New full-time whale watching cruises start at Cronulla

Tourism in Sutherland Shire will get a boost when full-time whale watching cruises start at Cronulla next week.

Cronulla Whale Watching has scheduled two cruises a day during the migration season, from May 15 to October 30.

Prices are $65 for adults and $35 for children.

A purpose-built vessel, named Whale Watcher, accommodates 49 passengers on three main decks - front, rear and upper.

Cruises will run from the Gunnamatta Bay wharf from Wednesday to Sunday, with sessions from 9.30am to 12.30am and 1.30pm to 4.30pm.

On the return trip, there will be the option of a drop-off at Bundeena wharf so visitors can explore the township or walk the Coast Track.

Mike Abbott and Malcolm Steen established Cronulla Whale Watching as a spin-off from their business, Sydney Premium Charters.

"We have been doing whale watching tours out of Cronulla for groups for a couple of years," Mr Abbott said.

"Because of the growing popularity, we decided to do it full-time.

"The best thing about Cronulla is its location - it is only 10 minutes from the wharf to the ocean, whereas cruises from Sydney Harbour take 30-40 minutes to get out there.

"Whales come very close to the shore off Cronulla and sometimes even into Bate Bay.

"Our main focus is to share with the world the beauty that we see everyday living here in Cronulla.

"We are giving people the option of a drop-off at Bundeena at the end of the cruise.

"If they do the morning cruise, we can drop them off at Bundeena and they can either catch a ferry back or return on our afternoon service.

"We believe a lot of tourists will want to combine the experiences.

"At present, most are coming through Cronulla to catch the ferry to Bundeena.

"We don't want to detract from that but, rather, value add."

Mr Abbott said the only problem was that, with the season about to start, the whales were slow to arrive in big numbers.

"Mother nature has thrown a spanner into the works," he said.

"We have seen 20 whales in the last three weeks.

"When the whales turn up, you will get anything from 50 to 100 sightings a day.

"We are not going to take people out if there are no whales, so people who have booked for the start of the season will be given another opportunity."

An estimated 30,000 humpback whales migrate each year from Antarctica, along the coast of NSW to the warmer waters of Queensland.

They start their return south, travelling with young calves, around July.