In my opinion, there is no other way to witness the amazing display of Sydney’s New Year’s Eve than on a boat in the harbor. I could see the number of people amassing in the other viewing spots, and was so glad not to have to fight the crowds. (Though, I’d wager that Mrs. Maquarie’s Point is the best vantage spot for the action on the ground.)
I’d done some Internet research to find a boat for New Year’s Eve. The Harbor Queen was reasonably priced ($350 per person included dinner, dancing, and a great spot in the harbor for the fireworks.) One of the reasons I booked the Harbor Queen specifically is that, through email communication, the staff agreed to help me get a good spot and set up my camera equipment to capture the night. I booked in August, and there were limited spots on all of the boats even then, so I recommend the earlier the better. New Year’s Eve in Sydney takes a bit of advanced planning.
I was to meet the boat at the Casino Wharf in Darling Harbor at 7pm. At 6:50, the ship pulled into the harbor, but didn’t pull up to a dock – there was another boat there. There was a big argument between the captain of the docked boat and the administrator of the Harbor Queen. Apparently, there are assigned 15-minute dock time increments, and the other boat had snuck in. Police were called, but in order to get things moving, the other boat was allowed to finish, and we boarded at 7:30. Needless to say, the natives were getting restless at this point.
Some new friends that I’d met and I rushed to board so we could get a table on the top deck. We got up there to find that they were all reserved (all of us had tried to book a table on top, but were told there were no reservations.) We all headed toward the outside seating area a bit miffed, but accepting of our fate.
To add insult to injury, the food, as expected, was less than par. Plus, by the time I’d gotten down there (I’d watched the 9pm fireworks first), there were some slim pickin’s.
I will say this: the staff of the Harbor Queen did keep their promise about setting me up for the photography. I was allowed out on the bow, underneath the captain’s nest, where only the staff were permitted. In addition, they were kind enough to allow me to bring my three new friends out there with me, so I wouldn’t have to be alone to celebrate. I also made friends with a very cute and very nice Sydney-born-and-bred crewman named George. He was as fascinated with America as I was with Australia!
Funnily enough, most of the bad stuff didn’t really matter once the fireworks got going. I wouldn’t have been anywhere else.