Iconic Floating Venues Around the World!

Sydney Travel Blog

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Floating venues have a charm and elegance that elevates mundane functions to an all-new level. This concept was first brought about on Showboats by combining a dinner cruise with a show ranging from comedy plays to serious dramas to bands. We look at some of the long-standing iconic floating venues around the world that are worth a mention because of their unique history!

Sydney Showboats, Sydney Harbour

Celebrating 30 Years of Spectacular Cruising, Sydney Showboats is a floating venue on Sydney Harbour that celebrates the best of dining cruises with cabaret performances that form the main entertainment for the evening.

A vessel that exudes old-world charm with a retro-style construction and wrap-around verandas, Showboat mixes contemporary construction with modern luxuries to give its guests an exquisite time. The cabaret show is a visual treat and the main highlight of the Showboat.

The speciality of Sydney Showboats is that it was a purpose-built vessel for hosting shows and awards functions, so all the amenities were thought out and designed at infancy. The glitz and glamour of the cabaret show and deluxe dining experience makes the Showboat a unique venue resulting in its continuing success.

The Thekla, Britain

Another iconic ship that is a famous floating venue is the Thekla. In existence for over 33 years, the venue has hosted a variety of events from operas to concerts. Known before as the Old Profanity Showboat, it was a happy hunting ground for numerous budding actors and comedians. John Entwistle, bass guitarist of the famous band ‘The Who’ had graced these stages during the Old Profanity days.

Starting life as a coastal trading vessel in 1958, she was left abandoned for seven years, only to be brought back to life and converted to a showboat. Renamed as ‘Old Profanity Showboat’, she has been moored in Bristol ever since.

The boat changed hands in 1986 to become the Thekla again. It became a thriving spot for the local bands of Bristol. By the early 2000s till now, the Thekla has been around as a thriving nightclub and one of the iconic landmarks of Britain.

Goldenrod, Mississippi

The father of showboats, the Goldenrod is the original iteration straight from the 19thcentury. Plying the waters of Mississippi from 1909 (the centre stage for Showboats then), the Goldenrod continued service till 2001 after which it was unceremoniously abandoned on the Missouri River at St. Charles where it still lies in a dilapidated stage. 

In its glory days, the Goldenrod was the most well-appointed and ornate of all Showboats with opulent interiors, making it stand a head higher than its competition. Like the Showboats during this time period, the Goldenrod didn’t have propulsion of its own and had to use the services of a tug boat to move from place to place.

The Goldenrod continued to live on despite being in many catastrophes like a terrible fire in 1962 which destroyed the entire vessel except for the superstructure. It was brought back to its original glory as the vessel was considered a national treasure. Being a host to a variety of events like minstrel shows, dramas, jazz bands and the like, the Goldenrod is an important part of diverse American entertainment history. 

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Standing on the decks of a New Year’s Eve cruise vessel on Sydney Harbour, here I was welcoming another New Year. Heralding the beginning of a fresh new chapter in my life, there couldn’t have been a better venue than the Sydney NYE cruise and New Year Fireworks display. Looking at my fellow passengers all dressed in their best and nursing a glass of wine, an intriguing thought went through my mind.

Boats have always been a part of new beginnings and global breakthroughs for a long time. Before air and rail transport came about, ships were the main mode of transportation connecting the world. Sailing vessels made it possible for countries to be discovered and trade routes set up. Magellan circumnavigated the world on a ship, bravely sailing through uncharted waters. Cook was another explorer, who with the aid of ships, discovered Australia and New Zealand.

Many North American settlers owe heartfelt thanks to ships that helped them cross the Atlantic to the land of dreams. Immigrants from Europe and other nations find refugee on ships to reach the shores of America, their eyes glistening with joy on seeing the Statue of Liberty, just as ours do when we celebrate the New Year!

Boats have always been a part of life, but the boats of yester yore bear no resemblance to the modern vessels like this Sydney Harbour cruise vessel I am on now, though the whole concept remains same. They have also evolved a great deal in terms of purpose – from being a mass people carrier to specialised luxury tourist cruise vessels and cargo ships.

