There’s no better way to get a feel for the Gold Coast than on the water. It offers a different view of the sights, an almost voyeuristic peek into Gold Coast homes, and is relaxing and fun.
Wyndham Cruises, one of the city’s longest-running boat cruise companies, recently made the multi-million-dollar investment in a luxurious ship, the ‘Spirit of Elston’, named after the town on the south side of the Nerang River; a town whose fortunes would change when in 1925 Jim Cavill built the Surfers Paradise Hotel and the Jubilee Bridge was opened, the town renamed ‘Surfers Paradise’ soon after.
History was changed forever. Today, the Nerang River is less of a technological challenge, as much a definition of the topography of the area as the beach.
It’s on that river, snaking around the old ‘Elston’, that we cruise.
Wyndham operate several relaxing calm water cruises daily, including morning, lunch, afternoon and dinner cruises as well as catering for special events and charters.
Our twilight dinner cruise boards as the sun sets in front of us. From the Isle of Capri to Sea World, we do figures of eight around the islands and canal developments which hold more waterways than Amsterdam and Venice combined.
The ‘Spirit of Elston’ is a beautiful ship, fresh and bright, nautically-themed with deck furniture that would be as at home beside a pool as on an urban cruise.
We are greeted and shown our seats in the air-conditioned dining area downstairs, offered beverages (beer, wine or cocktails, their signature cocktail served in a pineapple), and soon after entrée is served: two succulent locally-caught tiger prawns with avocado and mango salsa topped with a crispy pappadam – gone in a flash! Delicious!
We’d made our choice of mains when we booked: Eye fillet steak on truffle mash with seasonal vegetables finished with jus, and local Goldband snapper, placed on top of the truffle mash and veg doused in coconut green curry sauce.
Having watched the chef plating up the mains as we chatted, live music providing entertainment downstairs, we chat over a drink.
With both our main course dishes featuring substantially-sized single meat portions, plating up with the ‘seasonal veg’ of the night (broccolini) proves to be a challenge – the steak more successful that the snapper. A very large piece of freshly-caught fish, it dominates the plate entirely, its presentation almost daunting for such a gorgeous piece of fish. We noted that other options include Proscuitto-wrapped chicken and a Vegetarian stack seated on a field mushroom.
Dessert follows, an ‘assiette’ or ‘plate’ allowing a taste (literally) of dessert: tiramisu, choc chip chocolate mousse, a disc of blueberry vanilla bean cheesecake presented with a few berry pieces. Unlike the main course, the dessert is a little too small, not featuring any one item (such as the tiramisu) as a focal point.
It’s a small element, however, on a great trip, made memorable by the visual adventure – the unveiling of magnificent views, the skyline throwing hues of purple and orange across the water to meet us, Q1’s beacon winking seductively as couples huddle on the open air upper deck chatting, gathering at the railings in groups, or making new friends (as we do).
This would be a great trip for a special occasion, a birthday gift or as a romantic date. Unlike the day cruises, there is no commentary on this trip. Instead, you are free to enjoy the view and the company of your companions. As the calm water provides no physical challenge, it’s also suitable for older people, tourists and locals who wish to take in our magnificent city from the comfort of the ‘Spirit of Elston’.
Adult prices are presently $79pp for dinner and cruise. Please check Wyndham’s website to verify price and time of departure. Bookings essential.
Tiki Village Wharf, 58 Cavill Ave., Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 5539 9299 Mob: 0481 219 011
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast were guests of Wyndham Cruises.