Captain Cook Cruises, Australia

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Captain Cook Cruises
Founded26 January 1970
FounderTrevor Haworth
HeadquartersDarling Harbour, ,
Area served
Sydney Harbour
Murray River
Swan River
ServicesRestaurant, river/harbour cruise & ferry operator
ParentSeaLink Travel Group

Captain Cook Cruises is an Australian cruise operator. As of January 2018, the company operated 21 vessels on Sydney Harbour, providing a range of Government contracted and non-contracted Ferry services, Sightseeing, Dining and Charter Cruises.


Lady Geraldine in 1978

Captain Cook Cruises commenced operating on 26 January 1970 on Port Jackson, Sydney with the Captain Cook, a modified 1943 Fairmile B motor launch. The business was founded by Trevor Haworth taking its name from James Cook who led the first European contact with the East Coast of Australia in 1770.[1][2]

Initially operating charters, on 1 May 1970 regular cruises began operating from Circular Quay to Middle Harbour. In November 1971 a second cruise commenced via the Lane Cove and Parramatta Rivers as far as the Gladesville Bridge.[1]

In August 1975, the custom-built Captain Cook II built by Carrington Slipways, Tomago was commissioned. In August 1978, the Lady Geradline was built by Millkraft Shipyards, Brisbane. This was followed by City of Sydney built by Sims Engineering, Port Chalmers in 1981.[3] In 1978 the original Northbridge marina was sold with a new facility purchased in Neutral Bay.[1]

Captain Cook II

In May 1984, the John Cadman Cruising Restaurant business was purchased. In 1987, Captain Cook Cruises began operating cruises on the Hawkesbury River and Pittwater with the Lady Hawkesbury.[4] In November 1987, the Hegarty Ferries business was purchased from Stannard Bros, primarily to give Captain Cook Cruises exclusive access to wharf 6 at Circular Quay. It operated services to Jeffrey Street, Milsons Point and McMahons Point.[3] In May 1988, the business of Murray River Developments was purchased with the Murray River Queen and Murray Princess on the Murray River and the Brisbane Explorer on the Brisbane River.[1]

In 1991, operations began on the Great Barrier Reef in a joint venture with Qantas.[3][5] The MV Reef Endeavour was ordered, however problems during its construction resulted in the Lady Hawkesbury being transferred from the Hawkesbury River to the Great Barrier Reef as the Reef Escape in July 1992. In turn the Brisbane Explorer was transferred to the Hawkesbury as the Hawkesbury Explorer II. The Reef Endeavour eventually entered service in 1995.[1]

In 1992, the company began operations in Fiji, purchasing Tivua Island, located 18km off the coast of Port Denarau. Sailing Day Cruises were commenced to the island. Reef Escape was relocated to Fiji from the Great Barrier Reef in 1995 and began accommodated cruises through the Yasawa and Mamanuca Islands.

On 7 January 2003, the former Hegarty routes ceased.[6] In November 2005 Matilda Cruises was acquired from Amalgamated Holdings Limited (now Event Hospitality and Entertainment), with 11 vessels.[7][8] In 2011, Captain Cook Cruises was purchased by the SeaLink Travel Group.[9][10][11]



MV Elizabeth Cook in Sydney Harbour, 2013
Jillian approaching Circular Quay, 2017
Sydney 2000
Cockle Bay Tubby

Captain Cook Cruises operate ferry services connecting Sydney Harbour, Darling Harbour, Barangaroo, Circular Quay, Watsons Bay, Manly, the Lane Cove River and White Bay.

The Shark Island and Zoo Express are part of the Hop On Hop Off (HOHO) services which also call at Watsons Bay and Manly. These services will resume during the school holidays on 19 December 2020 after the COVID-19 Pandemic.[12]

Resumption dates for the City Loop (Darling Harbour/Barnagaroo), Luna Park, and Fort Denison services are not yet known. [13]

  • City Loop
  • Shark Island
  • White Bay Only operates on days that there are cruise liners at White Bay. So will not resume until the cruise terminal reopens.
  • Darling Harbour
  • White Bay