Ships are now an opulent mode of travel with cruise vessels docking at many ports in exotic locations. The cruise vessels have all sorts of creature comforts like swimming pools, restaurants, spas, game rooms to name a few. They are floating vacation spots that help you get away from the stress of everyday life and give you the opportunity to live in a perfect pampered world for a few days. Ships take their time to reach their destinations, but you can travel in comfort and style. Which is why people prefer cruise ships to airplanes, despite air travel being faster.

Personal luxury yachts are another fancy of the wealthy and are a symbol of power and prestige. The largest yacht ‘Azzam’ is owned by Sheikh Khalifa, the President of UAE followed by Roman Abramovich’s ‘Eclipse’.    

So in the 21stcentury, ships still play a key role in our lives evolving in their purpose and becoming key players in day-to-day activities. Almost all of the world’s oil is still transported through gigantic tankers and most of the goods are moved through containers in cargo ships. They also play a key role in the leisure industry with dining cruises on harbours and boats that morph into venues for shows and parties.

Which brings me to another interesting thought… What will the ships of the future be like? Will they transform into huge floating cities with permanent residents? We’ll just have to wait and see!

It’s that time of the year to bring out the tinsel and trees and start planning parties. Before everyone heads for their much-needed holidays, a Christmas party is in order at the workplace. Now having to come up with a Christmas party venue in Sydney that trumps the previous year is a tough ask! So do read on… we have some ideas for Christmas party venues in Sydney that might just do the trick!

Buckley’s Craft Beer Bar

An ideal venue located right at the water’s edge in Circular Quay, Buckley’s is perfect for any gathering be it an office function or a gathering of friends. This bubbly venue location is ideal for you and your workmates to relax and have a great time enjoying the harbor view. Good food and good beer and great conversations – all the right ingredients for a fantastic year-end Christmas party. Be it a cocktail or a dining Christmas party Buckley’s is one of the best venues in Sydney that offers indoor, outdoor and semi-private areas depending on the kind of party that is planned.

A Christmas party cruise on Sydney Harbor

One of the perks of being a Sydneysider is the close proximity to Sydney Harbor. It’s an ideal venue for hosting corporate Christmas parties or dinner parties – the ideas and venues are endless! A Christmas party cruise on Sydney harbor will be a great venue for a private office party, giving your group space to make merry without any disturbances. If a boat is too big for your party, you can also opt for a private deck as well. There are varied Christmas party cruise options on Sydney Harbor, offering all-inclusive dining, cruise and drinks packages for groups as small as 8 to maximum capacity. A combination of great food, vibrant party atmosphere and great views of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera house makes hosting your office Christmas party on a cruise in Sydney a great idea!

Australian National Maritime Museum

A museum is usually associated with boring informative tours. The Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMC) begs to differ on that aspect making it a fun museum experience while also playing host to a number of parties and functions. The ANMC can host close to 2,000 guests at eleven different venues spread about the compound. Where else can you enjoy cocktails on a period vessel like the HMB Endeavour, a replica of the vessel James Cook commanded on his first voyage of discovery to Australia and New Zealand!

Boronia House

If you are looking for elegant surrounds to host your office Christmas party, the Boronia House might be the perfect venue. An old heritage-listed venue, Boronia House has a unique character and delightful ambience which will be a welcome change for your guests. Easy accessibility is another virtue as it’s only 14kms from Sydney’s bustling CBD. A perfect venue to host up to 300 guests, you should definitely check out the Boronia House.     

Old Growler

If you think a colonial house sounds a bit dull for your tastes, then the Old Growler will definitely change your perspective. “Warmly lit, exposed-brick hideaway with archways, serving hearty mains and snacks, plus craft beer” is how they describe themselves. What more could you ask for! They also serve one of the meanest burgers in the whole of Sydney. Set in a basement, the Old Growler has a dark and friendly atmosphere making you feel welcome right when you step in! A maximum of 120 guests can feel at home, sampling some great food and beer celebrating the Christmas season in style! 

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photo by: Sunflower300