Last Updated on January 16, 2024 by thecapetownblog
Cape Town’s Atlantic Coast is just beautiful, and one of the best ways to soak in its beauty is from a boat cruise.
So if you make your way down to the bustling harbour area at the Waterfront, you’ll see that there is no shortage of boats just waiting to take you on a sightseeing tour. Plus, it’s actually a pretty affordable thing to do, and you can be back on dry land in as little as an hour.
I recently did a 1-hour boat cruise from the harbour to the Mouille Point lighthouse, so I wanted to share my full review to help you decide whether or not it’s worth it while you’re in Cape Town.
Why do a Waterfront boat cruise?
Well, first and foremost, a Waterfront boat cruise gives you fantastic views of Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, and the Green and Sea Point neighbourhoods.
I also enjoyed spotting marine life along the way. I was lucky enough to spot a seal playing with a fish (although I’m sure that the fish didn’t feel quite so fortunate), as well as a sunfish and a dolphin. I didn’t manage to snap a photo of the dolphin as it was pretty brief, but it was very exciting!
Plus, there’s a fun atmosphere on the boat and the crew were really cool. It’s suitable for both families and groups of friends, and honestly, just getting out on the water on a sunny day is always a lovely thing to do.
How much does it cost?
The cruise that I did cost R340 (£14/$18), which is the price for the cruise only.
You can buy drinks on board. They had some drink specials, such as two gin and tonics for R60. I’ll admit I was slightly hungover when I did the cruise so I played it safe with a Diet Coke, which cost R25. So pretty standard prices for Cape Town!
What will I see on a Waterfront boat cruise?
You’ll get awesome views of Table Mountain from the outset, and it won’t take long for Lion’s Head to come into view.
On a clear day, you’ll be able to see out to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and many other political prisoners were held and forced to do hard labour.
On a cheerier note, you’ll also sail past the waterfront neighbourhoods of Green Point and Sea Point, and see the Mouille Point lighthouse from a different perspective.
And as I’ve already mentioned, you’ll see marine life. We saw a sun fish floating on its side (I thought it was dead at first, but apparently that’s just what they do!) and so the captain turned off the engine and drove the boat around the fish so that everyone on board could get a better look. And of course, we were all delighted to see seals and dolphins!
Who operates the Waterfront boat cruise?
The cruise I did was with Waterfront Charters, who are one of the biggest cruise companies to operate in the area. The crew were really nice and the check-in process was pretty seamless, so no complaints about them!
What time does the boat go?
The boat leaves at 11:30 AM and 2:30 PM. I went in the afternoon but it doesn’t really matter – whatever suits you best! It lasts for exactly an hour, so the cruise is easy to fit into a day of fun at the waterfront.
You’ll need to check in 20 minutes early at the ticket booth, which is along the harbour, near the amphitheatre where buskers often perform. Then, after you get your tickets, the boat leaves from the dock next to the Life Grand cafe, but the crew will show you where to go.
Do you get wet on a Waterfront boat cruise?
Only if you sit in the splash zone! The people who chose to sit at the front of the boat were warned and were able to keep their valuables inside so that they didn’t get damaged. However, I chose to sit on the top floor and I stayed completely dry.
Is there a bar on board?
Yes, there’s a cash bar (although that’s a figurative term these days because you can pay with a card). Drinks were reasonably priced and they had some specials on. The bartender knew I was hungover and kept encouraging me to do tequila shots, although I politely declined, unable to stomach the idea.
Is it suitable for families?
Yes, despite what I just said about the bar and the encouragement of shots, this is a family-friendly experience. Although drinking is permitted, it’s not a booze cruise and everyone on board was very well-behaved. There were quite a few families on board when I went and they all seemed to be having a fantastic time!
Do you need to book in advance?
Yes, but not very far. You just need to make a reservation online, but not weeks in advance or anything like that.
I only booked my ticket a few days in advance. It’s a good idea to do that if you’re here during late December or early January but honestly, you can usually book the day before.
Is this the best boat cruise in Cape Town?
The Enigma is a great boat and the crew are awesome. However, I did prefer the sunset champagne cruise that I did. The sky was spectacular at sunset, I got a longer boat ride, the price included half a bottle of bubbly per person, so it was definitely worth the extra R200 if you ask me.
However, a daytime boat cruise is definitely better for families because the sunset one is a bit more boozy. And if a daytime boat ride suits your schedule better than an evening one, then it’s still a great choice!
And if you’re looking to save money, a rival company offers a similar experience for R300, saving you R40. The boat is not quite as nice, but there’s not a lot in it to be honest, since it’s only got one level. There are also some other great boat rides in Cape Town that you can do, so check out this post for more.
All in all, though, I was really happy with the boat ride that I did and definitely felt that it was worth the R340! I would definitely do it again.
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