Ever wanted to experience sailing on an authentic pirate ship, and observe nature’s most majestic creatures up close? Well, now you can with Sydney Tall Ships!

This year from May to November, more than 40,000 whales – mostly Humpbacks, and Southern Right Whales – travel along Sydney’s coastline to migrate from Antarctica to the Great Barrier Reef’s warmer waters.

By the end of June and the beginning of July, these whales can be sighted swimming a little closer to the shoreline, making this situation the perfect chance to view them up close and personal!

While there are already some great vantage points to watch the whales from afar, we believe nothing will ever beat seeing whales breach on the decks, the bow, or even the mast of Sydney Tall Ships’ Coral Trekker.

Why Do Whales Migrate?

If you haven’t heard of this yet, this whale migration event happens annually because their feeding grounds and breeding grounds are quite far apart from each other.

Whales can survive in the Antarctic through their thick layers of fat. However, their newborn do not have this feature, and would not survive in these cold waters.

So the whales swim northward to find warmer waters to breed and nurture their young, and then start heading south (around August to November) once they’re able to build up their blubber.

Thankfully, we are seeing longer increments of these watching periods, as whale populations increase due to successful conservation efforts over recent years!

Whale Types and Behaviours

While you may see a mix of Humpbacks, Southern Right whales, Blue Whales, Orcas, Minke Whales, and even Dolphins, you will most commonly see the former two once you are out on the sea.

You’ll typically know them by behaviour as Humpback Whales are very playful by nature and love to breach (see below for definition). Southern Right Whales, on the other hand, are the darlings of the show as they love to breach, blow, and lobtail more than Humpbacks.

When you observe whales, there’s a chance that it may exhibit one or more of the following behaviours:

  • Breaching – A behaviour where the whale propels most or all of its body out of the water. This is often to display strength or communicate with other whales.
  • Lobtailing – Also known as tail slapping, this is where the whale lifts its tail flukes out of the water and slaps down the surface – creating a big splash to either impress a potential mate or intimidate a competitor!
  • Blowing – Contrary to popular belief, whales exhale to blow out mucus, oils, and some water to take a fresh breath of air.

What to Expect During The Cruise

Once you avail a ticket on the pirate ship, you and the family can have an unrestricted view of the whales from the open upper deck. Lucky sailors will also get the chance to sail the ship, or enjoy an extra special view of the whales by climbing the mast!

The wooden structure of the ship also helps keep whale disturbance down to a minimum, and allows you to see them as they would normally be observed in nature.

Peckish sailors will be rewarded with a warm and hearty soup of the day, with rations of tasty lasagne, garlic bread, and savoury chocolate brownies as a cherry on top. Plain biscuits are also available.

For those looking for beverages, you can head over to our licenced bar for a drink. Take note that smoking is also permitted on deck, but only in one specific area set by the captain. As the Coral Trekker is a timber ship, we do not allow smoking from any other place.

The ticket price starts at $99 for children aged 4 to 14 years old and $149 for adults. If you’re going as a family of four, we offer a ‘Family Ticket’ for two adults and two children for only $397 –  board four people at the price of three!

What to Consider

As the whale watching season falls under the colder months and the sea is generally colder than land, we highly recommend wearing warm clothing and bringing a hat, blankets, and sunscreen for a more comfortable experience as the pirate ship cruise will last about five hours.

We also recommend bringing sunglasses, cameras, and binoculars to better capture an unforgettable moment with the family.

Lastly, we highly suggest arriving at Campbell’s Cove, The Rocks earlier than intended, as boarding is 15 minutes prior to departure. This is to prevent any delays and ensure a smooth start to your adventure.

Attend An Unforgettable Whale Watching Season With Sydney Tall Ships

Ready to see these majestic creatures up front on a pirate ship? We are currently selling tickets for this event from early June to mid-October at 10:15 AM (subject to change).

Looking for more questions that weren’t covered by this article? We invite you to reach out to us for any inquiries – we would be happy to help you have a better experience.