Cruising Celebrity Century, waving goodbye to Australia’s bridge climbers in Sydney

Yes, in the picture, the figures that look like ants at the top of Sydney Harbor Bridge, on either side of the flag to the left, are people.

They are waving goodbye to my ship, the Celebrity Century, as it begins a 12-night cruise from Sydney, Australia, to Tasmania and New Zealand.

More about the Celebrity Century and the cruise in blogs to follow. (And no, the Century is not the sailing ship under the bridge.)

The bridge climb is one of the most popular diversions for young travelers to Sydney.

For two hours or more, visitors trudge up one of longest single-span steel arch bridges in the world, fourth behind the Lupu in Shanghai, the New River Gorge in West Virginia and Bayonne in New York.

The top of the arch in Sydney is 440 feet high, reachable as part of a guided tour starting at about $200. The climb seems safe enough, as you are issued outer clothing, headwear and gloves, and breath-tested (reading under 0.05% alcohol) just to make sure you are in your right mind.

Bridge climbers are attached to a static line. They walk along flat mesh catwalks, up four flights of stairs plus 465 steps on the arches, ducking under and squeezing through girders – or so say the climbing instructions. Guides provide encouragement for climbers to overcome fears about heights.

Still, I declined the climb, citing my fear of falling from any ladder that’s more than a few steps above the ground.

I was contented to watch, as my ship passed by the famed Sydney Opera House and headed out to sea.

The Opera House tour, BTW, was more my style. Before the cruise, I joined a small group for the one-hour Essential Tour ($35) that included a witty guide and an audio headset so she didn’t need to shout as she explained the design and construction of one of the world’s most amazing buildings. It’s an architectural masterpiece that hosts opera, ballet, symphony and dramatic performances.

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