UPDATED INFO (December 2013) at my new website: www.whitebaysydney.com
Lost? Confused? Welcome to the fun of cruising from Sydney – finding the bloody ship.
WHITE BAY CRUISE TERMINAL
Let’s get this straight. The new White Bay facility is near Rozelle and Balmain, which are residential suburbs outside the city, without a train station, direct bus stop or nearby hotels. No. You are NOT departing from the world’s best port opposite the Sydney Opera House. Bless you and your poor family!
So, now you want to know how to get to an area that even the locals don’t know about? Now that’s what I call travelling!
CRUISIN’…IN YOUR CAR
I’ve lived in Sydney since 1974 and I can’t tell you how to get to Rozelle, let alone White Bay. According to the Sydney Ports Corporation (who we can thank for this adventure-travel destination), entry to the terminal is off James Craig Road, Rozelle. Whack that in your GPS and go.
Now, go away. This blog is to help people using public transport and/or flying in from other states or countries.
TRAIN TO NOT-VERY-CENTRAL
The cheapest option is the train. The two nearest (and I use that term loosely) stations to White Bay are Town Hall and Central. Neither are walking distance, even if you are Jane Saville. From Central, a cab will cost around $25-$30. In bad traffic (which happens often in Sydney!) don’t be surprised if the meter ticks over $40.
UPDATE 23/10/13: P&O has introduced a shuttle from Central to White Bay for $15 per person one-way. The problem is, that’s more expensive than a taxi if there’s 2, 3 or 4 people travelling together. But at least it’s a flat fee, regardless of traffic jams. To book, call the Customer Service team on 13 24 94 (within Australia) or 0800 780 716 (NZ).
For details, see http://the.cruiseylife.com/new-shuttle-from-central-to-white-bay/
CHEAPEST TAXI FROM CITY
If you would rather get a taxi from the city, the closest train station to White Bay is Town Hall. Compared to Central, Town Hall is also better because the driving route skips the worst of Sydney’s CBD traffic. I paid $19, but others have said they got there for $17. It should take less than 10 minutes.
Here’s the trick: after you exit the station on George St, walk over to Druitt Street to hail a cab, because that’s where the traffic is moving in the right direction for White Bay – you just go straight over Anzac Bridge… and voila! The driver will turn LEFT off the bridge and then follow the signs along the new, wiggly roads down to the terminal (about another 5 minutes drive).
THE BUS, REALLY?
OK, now you’re scraping the bottom of the Barry O’Farrell [barrel]. But if you insist, my dear cruisers, you can catch a 441 or 442 from behind the Queen Victoria Building (York Street). Coming by train to get the bus? Get off at Town Hall, then walk 5-10 minutes to the bus stop. This is no good if you have a lot of luggage. This is a public bus full of people who are NOT going on cruises.
The nearest (and again I use that term loosely) public bus stop to White Bay is Roberts Street, Rozelle. It’s really not close to the terminal at all, about 3km (2 miles), so be prepared for a LONG, very unromantic walk. With a suitcase and/or kids, forget it. Cough up for a cab. (I’m seriously starting to wonder if Sydney Ports Corp owns Taxis Combined…)
Ahhh, doesn’t Pacific Pearl look so pretty in the sunrise? Who said White Bay was ugly? Stay with me, cruisers, we’ll get there!
Want to play on public transport all day? Ride the light rail machine! You can catch it from Central and get off at the Rozelle Bay stop. But honestly, don’t even think about it. The only time this is a good idea is if you’re travelling with someone who you’re secretly hoping will miss the ship.
When I asked Carnival Australia about public transport, they actually replied: “The options are to take a taxi to/from White Bay terminal or to organise a drop-off/pick-up by family or friends.” Yup. That’s the official word, my friends. But don’t blame P&O or Princess – it’s the NSW Government’s Sydney Ports who made this planning decision.
So if you are an interstate or international visitor, you better start making friends on your flight! And if you live in Sydney but your mates are all busy working 9-5 and couldn’t care less that you are struggling to get to your tropical holiday, then good luck with that.
Another idea for Sydneysiders is to self-drive to the city and leave your car in a long-term parking lot – then it is happily waiting for you when you return to Sydney. There is NO long-term parking at White Bay. They’re sure not making this easy for you, am I right?!
Wilson’s Harbourside car park (100 Murray Street, Pyrmont – yay, another suburb to explore!) does a deal for cruise passengers. It’s not a great deal if your cruise is only 3 days, or even 7 days, because the minimum purchase is 10 days. But I’m sure they’ll take your money and let you collect your car a week early. The good news (yesssss – found some) is that the car park is slightly closer to White Bay than the old Wharf 5 at Barangaroo. Which means the taxi from the car park to the ship will cost a few dollars less. Expect to pay about $15 cab fare from the parking lot.
CAR PARKING COSTS
As of 9 October 2013, Cruise Parking fees at Wilsons Harbourside are $15 per 24 hours (minimum purchase 10 days = $150).
So what’s cheaper – drive and park or get a taxi? I’ve done the maths for you. If you live close enough, within an $80 taxi ride, it would be cheaper to catch cabs both ways than to drive and pay for long-term parking. Don’t forget you still have to get a taxi from Wilsons, over the Anzac Bridge, to White Bay – and back again after your cruise.
HOTELS NEAR WHITE BAY
People flying in to Sydney the day before can book a hotel near White Bay. When someone builds one. Rozelle is not a tourist destination (wait, what?!) despite being Australia’s newest cruising destination.
The closest hotels to White Bay are in Darling Harbour, kinda where they left the old cruise terminal (doh!!).
TAXI FROM THE AIRPORT
A taxi from the airport will cost around $50, depending on traffic.
The airport is 17km (11 miles), around a 30-minute drive away from White Bay. P&O has a coach transfer from Sydney Airport to White Bay and back again for $22. You can book directly through the cruise line or your travel agent.
WHITE BAY SHUTTLES
After your cruise, if you’re getting the train home, P&O also operates coach transfers from White Bay to Central train station for $12 per person. These transfers can only be booked onboard the ship. An order form is delivered automatically to all cabins – the $12pp is added to your account that you pay on the last day of the cruise.
Just to be clear, there is absolutely NO shuttle or coach transfer from Central (or ANY train station) TO White Bay. Shuttles are only from the AIRPORT. There is a shuttle from White Bay TO Central Station but NOT from Central TO White Bay. So, train travellers, on your way TO your cruise, you’re on your own, sunshine!
Note to anyone looking for a lucrative business idea: Start up a shuttle bus from Central to White Bay. No-brainer money-spinner.
GET A DRIVER/TRANSFER/CAR SERVICE
Another way to get to OR from White Bay, from the airport, train station or your house in Sydney/NSW, is to get a transfer by mini-bus, van or car with a driver who picks you up at an agreed time. This can work out much cheaper than a taxi and is obviously much easier than public transport. Split the cost with friends or family in your area. For a list of services, click on Cruisey Life’s other White Bay blog.
SHIP HAPPENS… AND THEN YOU CRUISE!
Did you find it? Congratulations. Breathe. Drink. The worst of your travels are over and now you can let the Captain worry about the rest of the trip. That’s one positive: all the hassle by planes, trains, buses, shuttles, cars and taxis will totally highlight the simplicity of cruising. Ohhhh, I get it now, Sydney Ports. Genius. Thank you for the journey.
By Louise Goldsbury