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DESTINATION: Sydney

By JOHN ROZENTALS

TRAVEL: 24 MARCH 2017

JOHN ROZENTALS enjoys a long lunch on one of the great waterways of the world.

It’s as genuinely iconic as the Harbour Bridge, that great arched structure which crosses it, and the Opera House, which stands alongside it on Benelong Point.

Yes, that right. Of course I’m talking about Sydney Harbour itself, quite rightly described as one of the world’s most beautiful waterways, the source of real-estate dreams, and the launching pad for a million lunches.

Of course, most people reckon that the harbour gives the best of itself on a bright, sunny day when its glistening water is packed with pleasure craft, or on a clear night when the lights of the city and suburbs shimmer their reflections.

But I reckon that it’s just as gorgeous and magnetic on an overcast day with the mist scudding in and a few white tops as you get near the Heads that protect it from the full force of the Pacific Ocean — especially if you’re sitting in a sturdy boat behind large, protecting windows, drinking your second or third glass of bubbly and enjoying a thoroughly decadent three-course meal.

And that’s exactly where we are — on board MV Sydney 2000, one of the largest vessels on Sydney Harbour and with three levels of seating, plus an upstairs observation deck.

It’s a clever arrangement, allowing separation of guests by floor — and a varied disembarkation schedule — according to what particular cruise package they have purchased. It seems to run like clockwork.

The staff are friendly and efficient, and we’re soon quaffing our first glass of bubbly. Drinks are normally served on a pay-as-you-go basis but we’ve purchased a drinks package that provides regular top-ups and offers good-value imbibing.

The menu offers a limited but adequate choice for most tastes, starting with smoked ocean trout (served with shaved fennel, dill, capers and a black-caviar dressing) or spinach-and-ricotta ravioli (with napolitana salsa and grana padano cheese).

The main courses the choice extends to Tasmanian grilled salmon fillet, beef tenderloin, and pumpkin-and-spinach-stuffed chicken breast, while for dessert there’s a choice between a Bavarian vanilla slice with strawberries and chocolate sauce, and slow-baked lemon-and-lime tart with a dollop of thickened cream.

All this is accompanied by the stunning vistas of Sydney Harbour, with a couple of stops to pick up and let off passengers on other packages. What a pleasanr way to spend the afternoon — and a great way for visitors to Sydney really put it into persepective.

And, yes, we do manage to get to the observation deck and take in some fresh air and a touch of spray.

Captain Cook Cruises runs a raft of Sydney Harbour cruises ranging from two-hour sightseeing cruises, through seafood buffet lunches and Captains dinners on the water, to our three-hour long-lunch cruise, and ultimately to a six-course degustation dinner cruise accompanied by premium Penfolds wines and live music.

There are also a number of special-occasion cruises, run for things such as Mother’s Day, New Year’s Eve and Vivid — Sydney’s premier festival of light, music and ideas.

IF YOU GO

Captain Cook Cruises, Wharf 6, Circular Quay or Pier 26, Darling Harbour or King St Wharf 1, Sydney (phone 02 9206 1111 or 1800 804 843 or visit www.captaincook.com.au).

Disclosure: John Rozentals was a guest of Captain Cook Cruises.

Above: MV Sydney 2000 … three enclosed floors from which to enjoy the harbour.

About to pass under a Sydney icon … the Big Coathanger.

Above and below: Sydney Harbour … a stunning place to visit, regardless of the weather.

Leaving Circular Quay and meeting a much larger visitor … Voyager of the Seas.