The weather is fine and the livin’ is easy if you’re lucky enough to be near the water in San Diego. Or if you’re visiting the area, do what I do and spend an afternoon or evening cruising the San Diego Bay.
My fave, depending on time of year, is the Whale Watching cruise. But the Sunset cruises are a popular choice, and so are the Dinner and Champagne cruises. On my bucket list: a holiday cruise, like the Independence Day Fireworks cruise, and the Lighted Boat Parade cruise around Christmas time.
3 Ways to Choose a San Diego Cruise
If you want to try a cruise on the San Diego Bay, you’ll find many options available. Hornblower cruises are a top pick, but each cruise company offers a different experience that you might like. So how do you choose?
- Browse the discounts — How much do you want to pay? Many cruise companies provide special ticket prices outside ticket sources. (See a list of discounts and trusted cruise ticket sources below.)
- Sort by time — When do you want to go? Each San Diego Bay cruise company offers different types of cruises depending on whether it’s daytime or nighttime. Throughout the year you’ll see different cruises offered that represent the seasons. You’ll also see special themed cruises that celebrate holidays like Christmas, Saint Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, Mother’s Day, and 4th of July.
- Pick a theme — What’s your style? Each company provides cruises with different themes, such as dolphin and whale watching cruises, brunch, happy hour, and dinner cruises, party cruises, sunset cruises, and holiday cruises.
San Diego Cruise Discount Tickets
Here’s my roundup of current offers that save you around half off and sometimes more. The links are curated through my partner site (which means if you order this way I may get a tiny kickback at no cost to you, so thanks if you do). These discount offers come and go from various sources, so keep an eye out for your favorites.
Other Ways To Go
If you don’t find what you’re looking for on the discount cruise list, you can order directly from the cruise companies. Here are three go-to sources I’ve used and trust, all with a selection of San Diego Bay cruises you can book online. There may be some overlap, so you can compare and choose the cruise you like best.
- aRes Travel San Diego Cruise page — Prices may not be as good, but fees are low, and you can print real tickets (not vouchers).
- Viator San Diego Cruise page — Many options available from a top notch ticket company.
- Trusted Tours San Diego Cruise page — Small, but one of my favorites. The prices are often a few bucks cheaper, and they roll the fees into the price up front so you always know what you’re getting.
If you go, here are my recommendations for the best bay cruise experience in the San Diego area.
- Nearby Hotels: Staying over? Find San Diego hotels (rates & reviews) close to the coast.
- Best Time for Whale Watching: According to the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, here are your best bets.
- Gray whales migrate from winter into spring, mid-December through April.
- Blue whales migrate from summer into fall, mid-June through September.
- What to Wear: Dress in layers. No matter how warm it seems, you might get cold when the breeze kicks up over the water. Casual clothes are always appropriate in San Diego.
- What to bring: A camera and some binoculars.