white bay terminal

Sydney’s White Bay Cruise Terminal

 White Bay Cruise Terminal, Sydney

Sunday evening in Sydney was grey and drizzly – much needed rain we told ourselves as we rolled up to Sydney’s new Cruise Terminal, perched in the backwaters of the harbour on old industrial land.
This terminal has had some bad press! The land wasn’t being used for anything much, a poorly patronised night club on one side but mostly industrial wasteland dominated by the White Bay Power Station. This Power Station no longer functions, was purchased about 14 years ago by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and is supposedly undergoing heritage restoration. The area has potential as another harbour precinct like Darling Harbour… and it may go that way now it is also being used as temporary home for the Exhibition centre.


We were very impressed with the new Terminal. Sydneysiders have expected that cruise ships will dock within easy reach of the city, easy – meaning walking distance – but in many cities visited by today’s cruise vessels these terminals are some way from the city’s sights. White Bay is not within walking distance, but it is a short shuttle or taxi ride away – and hopefully very soon it will be a 15 minute ferry ride away from Circular Quay.
It has a pleasant place to wait (not found at the Overseas Passenger Terminal – OPT), easy parking (impossible at the OPT), it is air-conditioned!! (yes really), has new facilities (as you would expect) and looks and works like a modern purpose-built cruise terminal! Like Darling Harbour which Sydneysiders whinged about for years after it was built, it is likely to become part of Sydney which we will wonder what we did without after a few years.

Penthouse suite on Crystal Symphony

We were on our way to a tour and dinner on the ‘Crystal Symphony’. This vessel holds a special place in my memory as it was my first ship tour – though it has been seriously renovated and updated since then. On Sunday she sailed up to Cairns and on to Darwin before heading into Asian waters.
She is a grand ship with some fabulous facilities and superbly comfortable cabins, which you would expect of a medium sized luxury cruise ship that was rated amongst the best in the 2013 Berlitz Cruise Guide.
‘Crystal Symphony’ is marketed to the over-50s and offers an amazing program of lectures, learning programs (ever wanted to play the piano or learn a language?) a diverse choice of beautifully appointed lounges, self-service laundries (a feature my partner really likes!) an Italian and a Japanese restaurant as alternatives to the Crystal Dining Room and wonderfully spacious deck areas. She will back in Australia in November this year (2014) – contact us if you would like a brochure!

Cruise terminal for Sydney

The lack of space for cruise ships to dock in Sydney Harbour is an ongoing discussion among many who are involved with the cruise industry – particularly those who live in our magnificent city.
For three to four months a year the harbour welcomes new cruise ships every day, many sailing between the Heads as the sun rises… a memorable experience for those on board.
However there is a shortage of suitable places for ships to dock. Recently the State Government announced a committee to look into the problem of cruise ship facilities in Sydney Harbour, especially east of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Many ships are too big to pass under our famous coathanger so establishing cruise terminals at Darling Harbour (Barangaroo) or White Bay Terminal (not an attractive option with its lack of public transport and industrial port look) is not the answer.
Circular Quay did the job for years but is now dwarfed by many of the visiting ships and because it has been given over to restaurants does not work as well as it should.
However a report in the Sydney Morning Herald on 25 May stated that the Defence Department, which controls Garden Bay where the Queen Victoria docked on her last visit, is planning to base additional naval vessels there and this is not an option.
I hope that the committee has some teeth and is capable of making suggestions that are workable – as the White Bay Terminal currently is not. Another possibility might be Chowder Bay with the old Georges Heights military establishment. This area has enormous historical significance as the site of one of the largest military hospitals after World War I. Would a sympathetic development with a ferry wharf taking passengers across to the city be worth considering? I often walk that way and realise I don’t have any photos to illustrate this idea… must get my camera out next time!
Let’s hope something happens sooner rather than later. There is tremendous competition between ports for cruise line traffic and we want the cruise lines to have an easy choice when planning to include Sydney.