130 Argyle Street
The Rocks NSW 2000
02 9296 4999
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Sydney has two cruise terminals, the Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT) and White Bay Cruise Terminal. Taller, larger ships, which can't fit under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, dock at the OPT, while smaller ships dock at White Bay. Check with your cruise line or travel agent for the correct cruise terminal as these venues are a 20-minute drive apart.
Sydney's original terminal is located in the shadow of the Sydney Harbour Bridge at an historic area known as The Rocks. It's the city's prestige terminal and an easy walk from all the main harbour attractions at Circular Quay and many of Sydney's prime hotels. It also has great views of the Sydney Opera House for departing and arrival passengers. Today it houses big ships, or those that are too tall to fit under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The terminal is very busy during Sydney's warmer months; the cruise season can run from late September to April, and very occasionally into May. The busiest month is February, when there is a ship in port almost every day.
The Circular Quay area has many restaurants, bars and historic pubs, shops and is a transport hub with excellent public transport links; bus stops are nearby as is the Circular Quay railway station and a brand-new Sydney Light Rail station. Sydney's Central Business District (CBD) includes the main shopping district and major offices, is located about a kilometre south of the harbour or around a 15-minute walk.
Directions to the Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT)
It's easy to get to the OPT by public transport as trains and buses arrive at Circular Quay railway station throughout the day and night. There are regular buses that have stops near the Overseas Passenger Terminal: Buses 325, 343, 380 and 396.
The new Sydney Light Rail transit line is now operating from Circular Quay to the Sydney suburbs of Randwick and Surry Hills via Central Railway Station. From March 2020, the service will extend to the south-eastern suburbs of Kensington and Kingsford.
Circular Quay is the hub of an excellent ferry service with boats operating on the harbour and along the Parramatta River, which is an arm of Sydney Harbour. Ferries stop at the harbourside suburbs of Manly, Neutral Bay, Mosman, Double Bay, Watson's Bay, Rose Bay and Balmain, while the Parramatta 'RiverCat' service connects western suburbs such as Drummoyne, Abbotsford and Meadowbank to Circular Quay, either directly or via several stops along the way.
A direct train service operates from both the domestic and international airport terminals to Circular Quay, taking about 25 minutes.
Driving time from Sydney Airport terminals is about 20 minutes when traffic is not backed up. The airport is about 15 km south of Circular Quay. The quickest route to Circular Quay is via the M1 expressway.
A handful of share-ride bus shuttle services run between Sydney Airport and the OPT in Circular Quay in both directions. They include Con-X-ion (1300 918 923) and Redy 2Go (1300 246 449). Most bookings are made online and pre-paid. Prices are about $20 to $25 per person.
Companies providing private car transfers to the cruise terminal can be found on the
There are very few rental car companies near the cruise terminal. The closest is the Avis office in the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel (30 Pitt Street, Sydney), about 900 m away.
Operator Wilson Parking offers parking for cruise passengers (from five to 40 days) at three locations near Circular Quay -- Sydney Opera House, Clock Tower in Harrington Street, The Rocks and at Quay West Hotel. Bookings must be made online. The cost is about $27 a day, which is quite high, so taxis or an Uber may be cheaper options.
Mascot-based company Sydney Cruise Ship Parking (32 Ricketty St; 02 9693 1360) offers park and ride services. Passengers park at the Mascot depot and are driven to and from the ship. Prices are around $17.50 a day, including the transfer, and long-term rates are available.
There is no long-term street parking. There is short-term metered street parking near the OPT for those who want to drop off passengers and spend some time with them before they board.
There is a taxi rank at the OPT. Uber is also popular; passengers need to use an app to book an Uber or similar service such as Ola.
Large cruise lines generally have a staggered boarding system and will have alerted passengers to the time they should arrive at the terminal. This is to limit congestion at the check-in desk. Generally, passengers who've booked suites or are members of the cruise line's top loyalty tiers will be given priority boarding. Whatever time is allocated, it is wise to get to the ship at least two hours before it departs.
Most cruise check-ins are done online these days, with passengers issued with a check-in document that they print out at home. They are required to bring this document along with a passport for international cruises and a government-issued ID -- such as a driver's licence -- for a domestic cruise.
Be sure to check your cruise paperwork to make sure you are going to the correct terminal.
In general, the check-in process begins with a security screening before proceeding to check-in counters. Port and cruise staff will then direct you to the appropriate areas for waiting or boarding.
There are no porters working for tips at the OPT. Passengers drop their luggage off as soon as they arrive at the terminal and later board the ship with only their cabin luggage. Arriving passengers can get local information and assistance from Sydney destination ambassadors (dressed in red) at the onsite visitor kiosk.
Passengers requiring wheelchair access should inform the cruise line in advance to make arrangements including an escort through the terminal and boarding process.
There are several takeaway food outlets, cafes and Sydney's oldest pubs in The Rocks, which is an easy walk from the OPT.
There are a handful of high-end venues in the terminal facility itself, such as Cruise Bar, near the luggage drop-off area, and Quay, one of the best restaurants in Australia, at the far end of the building; however, these usually only open for lunch and dinner. Also at the northern end of the terminal is The Squire’s Landing, a James Squire brewhouse specialising in craft beers, wine, burgers and wood-fired steaks. George Street in The Rocks is lined with, cafes and a pizzeria.
Last-minute toiletries are sold at pharmacies in The Rocks and at the Circular Quay ferry terminal.
There is no seating inside the terminal and limited seating outside. There are park benches and lawn areas nearby, but not enough for all embarking passengers.
There are bathrooms in the OPT and in cafes and pubs at The Rocks and in the Circular Quay Railway Station complex.
There is no Wi-Fi at the terminal, however, nearby cafes and bars are likely to have Wi-Fi for their customers.
Passengers arriving at the terminal before the Bag Drop opens can store their luggage at Sydney Baggage Storage (02 9247 1709) located a short distance away (Shop 4, Clocktower, 55 Harrington Street) for a fee. Bookings should be made in advance.
If driving to the terminal or taking a taxi, passengers should allow plenty of time. Sydney is very congested; the streets of The Rocks are narrow, and most cruise check-ins operate during the morning peak. Passengers dropping off passengers cannot linger at the terminal. They must drop off and find parking in a nearby street if they wish to stay in the area.
Updated January 30, 2020