So we’ve booked a 6-night cruise with Princess cruises in October from Sydney to Tasmania and back. A few days later we were looking at our itinerary and noticed that it departs from the White Bay Cruise Terminal, not Darling Harbour.
Interesting, we didn’t know there was another cruise terminal, but that said we went to the Sydney Tower Buffet a few weeks beforehand and had noticed a cruise ship berthed on the other side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, so we thought perhaps that was it.
After looking at their website and doing a bit of searching online, we discovered that it is located here, near Balmain:
Which seems like the middle of nowhere as far as transport options.
Initially, we thought perhaps we could get some combination of public transport there from Pennant Hills, be it train, bus, ferry etc to the Darling St/Ewenton St bus stop below and then walk down Ewenton St to the terminal:
But after trying to get Sydney’s public transport route calculator to suggest how I might achieve that, it couldn’t come up within anything. A little investigation on Google Street View also made evident that one cannot access the terminal from Ewenton St anyway. You have to come in via James Craig Road. So the closest bus stop is actually on Robert St near Victoria Rd. Given that, I considered the cost of getting four people there and upon considering who would be travelling with us I decided it may be a lot easier and cheaper to pay for long-term parking or hire a car.
Long Term Parking and Car Hire / Go Get
It turns out though that as Balmain is a residential suburb, there are no long-term parking stations and there are no depots for car hire companies nearby at all. You have to go all the way around to Pyrmont for your closest options and get a taxi from there! There is, however, a Go Get car share pod a couple of blocks further up on Donnelly St as below, I thought this may have solved the dilemma:
My theory here was we could pick up the car that morning, or even the day before, then drop everyone off at the terminal with our bags, leave the car at the pod and walk a couple of blocks back. Should only take me 20 minutes or so.
As I mentioned earlier, I decided to check the terminal out on Google Street View. Turns out, Grafton St is actually above the terminal and there is a large, impassable fence. You have to actually go around to Robert St and onto James Craig Rd!
Which is what Google Maps was trying to tell me all along anyway. I did however discover that there is another Go Get pod on the corner of Robert St, closer for walking, about a 15 minute walk I’d say after dropping everyone off at the terminal.
So this is the option that I was basically leaning towards.
Taxi vs Go Get
I had never really considered taking a taxi, in my recent Sydney taxi experience it has always ended up being a costly mistake and pickups at our address have been unbelievably unreliable. Doing a quick check on TaxiFare though showed that a taxi would cost an estimated $70-$100.
Go Get would depend whether I got it the day before or in the morning, but it was still going to come in at around $70-$100 as a casual user anyway once you add the $49 annual fee (assuming I won’t use it again this year to split the fee cost).
Keeping in mind the nearest bus stop is actually even further away than this Go Get pod, it would seem that a taxi is the easier option, though it almost definitely will wind up costing a bit more, and that’s assuming they actually turn up to pick us up at the time we book them for, or even turn up at all as has been my experience before when booking a taxi in Sydney. The other possibility is either a transfer/limo service, a premium valet service, or an Uber.
These are the only options for getting to White Bay Cruise Terminal beside airport shuttles, so if you are concerned about transport, be aware of this when booking a Sydney cruise, you may not leave from Circular Quay and you may have the nightmare that is getting to White Bay Cruise Terminal.
Shuttles and Valet Services
Princess does offer a paid airport shuttle/transfer service, but it seems a bit redundant to drive to the airport, pay for the parking there or alternatively pay for the train there for 4 people and then pay to take a shuttle back to White Bay. It’d take half the day up on both departure and return. I understand P&O does now offer a shuttle from the Sydney CBD, but again, the cost of getting there plus the cost of the shuttle all seems a bit too much hassle.
I have found a few options for transfer/valet services as below that we may yet consider:
- Sydney City Shuttle
- Offers shuttle services from North West Sydney.
- Quotes $90 for 4 people from Pennant Hills.
- Mascot Parking Services
- Offers a valet service from the White Bay Cruise Terminal.
- Your car is picked up after you get out and then stored in their car park at Mascot near the airport. It is then returned to you after your cruise arrives back at the terminal.
- Their website is a bit confusing, but assuming I’m reading it right, it quotes $90 return to provide a standard valet service to the White Bay Cruise Terminal or $180 for a deluxe service (I’m not entirely sure what the difference is).
For those travelling from Canberra, it’s worth noting that Murrays offers a very frequent and cost-effective coach from Canberra CBD to Sydney Airport and Central Station, so it lines up perfectly with the shuttle services offered by Princess and P&O Cruises. Read my review here.
In the end we actually went with an Uber. There were no Uber X vehicles in the area when we booked so we got an Uber Black, though that was probably a good thing since we had four people in the car. It cost us $124.00 from Pennant Hills to the White Bay Terminal, so a little more than what TaxiFare and the Sydney City Shuttle quoted, or what GoGet would have been, but for the convenience it was a better option than GoGet, for ease of booking it was simpler than the shuttle, and for the reliability it was a better option than a taxi. That said, the cheapest option seems to be the Sydney City Shuttle.