January 20, 2017

SeaLink Travel Group unveiled their new twin passenger catamarans, “MV Blackwattle Bay” and “MV Cockle Bay” at a christening ceremony in Darling Harbour recently.

Business Events Sydney Chief Executive, Lyn Lewis-Smith officially launched the vessels in the traditional maritime way, breaking a champagne bottle across the bow. Ms Lewis-Smith said “Congratulations to BESydney’s partner, Captain Cook Cruises on a dedicated Sydney ferry route for conference delegates. I am honoured to take part in the launch of the two new vessels that will make our city even more accessible for visitors and locals alike.”

Christening Blessing

Christening Blessing

The two catamarans, which were designed in Sydney by Incat Crowther and built in Tasmania by Richardson Devine Marine, are the first of their kind to join the Captain Cook Cruises Sydney Harbour fleet. These12 meter boats have the capacity to carry 60 passengers and with their innovative design and light weight, are highly maneuverable. They are low wash and like the rest of the fleet are fuel efficient, eco-friendly and equipped with the latest technologies to reduce their carbon footprint.

Jeff Ellison, Lyn Lewis-Smith & Anthony Haworth

Jeff Ellison, Lyn Lewis-Smith & Anthony Haworth

According to Managing Director, SeaLink Travel Group, Jeff Ellison “At a time when Sydney’s road congestion is creating significant challenges for both government and commuters, “MV Blackwattle Bay” and “MV Cockle Bay” will offer a welcome solution, opening new inner city routes and offering regular high speed travel to commuters. These twin boats will also operate services for Captain Cook’s Hop On Hop Off, White Bay ferry service and act as a regular transport service for conference delegates to the new International Convention Centre, providing them with easy access between Darling Harbour and Circular Quay.”

Sandra Tiltman.  Photos: John Pond/SeaLink



July 26, 2014

Capt CookMurray Princess

Discover the beauty, history and culture of the Murray River between Mannum and Blanchetown, South Australia while sailing on board Captain Cook Cruises’ paddlewheeler “Murray Princess”.

The four night cruise takes you past picturesque scenery as you cruise at a leisurely pace along the Mighty Murray. Sitting in the spacious glass walled lounge at the aft of the ship, you become mesmerised, watching the giant paddlewheel turn.

The “Murray Princess” cruises past towering red limestone cliffs, through ancient gorges and along riverbanks lined with mallee scrub and red gum forests. Each day features exciting day trips to historic river ports, Aboriginal archaeological sites, a working sheep station and woolshed, a native wildlife shelter and vineyard and cellar door tasting.

A special four night Murray River Celebrity Cook Cruise, departing Monday, 9 March 2015 will see MasterChef winner, Julie Goodwin, on board “Murray Princess” for her third cruise, working with Captain Cook Cruises. Julie will be holding three cooking demonstrations on board and hosting a three course dinner for passengers. The dinner menu will be selected by Julie and prepared by the Captain Cook Cruises’ kitchen.

Julie Goodwin low res imageJulie first hosted a specialist cruise with Captain Cook Cruises in 2013 and again this year. She is looking forward to the cruise saying “I had such a great time cooking on “Murray Princess”, when I was asked to do a third cooking cruise I immediately said yes. I’m looking forward to meeting even more passengers on this cruise and having a lot of fun cooking in the kitchen with them. I also can’t wait to return to the beautiful Murray River.

Richard Doyle, Head of Sales and Marketing at Captain Cook Cruises said “Past passengers made it very clear how much they loved Julie’s food and wanted her to return. The opportunity to meet and chat informally with Julie throughout the cruise was a major highlight.”

The cruise includes all meals, accommodation, three cooking demonstrations by Julie Goodwin, a hosted dinner with Julie, Captain’s dinner, most tours, scenic coach transfers from Adelaide or onsite car parking and all facilities on board, including the use of spa, sauna, gym, sun deck, two bars, two lounges, single sitting dining saloon and entertainment.

If four nights is not long enough, why not extend to seven nights, by including the three night Discovery Cruise departing Friday 6 March 2015 which includes a free Barossa Valley day tour

Julie Goodwin became the first winner of MasterChef in 2009. Viewers loved her honesty, sense of humour and humble cooking style. When her first cookbook, Our Family Table, was published, Julie became one of Australia’s best selling authors; her book held the number one slot in the book charts for over ten weeks. In 2012, Julie dusted off her MasterChef apron for charity in MasterChef AllStars, raising an incredible $15,000 for Oxfam in the process. Julie writes a regular column in Australian Women’s Weekly and released her latest cookbook Gather in March 2013, which celebrates the family focused style of cooking she loves. Her next book is due out in October 2014.

