Safe travel on Sydney Ferries

There are many safety considerations when travelling by water. Observe these tips, and everyone will enjoy a safe trip on Sydney ferries.

Sydney ferries are constantly audited and updated to ensure they meet the highest safety standards. Crews undertake emergency training drills every two months.

See accessible ferries and wharves.

If you have any safety concerns or are affected by the anti-social behaviour of other passengers on your wharf or ferry, please speak to a staff member.

Safety tips on the wharf

All wharves (except Cockatoo Island and Garden Island) where Sydney ferries stop are covered by 24-hour recorded video and are equipped with an Emergency Help Point and lifebuoys.

It is a good idea to be familiar with the layout of your wharf. Note the seats, entry gates, walkways and ramps, as well as the location of the Help Point and life saving devices.

While waiting for a ferry on the wharf:

  • don’t rush – be on the wharf ready to board at least five minutes before departure. Gates to the Manly ferry service close two minutes before the scheduled departure time at both Circular Quay and Manly. This is to ensure on-time departures.
  • remain behind any yellow and black striped areas on the wharf
  • riding bikes, skateboards or rollerblades on the wharf is prohibited
  • don’t climb on or over railings or the wharf structure
  • don’t move or play with gangways
  • keep a firm hold of your pram and put on the brakes
  • alert trained security personnel to danger using the Emergency Help Point on unstaffed wharves. It connects you with trained security personnel via CCTV.
  • use the lifebuoy on the wharf if you see someone in the water requiring assistance, and immediately press the Emergency Help Point or call 000.

Taking the ferry at night

If you are travelling at night, stay in well-lit areas in sight of incoming vessels and in the vicinity of the Help Point, PA speakers and CCTV cameras. See Safety late at night.

Safe boarding and disembarking

While moving between the wharf and the ferry:

  • stand back and allow passengers to get off before you board. The deckhand holding the gangway will let you know when it is safe to board.
  • wait to get off the ferry beyond the yellow and black striped area – this allows the deckhand to safely secure the vessel and position the gangway. The deckhand holding the gangway will advise you when it is safe to disembark.
  • hold onto the handrail and watch your footing as you walk over the gangway. Ensure your bags are secure.
  • don’t board or disembark while on your mobile phone
  • supervise young children – hold their hand or guide them to use the handrail.
  • prams wider than 74cm will not fit on gangways and must to be collapsed before boarding
  • allow passengers who are elderly, travelling with carers, mobility aids, or assistance animals to board in front of you and give them space and time to board and disembark safely and comfortably.

Safety tips on board the ferry

  • do not stand in areas marked with yellow and black striped lines or on the upper deck of SuperCat (Watsons/Rose Bay) vessels
  • stow luggage and prams away from aisles, steps, gangways and thoroughfares. Ask the crew where to stow large items. You must stay with your belongings during the journey.
  • remain seated – the vessel can move and sway if water conditions change
  • supervise children on board – the safest place for them is seated beside you
  • do not sit on the bow or the side of the vessel, lean out of the windows, stand on seats or sit children on the rails or on your shoulders
  • keep prams out of aisles and passageways. If a crew member asks you to fold your pram, seat your child on your lap
  • protect your belongings from sea spray if sitting outdoors
  • riding bikes, skateboards or rollerblades on the ferry is prohibited
  • secure your bicycles in the designated area on the F1 Manly ferry and follow the direction of the crew to stow bicycles on other vessels.
  • make the crew aware if you have safety concerns by:
    • alerting the crew on deck patrol
    • using the red Help Point on the F1 Manly ferry (located in the middle of the vessel on both the upper and lower decks)
    • knocking on the door of the wheelhouse on other vessels.

Locate life jackets and exits on vessels

Take a minute when you board to locate the exits and life jackets, as Sydney ferries have different layouts. Read the life jacket instructions. If there is an incident or emergency, the crew will direct you in safety procedures.

Safe boarding passes for Parramatta River services

On busy days Parramatta River services are very popular and can reach capacity quickly. You may be issued with a boarding pass at Parramatta and Circular Quay wharves as you arrive for your service.

The boarding passes do not reserve seats – they are used to safely manage large customer numbers on the pontoon area of the wharves. They do not replace your ticket – you must purchase a valid ferry ticket for your service.