San Diego Harbor Cruises


Location: Downtown San Diego (North Embarcadero)

Harbor Tours Start: 10AM – 4:15PM (5:30 PM during Summer).

Cost: $20+ ($10+ for Kids ages 4-12 and $18+ for Seniors 55 and over)

Features: Take a cruise on San Diego Harbor, the most beautiful harbor in America. Enjoy breathtaking views of the downtown San Diego Skyline while passing by Yachts, Sailboats, Naval Warships, and Seals. Whale-watching, Brunch and Dinner Cruises, and Yacht Charters also available.

harbor-cruiseSan Diego Harbor Cruise Highlights:

Hornblower Cruises and Flagship Cruises both operate from the Broadway Pier, which is in-between the San Diego Maritime Museum to the north and the San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum to the south. All three attractions are accessible from a beautiful walkway along San Diego Harbor.)

Both companies offer one and two hour San Diego Bay tours. For one hour tours, you can choose to explore the North or South sides of the San Diego Bay, while the two hour tours include both. If you can only choose the one hour tour, here is some information to help you make a decision on whether to see the North or South side.
Downtown View from a Harbor Cruise

  • Both have a great view of the downtown skyline. However, the South Tours will take you around to see the full San Diego skyline, including the architecturally interesting San Diego Convention Center.
  • The South Tours provide a closer view of the Coronado Bridge, Hotel Del Coronado, Navy Ships at Naval Station San Diego, and Shipbuilding Operations.
  • The North Tours provide a closer view of sailboats and yachts heading in and out to the Pacific Ocean, military aircraft at North Island Naval Air Base, Cabrillo National Monument, and a better chance of spotting sea lions and other wildlife.

Navy boats and aircraft carriers seen from a Harbor CruiseBoth companies also offer Dinner Cruises, Sunday Brunch Cruises, Whale-Watching Cruises (December – March), and Chartered Yachts. Flagship Cruises also offers Nature Tours to Mexico’s uninhabited Coronado Islands.

What to Expect

  • Tours are narrated.
  • If it is cloudy outside, be sure to bring along a long sleeve shirt or light jacket (even in the summer some times) since it can be breezy out on the Bay. Learn more about San Diego weather.
  • You must bring a valid photo I.D. if you are at least 18 years of age.
  • View of Cruise Ships from a Harbor Tour

  • Harbor Cruises in San Diego provide great picture taking opportunities so don’t forget your camera.
  • Smoking is allowed on the outdoor decks of the boats but is rarely an issue for non-smokers since very few people smoke in San Diego.
  • Food – You can not bring food or drink on the Hornblower. However, you are welcome to bring food and non-alcoholic beverages on Flagship Cruises. The boats offer small cafes. You will also find a variety of restaurants within walking distance.

Information for Cruising on San Diego Bay

San Diego Bay Cruise Web Sites

Flagship Cruises (Formerly San Diego Harbor Excursion)

Hornblower Cruises

Admission Prices: (Costs are Approximate)

  • Parking will range from $2 – $10 (See more parking information below.)
  • 1 Hour Tours on the Flagship Cruises start at $20 (Adults), $18 (Seniors 55 and over), and $10 (Kids 4-12 years old)
  • 2 Hour Tours on the Flagship Cruises start at $25, $23, and $12.50 respectively.
  • Hornblower Cruises charges a couple dollars more for each age category. They also sell tickets for the San Diego Natural History Museum, Maritime Museum, and Aircraft Carrier Museum at $1 discounts and provide a free soda drink coupon for the boat tour as part of the Combo Package.


Both San Diego Bay tour companies launch from the Broadway Pier.

Flagship Cruises at 1050 North Harbor Drive in San Diego, CA 92101.

Hornblower Cruises at 1066 North Harbor Drive in San Diego, CA 92101.

Parking – There is Metered Street Parking near Broadway Pier that runs about $1.25 per hour with a limit of 2 – 3 hours. Nearby parking lots generally charge a parking rate of $10 for 10 hours. It is easier to park in the lots and spend a good part of the day (if not the entire day) enjoying the waterfront attractions, restaurants, going for a walk, and enjoying the views.

Traffic – Getting in and out of downtown using highways I-5, SR-163, and SR-94 is relatively easy. Downtown San Diego is not a major employment center and thus there is very little rush hour traffic. Watch for slower traffic on the I-5 where it does a tight S-curve through downtown San Diego near the SR-163 interchange. When heading southbound on SR-163, stay to the left side unless you want to get on the I-5. (You will encounter a slight delay getting on the I-5 from SR-163.) You will also encounter a slight delay on SR-163 going into downtown when there is an event at Petco Park. The San Diego Padres games usually start at 7:05PM. Even though traffic backs up a little on SR-163, it continues to move along. When leaving downtown, remember that:

  • 1st Avenue will get you to the I-5 North,
  • 11th Avenue will get you to SR-163 and the I-5 North,
  • E & J Streets will get you to the I-5 South, and
  • G Street will get you to SR-94.

The traffic lights on these streets are synchronized and will generally move you along without delay. (Learn how to get the latest highway traffic updates.)

Once you are downtown, you will find most of the streets are one-way, on an alternating basis. (You can see them if you zoom in on Google Maps.) Broadway and Market Streets are both two-way streets running east-west. You will find that at several intersections you are not allowed to make a left turn off of Broadway or Market. Thus, if you need to make a left turn, it is often better to use a one-way street rather than Broadway and Market Streets. The streets closest to the San Diego Bay attractions (including the Broadway Pier) are also two-way.

All of the streets downtown move along quite well. The only exceptions are 4th and 5th Avenues through the Gaslamp Quarter in the evenings and around Petco Park before and after events. One other exception is crossing train tracks that run along Harbor Drive in front of the Convention Center. You can cross over the train tracks at Market, Front, 1st, and 5th. Sometimes, freight trains block the latter few crossover streets. If you see them sitting still, it means they are checking their brakes, so it could take a while. Don’t wait. Move farther north towards Market Street to cross over the tracks.

Transit – Both the Blue and Orange Trolley Lines move through Downtown San Diego and get you within four blocks of most attractions, including the Harbor Cruises (Santa Fe Depot and America Plaza Stations). The AMTRAK and Coaster Station is also within a few blocks of the Harbor Cruises. (See San Diego Transit Information for the downtown transit map and information for the online Transit Planner.) Walking around Downtown San Diego is easy since it is flat with the exception of the northeast corner near Cortez Hill.

Find More Attractions with Similar Themes or Location: *San Diego Tours & Sightseeing*, *Top San Diego Attractions*, City Skyline Views, Embarcadero North / Columbia, Maritime Attractions, Military Museums & Presence, Ocean & Bay Adventures, San Diego Bay Boating, Wildlife - Places to See |

One Response to “San Diego Harbor Cruises”

  1. Susan says:

    Jada classic 65 foot, Philip Rhodes Yawl, avialable for cruises of San Diego bay, sunset cruises, whale watching, weddings at sea, corporate and private charters, and memorials at sea.

    I’ve been on a couple cruises on Jada, both of which were lots of fun. One was a regular charter cruise around San Diego bay, and the other was a 60th birthday party, complete with pirate costumes. The crew was friendly and professional, and provided a nice selection of finger foods and wine. There’s nothing like the experience of being on a boat under full sail. Very cool!

    I enjoyed myself enormously both times, and I’m looking forward to going out again, maybe whale watching this time.

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