Sandra Tiltman


July 9, 2014


The recent launch in Sydney of “Annabelle Rankin” has added a third, state of the art $2.6 million Rocket catamaran, to Captain Cook Cruises’ fleet. Designed in Sydney by Incat Crowther and built in Tasmania by Richardson Devine Marine, thisnew generation, 24 metre Rocket catamaran isfuel efficient, eco-friendly and equipped with the latest technologies to reduce her carbon footprint.

Destination New South Wales, Chief Executive Officer, Sandra Chipchase officially launched “Annabelle Rankin” in the traditional maritime way of breaking a champagne bottle across the bow, to the cheers and applause of those standing on the dock.

At the conclusion of the official duties, up came the gangway and “Annabelle Rankin” sailed from her dock at King Street Wharf. As we sailed under the Harbour Bridge, past the Opera House and out into the Harbour, I was delighted to join, with other guests at the launch, in toasting “Annabelle Rankin” with champagne and canapés. While we enjoyed the sunny morning sitting out on the deck, we were able to experience “Annabelle Rankin” going through her paces and I am sure this new red Rocket will be a welcome addition to the fleet.

The vessel is named after one of Australia’s pioneer stateswomen, Dame Annabelle Rankin (1908-1986). Dame Annabelle claimed a number of firsts in Australian government including the first female federal minister. She was also the first female federal opposition whip in the British Commonwealth (1951-66), the first female head of a diplomatic mission, as high commissioner to New Zealand (1971- 74) and the first Queensland female to enter federal politics as a senator for the state (1946-71). In 1957 she was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for political and public services.

“Annabelle Rankin” will join her sister vessels, “Elizabeth Cook” and “Mary Reibey” on Sydney Harbour. The two level catamaran has a main passenger cabin with seats for 116 passengers and a further 31 seats located on the lower outside deck. Upstairs an open upper deck has seating for 51 passengers, providing ample space for passengers to stand and view the sights.

Sandra Chipchase, CEO, Destination NSW

Sandra Chipchase, CEO, Destination NSW

Contracted to Harbour City Ferries (Sydney Ferries) until June 2017, “Annabelle Rankin” will be providing ferry charter services.

Jeff Ellison, Managing Director of SeaLink Travel Group, said this third new vessel was part of the company’s plan to be a major charter operator on Sydney Harbour.Mr Ellison commented that these new rockets offer a fast service and a high level of comfort for passengers including large viewing windows, contemporary seating and a 360 degree viewing sundeck.

One of Australia’s most dynamic tourism and transport operators, Adelaide based SeaLink Travel Group, has undergone a remarkable period of growth. Their operations extend across New South Wales (Captain Cook Cruises), Queensland (SeaLink Queensland), Northern Territory (SeaLink NT) and South Australia (Kangaroo Island SeaLink).

SeaLink has commissioned a fourth state of the art catamaran, which is due to arrive in Sydney Harbour in December 2014.

Sandra Tiltman.


June 29, 2014

WHALES off Sydney Harbour

Over the last few years, increasing numbers of whales have decided to take a detour into Sydney Harbour during their annual migration up and down the east coast of Australia.

The 2014 Whale Watching season that commenced on 17 May is no exception to previous years. Whales making their way north to the warmer waters for their breeding season, have been entering Sydney Harbour and sighted close to Manly, to the joy of everyone lucky enough to witness the spectacle.

For all those who want to get up close to the whales as they continue their journey up the coast, the best way is to take a whale watching cruise. These cruises provide an opportunity to experience the thrill of seeing these elegant creatures blowing a spout of water as they come to the surface and then dive back under the water.

I recently decided to become a tourist in my own city and headed down to Sydney’s Circular Quay where I joined Captain Cook Cruises’ afternoon whale watching cruise that departed at 1.30 pm. I was told all their whale watching cruises come with a whale guarantee and that if a whale was not spotted, all passengers would be offered the opportunity to cruise again for free. I knew I could not go wrong with a guarantee like that.

See Whales on Captain Cook Cruises Whale watching CruisesOnce on board, I headed up to the open top deck of the large modern ocean-going catamaran to find a seat. After leaving Circular Quay and passing the Opera House, we headed for Taronga Zoo, where we picked up more passengers as well as our informative guide Mel, who also worked at the zoo as a marine expert.

The catamaran then sailed out of Sydney Harbour and through the heads to open waters, where we were all eager to catch a glimpse of our first whale in its natural environment. As we looked, Mel’s commentary taught us just about everything there was to know about the whales, which we were soon to see. There was great excitement when the first whale spout was seen, with everyone having their cameras ready when it appeared out of the water, before diving back under again, providing a magnificent view of its large tail. This first sighting was quickly followed by a pair of whales swimming side by side, staying in view for quite a while, as our boat followed their progress up the coast.

