9 Tips For Doing The Sunset River Cruise In Brisbane
Thinking about booking the Sunset River Cruise in Brisbane, but unsure if it’s worth it? Or maybe you’re looking for more things to do in Brisbane looking for some inspiration?
For a city that’s so dependent on its river, what’s a Brisbane river cruise really like? Is it a tour just for tourists? Is it worth it for a long-term local? Should you take your out-of-town guests?
If you’re thinking of cruising down the Brisbane River, then let the crew at River City Cruises take care of you. Jump aboard my honest review and find out everything you should know about a Brisbane sunset river cruise!
1. What’s included in a Brisbane sunset river cruise?
There are a few Brisbane cruises to choose from, including the City Cat public transport ferry. Even as a long-time local, I wondered to myself why I had never thought to go on a Brisbane river cruise before.
I’ve seen lots of Brisbane River boat cruise options around this region. For example, you can take daily cruises to Moreton Bay to see marine life, Gold Coast for a whale watching day tour, dinner cruises, or hire a tour boat cruise for a private function.
My top pick is the company called River City Cruises. This fun crew offer a range of tour cruises, but a sunset cruise along the beautiful Brisbane River is an absolute stand-out.
This Sunset Brisbane River Cruise offers a relaxing, friendly and safe boat tour. This isn’t a party boat or a luxury sail — it’s more of a laid-back sightseeing cruise past Brisbane’s distinctive river scene. This Brisbane cruise has cocktail food included in the tickets, a bangin’ soundtrack, and a range of drinks available for purchase.
There are so many fantastic photo opportunities as you cruise past Brisbane’s iconic sights.
The view of the city lights as the sun goes down really sets the scene for an amazing evening in Brisbane.
While I went on the sunset to night cruise, you should also check out their Morning Tea Cruise with Devonshire Tea, or their Lunch Cruise day tour offering which drops you at the Breakfast Creek Hotel for a delicious lunch at this historic pub. All of these options are a fantastic way to spend time with friends or join your visiting guests.
2. Best time of year to go
The weather in Brisbane is pretty great for year round cruises. The natural beauty of Brisbane, including the surrounding region such as Moreton Bay Marine Park and the islands, is ideal for sightseeing from the water.
I would make a booking to go on a sunny or overcast day, though a very light rain would also be okay. The boat has different undercover areas to suit all weather, and you can always bring a jacket if you think you might get cold as you sail down the river.
3. What to bring with you
Bring your sunglasses, a jacket, and your phone or camera to take photos. If you’re extremely sensitive to water/motion, best to take sea sickness tablets.
Bring your wallet to purchase drinks on board. There was a really good selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks in their fully licensed bar, and extra snacks if the cocktail food provided isn’t enough.
Brisbane sunset cruise full breakdown
Wondering what the boat tours actually look like? Here’s what to expect.
4. Arrival and departure location is really convenient
The cultural centre public pontoon is your arrival point for the sightseeing cruise. It’s just in front of the Queensland museum which is so convenient and easy to find.
It’s an easy walk from the bus or train, or a taxi or rides hare drop-off point is about 50 metres away. This makes it so convenient for your dinner reservation afterwards, as the cruise arrives back exactly on time. Just make sure you arrive early because the boat departs right on time.
5. Arrive early to get the best seat
As you arrive onto the River City Cruises boat — the MV Neptune — you’ll be greeted by one of their friendly crew. All the crew on board were enthusiastic, fun, and wanted to make sure everyone had an awesome time.
The boat is actually over two levels. Both levels have plenty of tables and seating, and every seat is guaranteed to have a view.
As soon as you get on, there are two tables and bench seating at the very back of the boat. This would be the place to sit if you have accessibility requirements.
The best spot for the iconic sights is up on the top deck. There are about five steep stairs up so it’s not fully accessible for those that need extra requirements. The top deck is undercover, and open at the sides, meaning you get the great breezes in summer and even better unobstructed views on board.
There’s also an enclosed cabin downstairs. This is where the fully licensed bar, and the male and female bathrooms are. This level has windows on all sides that you can open and close yourself so you can still enjoy the breezes and the views.
6. Take a seat and relax
Once you’re on board and seated, all the tables already have the snacks dished out. You’ll find classic cocktail food from Australia such as cheddar cheese, crackers, dip, kabana, grapes, celery and carrot sticks.
There isn’t a full lunch or dinner provided, but you can definitely ask the friendly crew for some more snacks for your table. There are also crisps available to purchase at the bar.
Drinks aren’t included in the tickets, however they are priced decently. You’ll find an impressive range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to choose from. The cruise also offers a fun soundtrack to your evening with 90s and 2000s rock classics.
The wine glasses are actually reusable plastic ones with labels that ask you not to throw them out. It’s so refreshing to see companies like this take sustainability seriously.
7. Take in the city views
The cruise sets off slowly from South Brisbane, and goes up the river towards the Brisbane CBD. The boat meanders along the calm river, giving you loads of time to take photos of the landmarks.
Brisbane’s distinctive river scene includes sights such as the Wheel of Brisbane in South Brisbane, Treasury Casino, Story Bridge, Howard Smith Wharves, Kangaroo Point cliffs, and the city skyline. Plus it’s great for spotting the mansions along the river.
The boat goes as far east as New Farm and Hawthorne before it turns around to head back towards the cultural centre pontoon. By this time, the sun has set and the building lights are shining bright.
It’s a really spectacular sight to see, particularly as the boat goes slowly under the lit up Story Bridge. Depending on what time of year you visit, the bridge is lit up in different colours to signify a certain day or month – such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Prevention Month or Christmas.
8. Would I do the cruise again?
Yes! A Brisbane River Cruise Tour is a really enjoyable way to explore Australia. The backdrop of the city skyline, a drink in hand, while cruising on the river is my idea of a fantastic evening with friends. And a great way to get to know and visit Brisbane, for both locals and newcomers.
There are so many fantastic photo opportunities to the backdrop of the skyscraper lights. An evening tour along Brisbane’s riverfront is an activity that I’d highly recommend to anyone in Australia.
The team at River City Cruises offers year round cruises, and watching the sun set over the water and skyline was highly memorable. The team were so friendly and even offered everyone chocolates as we disembarked.
I think this is one of the best boat tours to take with a group of friends, or a special someone, and would be fantastic for visitors. Next time, I would be sure to arrive early to get the best seats on the top deck, bring a jacket, and make a dinner reservation afterwards.
9. What to do after you finish the cruise in South Bank
The cruise docks at the Cultural Centre public pontoon right on time after the 90 minute cruise. This means that you can make a dinner reservation in advance because you know you’ll be there on time.
There are a huge range of options for pre and post Brisbane river cruise eating and drinking. Check out our guide for Hidden Restaurants In Brisbane Only Locals Know About before making plans. But, to give you a heads head, South Bank cultural precinct and Fish Lane are two of the closest areas with a bunch of dining options.
In Fish Lane, I’d recommend Julius Pizzeria and Chu the Phat for dinner, followed by the hidden cocktail bar Next Episode or the inner city oasis at Southside.
In South Bank, you can’t go past classics such as Ahmets Turkish, Charming Squire or Olé Restaurant, followed by dessert at Cowch and a drink with live music at The Plough Inn.
No matter where you decide to dine in South Brisbane, you’ll not be disappointed with the huge range of options.
Have you read our other Brisbane Guides yet?
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