Name Builder Year built Notes
Captain Cook I 1943 Fairmile B motor launch formerly named Daydream II, sold to Fiji as Stardust II
Captain Cook II Carrington Slipways, Tomago 1975
Corsair purchased second hand 1976
Lady Geraldine Millkraft Shipyards, Hemmant 1978 named after Trevor Haworth's wife
City of Sydney Sims Engineering, Port Chalmers 1981
John Cadman 1970 purchased with John Cadman Cruising Restaurant business May 1984, rebuilt from burnt out hull of Lady Scott built for Sydney Ferries Limited in 1915, sold as Harbour Queen
John Cadman II Carrington Slipways, Tomago 1986
Leura purchased with Hegarty Ferries business November 1987, sold 2003, named after Leura
Seeka Star 1940 purchased with Hegarty Ferries business November 1987, sold 2003
Twin Star 1972 purchased with Hegarty Ferries business November 1987, sold 2003
Lady Hawkesbury Carrington Slipways, Tomago 1987 transferred from Hawkesbury River to Great Barrier Reef and renamed Reef Escape July 1992
Murray River Queen Hindmarsh Island 1974 purchased with Murray River Developments business May 1988, sold 1993
Murray Princess Hindmarsh Island 1986[18] purchased with Murray River Developments business May 1988
Brisbane Explorer purchased with Murray River Developments business May 1988, transferred from Brisbane River to Hawkesbury River and renamed Hawkesbury Explorer II
John Cadman III Carrington Slipways, Tomago 1989
Captain Cook III Wavemaster, Fremantle 1990
Reef Endeavour Government Shipyard, Suva 1995
Sydney 2000 Austal, Perth 1998
Alice Norman R Wright & Sons, Bulimba 1996 purchased with Matilda Cruises business November 2005[19]
Jillian Norman R Wright & Sons, Bulimba 1996 purchased with Matilda Cruises business November 2005[19]
Megan Norman R Wright & Sons, Bulimba 1996 purchased with Matilda Cruises business November 2005[19]
Elizabeth Cook Richardson Devine Marine, Hobart 2013 named after Elizabeth Cook[20]
Mary Reibey Richardson Devine Marine, Hobart 2014 named after Mary Reibey[21]
Annabelle Rankin Richardson Devine Marine, Hobart 2014 named after Annabelle Rankin[22]
Violet McKenzie Richardson Devine Marine, Hobart 2015 named after Violet McKenzie[23]
Capricorn Sunrise Aluminium Boats Australia, Hemmant 2011 transferred from Gladstone November 2016[24]
Cockle Bay Richardson Devine Marine, Hobart 2016 named after Cockle Bay[25] Leased to RiverCity Ferries together with Blackwattle Bay, White Bay, Pyrmont Bay and Eleanor (the last three not listed here), from November 2020, to operate KittyCat CityHopper and CityFerry services on the Brisbane River.[26][27]
Blackwattle Bay Richardson Devine Marine, Hobart 2016 named after Blackwattle Bay[25]
Nancy Wake Aluminium Marine, Thornlands 2017 named after Nancy Wake[28]


  1. ^ a b c d e Goldsack, Robert (1995). A Silver Jubilee: Captain Cook Cruises. Sydney: Fendwave. ISBN 0 646 19412 7.
  2. ^ Trevor Haworth 1931-2014 Otituary Sydney Morning Herald 10 April 2014
  3. ^ a b c Andrews, Graeme (1994). Ferries of Sydney. Sydney: Sydney University Press. pp. 177–179. ISBN 0 424002 02 7.
  4. ^ Andrews, Graeme (1994). Ferries of Sydney. Sydney: Sydney University Press. pp. 201–202. ISBN 0 424002 02 7.
  5. ^ Luxury cruiser for Qld Canberra Times 17 January 1990 page 4
  6. ^ Hegarty's ferry service Afloat Magazine February 2003
  7. ^ Introducing Matilda Cruises Archived 8 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine Matilda Cruises
  8. ^ Quay Cruises Pty Ltd proposed acquisition of assets of Matilda Cruises Pty Ltd Australian Competition & Consumer Commission 3 November 2005
  9. ^ SeaLink buys Capt Cook Cruises ABC News 25 August 2011
  10. ^ SeaLink acquires Captain Cook Cruises Travel Weekly 25 August 2011
  11. ^ Prospectus Archived 7 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine SeaLink Travel Group 2013
  12. ^ Cruise and Ferry Update Captain Cook Cruises
  13. ^ Timetables - Ferries Commuter | Tourist - Hop On Hop Off Ferry Services Captain Cook Cruises Accessed 6 December 2020
  14. ^ Taronga Zoo Ferry Timetable Captain Cook Cruises 24 December 2010
  15. ^ "Watsons Bay Rocket timetable" (PDF). Captain Cook Cruises.
  16. ^ Watsons Bay finally gets a commuter ferry as Captain Cook Cruises launches private service Wentworth Courier 27 March 2015
  17. ^ "Lane Cove Ferry timetable". Transport for NSW.
  18. ^ Princess takes to the water Victor Harbor Times 4 June 1986 page 1
  19. ^ a b c Vessel Directory Norman R Wright & Sons
  20. ^ RDM059 Elizabeth Cook Richardson Devine Marine
  21. ^ Another New Generation Vessel Joins Captain Cook Cruises Fleet Sealink Travel Group 28 May 2014
  22. ^ Third New Generation Vessel Joins Captain Cook Cruises Fleet Sealink Travel Group 8 July 2014
  23. ^ Fourth New-Generation Ferry for Sydney Harbour Incat Crowther 5 February 2015
  24. ^ SeaLink's super ferry for Sydney Harbour ETB Travel 3 November 2016
  25. ^ a b Captain Cook Cruises adds two new innovative Catamarans to fleet ETB Travel News 20 January 2017
  26. ^ "'KittyCats' to fill in for suspended cross-river ferries awaiting repairs". Brisbane Times. 6 September 2020.
  27. ^ Stone, Lucy (8 October 2020). "Final reports on Brisbane's wooden ferries delayed". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  28. ^ Captain Cook Cruises puts new Sydney catamaran ferry Nancy Wake into service Baird Maritime 15 December 2017

External links[edit]

Media related to Captain Cook Cruises at Wikimedia Commons