were met by our host for the night who was appropriately dressed in clothes of yesteryear. This all added to the atmosphere. We were ushered onboard and took a seat so we could all hear the safety instructions. They were really thorough with this which made me feel very secure straight up front. All the crew were dressed in suitable attire for an old fashioned cruise around the harbour and it was time to set sail.
As the ship set out, we watched the bustling activities of hoisting sails and all the other stuff they do to make it work (sorry, I’m not a sailor and don’t know all the proper lingo). Friendly wait staff came around with surprisingly good finger food. There was a wide variety of food from chicken on sticks, to quiches and even a type of gazpacho (which I admit to not liking but others loved it). It was hot and delicious (except the stuff that was meant to be cold of course). There were different levels of tickets and we had the one which included drinks. There was a bar at the back of the ship where we were sitting and we had a wonderful lady who served us drinks with very little waiting times.
As the onboard musician started to play, I looked behind me to see the most magnificent sight. Sydney harbour is beautiful at the best of times, but to see the bridge and opera house, silhouetted in front of the most magnificent yellow sunset, whilst listening to the rush of wind in the sails and a talented musician singing softly in the background, all the while eating beautiful food and sipping champagne, well, all fantasies of Johnny Depp went out the window. I had all the bliss I could manage. I didn’t know where to look first. There were warships lined up all along the shores of the harbour and I wanted to look closely at them, but I couldn’t drag my eyes away from the beauty of the scene behind me. I remember thinking before I boarded that maybe I’d chosen the wrong time of day to do the cruise as the warships were already docked for the evening and I would have liked to have seen them moving around, but the view that had my full attention was so spectacular that anything else just completely left my mind. If you look closely at one of the photos of the war ships with people on a platform just underneath it.. I’m wondering if I actually snapped a photo of Harry in a green shirt.. See what you think.. 🙂
My attention was momentarily dragged back to reality by a noise above me and I looked up to see a fellow passenger had climbed the mast (also part of the package offered, though I declined the opportunity). You could see the absolute thrill of exhilaration on her face as she got to the top. (There had been a safety call for those choosing to take the climb and I have to say, I was impressed with their safety standards in all areas. ) The view from up there must have been spectacular and I kicked myself that I let my fears take hold. Next time I go out (and there will be a next time) I will face it and climb the mast to get that view.
There was plenty of room to go wandering around the boat and have a good look at all areas and functions. It was such a thrill to watch the efficient crew making this baby run like a dream. They did it all with such ease yet a good deal of theatricals, especially designed to make our experience even better. I found it hard to know where to look as I wasn’t able to take the whole experience in which I found slightly frustrating. But if my only complaint is that there was too many incredible sights to take in, then I guess I’m a happy customer who just needs to take the trip again lol.
As the golden glow of the sunset finally faded and the lights of the city started to shine against the warm, dark night and we decided we could no longer get good photos, we struck up conversation with other passengers sitting near us. Their company was every bit as delightful as the atmosphere surrounding us. Every one of our senses were being overindulged. The smell of the salt water, good company, great music, delicious food, interesting conversation and some of the most spectacular scenery the world has to offer. Yes I was one happy girl right at that moment in time.
Before we knew it, it was time to head back into shore. The time had flown and I was disappointed to be heading back but I had enjoyed every single aspect of this cruise. It was more than a cruise, it was a complete experience. The crew, the costumes, the food, the drink, the scenery, the music, the company….. it was all top quality. The experience was so enjoyable and is suitable for people of all ages.
There were other cruises on offer, such as the convict cruise and the pirate ship, as well as different times of the day to experience the delights of the harbour. I’d love to go on the pirate ship next time but take my son and his girlfriend as well. He’s a bit of a Pirates of the Caribbean fan so would love that. I’m also excited about doing the convict cruise too. I might wait till one of my friends comes up from Victoria. She’d get a real buzz out of that one. And of course, I’d love to go out on the harbour again through the day to get a different view of it.. Oh what am I saying.. I just want to live on a tall ship lol.
Seriously, if you live in Sydney or are visiting our beautiful city, take the opportunity to go out on one of these delightful cruises. They are a lot more affordable than I expected them to be and definitely more enjoyable. There is a cruise to suit everyone too. You can find out more about them by clicking HERE. So now I just have to choose what to do for my next one but if I can talk someone into coming with me, perhaps New Year’s Eve on the Harbour? Then I can write that one off my bucket list too. So who wants to come with me??
Happy sailing… Livvy 🙂