Most whales are found within 2kms of the shore. The majority of whales seen along the New South Wales coast are Humpback and Southern Right Whales, with the occasional sighting of Killer and Minke whales.

The cruise returned to Circular Quay at 4.15 pm. The Sydney whale watching season goes through to16 November 2014 after the whales head back down the coast with their calves.

Sandra Tiltman


May 22, 2014

Vivid Sydney 2012 - Captain Cook cruises

Sydney is ready to be transformed after dark, when Vivid lights up the city at 6pm to midnight each evening from 23 May to 9 June 2014. This unique free annual event of light, music and ideas, as well as outdoor lighting sculptures, promises to be even bigger and better than previous years.

Vivid brings many of our harbour city’s buildings to life with spectacular illuminations. Over the last couple of years, the sails of the Sydney Opera House have starred as a blank canvas for the projections, along with many of the buildings around Circular Quay and the Rocks.

As Vivid has grown over the years, many more buildings around the city have been included in the illuminated displays, such as Martin Place in the centre of the city and Darling Harbour. For the first time this year, many of the harbour’s cruise vessels, ferries and water taxis will be adorned with lights that change colour as they move into different sections of the harbour.

Attracting not only locals and visitors from inter-state, the word has now spread around the world. Vivid has become a major drawcard for overseas tourists, who are coming to Sydney, just to see this event. In previous years, the beginning of winter and cold nights saw a dwindling in tourism numbers, but this trend, thanks to Vivid, has been reversed

Vivid 2013 Concept DrawingsDuring Vivid, Captain Cook Cruises is offering a variety of ferry and dining cruises so passengers can see the city come alive, in a spectacular array of lights and projections across Sydney’s most famous landmarks. Cruises have been specially designed to complement the Vivid Light walk with over 60 interactive light installations from Sydney Cove, through The Rocks to Walsh Bay and Darling Harbour.

Captain Cook Cruises’ Head of Sales and Marketing, Richard Doyle commented “For the first time the harbour itself will become a canvas for brightly lit vessels that change colour as they cruise. The best place to see the harbour and the full display of lights and projections on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and on landmark buildings along the harbour foreshore is from the water”.

Cruises have been specially designed to complement the Vivid Light walk with over 60 interactive light installations from Sydney Cove, through The Rocks to Walsh Bay and Darling Harbour.

Vivid Light also features huge 3D digital mapping projections and lighting displays across city scrapes and landmark buildings including the Museum of Contemporary Art and Customs House.

Diners on the 5pm Vivid Dinner and Drinks Cruise which departs nightly from Jetty 6, Circular Quay will enjoy the spectacular moment as the Vivid lights turn on at 6pm. The cruise includes a delicious two course meal, plus an open bar of Tyrrell’s house sparkling or still wines, beer and soft drinks. After disembarking at Circular Quay, on the doorstep of the Vivid Light walk at 6.30pm, diners can immerse themselves in the amazing light installations.

To enhance the Vivid experience, representatives from Canon Australia will be around the Light Walk area to help answer any photographic questions.

Sandra Tiltman


December 2, 2013

Elizabeth Cook 009

If you notice a new shiny red catamaran around Sydney Harbour, its Elizabeth Cook, the latest vessel to join Captain Cook Cruises Sydney Harbour Fleet. Named after Captain James Cook’s wife, she is SeaLink Travel Group’s new $2.6 million state of the art catamaran and first true multi-purpose boat, allowing her to operate in all corners of Sydney Harbour.

Lucy Hughes Turnbull, Chair – The Committee for Sydney, officially launched Elizabeth Cook recently in the traditional maritime way, breaking a champagne bottle across the bow, after a blessing by Father Dooley.

Designed in Sydney by Incat Crowther and built in Tasmania by Richardson Devine Marine, this new generation 24metre Rocket catamaran was designed to be eco-friendly and more fuel efficient, equipped with the latest technologies that will help reduce her carbon footprint.

Featuring two levels, the main passenger cabin has seats for 116 passengers with a further 31 seats located on the lower outside deck, while the open upper deck seats 51. There is also ample space for passengers to stand and view the sights. Elizabeth Cook will operate as a ferry, transfer service and host sightseeing cruises, especially the popular Hop On Hop Off service almost immediately. She will also be used to host charters and corporate events.

Managing Director, SeaLink Travel Group, Jeff Ellison said the company was very excited to have built a new vessel for Sydney Harbour. “We believe this is a prototype for the future. As well as being eco-friendly and cost efficient Elizabeth Cook offers a new level of comfort including large windows, a professional marine interior and a 360-degree viewing sundeck” Mr Ellison said.

Sandra Tiltman