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Enjoying City Sightseeing’s delightful Harbour Cruise around the V&A Waterfront
On a swelteringly hot Sunday this December, when the V&A Waterfront was positively buzzing with people, I made my way over to the City Sightseeing ticket office (near the Two Oceans Aquarium), eager to start my first Harbour Cruise.
Once there, I asked a red bus team member whether the cruise was sheltered, given that it was pretty hot outside.
In reply she said, “Yes, it is, ma’am,” before asking me with a wry smile, “Are you from Cape Town? Because it gets much hotter than this!” We laughed before I said goodbye and made for the departure point (stop 1), with my earphones (used for the audio commentary, which is available in 15 different languages) and ticket in hand.
You can buy your tickets online, from the ticket office or on the boat before the cruise departs.
The Waterfront Harbour Cruise departs from and returns to one of several jetties below the Two Oceans Aquarium, taking guests on a 25- to 30-minute cruise around the Victoria and Alfred basins of the Waterfront.
Although it runs regularly – departing every 20 minutes from September through to May (from 9am to5pm, with extra departures during spring and summer) – it is important to remember that if the weather is bad, the Waterfront’s Port Control will notify City Sightseeing and operations will be suspended..
I couldn’t have asked for more perfect summer weather for my cruise, and our boat (which did indeed have a lovely roof sheltering us from the sun) filled up quickly with couples and young families.
The tour is affordable and fun for the whole family, and kids will love seeing the different sights, seabirds, seals and perhaps the odd sunfish or two!
What’s more, there is even a fun children’s audio channel (which you can find by tuning to “KID”) available, as well as life jackets on board, which will definitely appeal to the kids in addition to providing added safety). This is education at its most enjoyable, refreshing and fun best.
We soon pushed off from the jetty and glided out into the greater harbour expanse. Along the way, we passed the Cape Grace Hotel (and discovered how it was architecturally fashioned after a ship) and private yachts, before passing under the southern hemisphere’s largest synchrolift and only drawbridge, known as the Bascule Bridge.
We also passed the Nelson Mandela Gateway, Chavonnes Battery Museum and the famous cherry-red Clock Tower.
From there, we went out into the harbour proper, where we saw the soon-to-be-opened Zeitz MOCCA Museum and the Silo Hotel glinting proudly in the sunlight, and some factories too, as a friendly seal lazily waved a flipper at us.
Despite the heat of the day, we were wonderfully cool and refreshed on board. I particularly enjoyed the boat’s gentle motion, the way the water churned up alongside us when we weren’t stationary, and the fresh salt breeze blowing across us.
The highlight for me was when our excellent captain, Shaun, edged our boat up alongside a pair of sunfish so that we could see these amazing, placid fish up close. Adults and children alike were filled with great excitement as we craned our necks to get a better view.
Shaun explained to us that a sunfish, up to 2m long, had been spotted in the harbour. He told us that sunfish are the one of the gentlest fish you are likely to encounter. He also said he had not often seen two in the harbour at the same time, so we felt truly blessed to have experienced them.
We then circled around closer to Quay Four, where we could see the harbour-facing restaurants, amphitheatre area and crowds, all of whom appeared to be enjoying a relaxed Sunday out.
Once there, it was time to make our way back to the jetty as our cruise drew to an end.
The Waterfront Harbour Cruise is a fun, invigorating and informative cruise that allows you to see the world-famous V&A Waterfront and Cape Town Harbour with fresh eyes, as some of the Mother City’s finest landmarks, like Table Mountain and Lion’s Head, look on.
It is a cruise to be enjoyed equally by children and adults, and makes for a great family day out, or even a pleasant end to a shopping trip to the V&A Waterfront.
Make sure you hop on this awesome cruise soon!
Waterfront Harbour Cruise tickets cost R40 for adults and R20 for children, and are discounted online.