I have to tell you, friends, our trip to San Diego was nothing short of fabulous.  We escaped the Texas cold and headed for the California sun over the Christmas break, and boy were we glad we did.  There is so much to do in San Diego that we found ourselves wishing for more time, but enough about that, you are here to read about our San Diego harbor cruise, so let us get to it!

*This post contains affiliate links.  By purchasing through these links, we get a small commission at no additional cost to you. That Texas Couple is also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.  As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.  In addition, this is a sponsored post.  Marty and I were hosted by Hornblower Cruises, but as always, all opinions are our own.

Why Choose a San Diego Harbor Cruise?

I have to tell you that we did not originally plan to do a Harbor Cruise with Hornblower Cruises.  We planned on going on a whale-watching cruise as December was prime migration season for whales.

Unfortunately, I had to put a damper on these plans.  I get extremely motion sick so the thought of several hours out on open seas did not appeal to me.

I know what you’re thinking…”take some Dramamine, Michelle, you’ll be fine.”  Normally I would agree with you but I had just recovered from a bad case of vertigo that had me bedridden for weeks so I was not willing to risk it.

I told Marty to go ahead without me but, of course, he would not do that.  We opted for the harbor cruise instead and we were both super excited to get out on the water!

Embarking on Our San Diego Harbor Cruise

Marty jumped on the Hornblower website to choose the day and time for our tour.  We were pleasantly surprised to realize that they offer both one- and two-hour cruises several times a day from their waterfront location on Harbor Blvd.

Marty and I chose the one-hour cruise because we were not sure how I was going to do with my vertigo.  You might want to consider the two-hour cruise.  The two-hour cruise only costs a bit more, but it allows you to see the entire harbor.

While it is not required, it is suggested that you make your reservations online as the cruises can fill up during busy times of the year, especially the weekends.

Find Your Perfect San Diego Hotel on Booking.com or Hotels.com today!

What to Expect on a San Diego Harbor Cruise

Hornblower Boat

I suggest getting there early if you have your heart set on an outside seat.  Marty and I were there about 40 minutes early and still were not able to get an outside seat. Once boarding begins, the boat is several levels, and is free seating, meaning first-come, first serve.

Although we didn’t get an outside seat, we really didn’t mind.  Marty was walking around taking pictures most of the time and I sat at a table by the window sipping my drink and enjoying the views.

Drink you ask?  Why yes!  Hornblower offers a full-service bar and a fun snack menu all of which were reasonably priced in my opinion.  While we did not eat any food, we did order drinks and they were very good.

Michelle while on San Diego Harbor Cruise

What Will I See on a San Diego Harbor Cruise?

As we pulled away from the dock, I found myself in awe of the size of the USS Midway that was directly beside us.  I later commented to one of my Navy friends that the USS Midway was huge and they laughed at me.  They quickly informed me that it was not huge; it was actually a small ship!  Well, from my vantage point on the Hornblower and touring the USS Midway the day before, it seemed huge to me!

As we continued to pull away from the dock, Marty and I were immediately drawn toward the view of beautiful downtown San Diego.  The buildings looked so gorgeous reflecting the sun.  Of course, Marty snapped tons of photos for us!

As we continued on our journey, I was thrilled that we found ourselves surrounded by so many sailboats in the bay.  I’m not sure if this is a normal occurrence or not, but they seemed to be everywhere on this particular day.  A sight we never see in our part of Texas!

USS Midway


The one-hour tour that we were taking is known as the North Harbor Tour.  We found ourselves gliding past Harbor Island and Shelter Island, both of which housed several boats before we stumbled across my favorite part of the tour, the sea lions!  The tour is fully narrated and the staff provided sufficient information about the surrounding area to keep us interested and always noted wildlife that they spotted near us!

Now, you are not guaranteed to see wildlife while on the tour.  I mean, they are wild.  LOL!  Therefore, I was thrilled when we came across a few sea lions basking in the California sun.  Granted, there were not as many as we saw on our trip to San Francisco, but that’s ok.  I was glad to see any wildlife!

After cruising by the sea lions, we made our way past the submarine base and the Cabrillo Monument before turning to head back toward the dock. Once we made the turn, the view allowed us to peek into the North Island Naval Air Station that takes up a big part of Coronado Island.  Marty enjoyed seeing all of the Navy’s planes and helicopters on this part of the journey.

sea lions in San Diego

Although we did not opt for the two-hour tour, I did check out the map.  The second half of the tour takes you past fun Seaport Village before heading toward Nassco, the 32nd Street Naval Station, and the Coast of Coronado Island.  I’m sure this would have been an enjoyable experience as well had my vertigo not been acting up (sigh).

All in all, we really had a nice, relaxing trip aboard Hornblower Cruises.  I would definitely recommend booking a San Diego Harbor tour with them!

We would love to hear from you .  Have you ever been on a Harbor Cruise?  Tell us about your experience in the comments below!  

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Are you considering a harbor cruise while in San Diego?  Then you need to read this post.  We will outline exactly what to expect on a San Diego Harbor Cruise.  #california #sandiego #harborcruise #couplestravel

Are you planning a trip to San Diego?  If so, then you really should consider a San Diego harbor cruise.  In this post we outline exactly what to expect on a harbor cruise as well as some useful tips and tricks.  #sandiego #california #harborcruise #couplestravel

Are you heading to San Diego and considering a harbor cruise?  Check out this post first.  We will outline for you our experience on a San Diego Harbor Cruise and provide you with a couple of tips and tricks so that you get the most our of your experience.  #sandiego  #california #harborcruise #couplestravel

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  1. I used to go to San Diego a lot when I lived in Phoenix and I did the Hornblower Cruise. It’s definitely something I recommend to people visit San Diego – so much fun!

    • Thanks so much, Anisa. I’m glad to hear that you would recommend it as well 😉

  2. Escaping the winter cold in Texas? Lol. I know, it’s all relative. But on a more serious note, I’ve done the brunch cruise twice and enjoyed it both times.

    • It’s definitely all relative. It’s been in the 30s here, so us that’s cold. LOL! I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed your cruise with Hornblower also.

  3. You sound so much like me — I get motion sick VERY easily! I got tickets to this harbor cruise for a gift, but I kept putting off using them because I thought I would get oozy. Turned out to be smooth and no problem at all! I live in San Diego and loved this tour that allowed me to be a tourist in my hometown. I’m glad you enjoyed your cruise and San Diego!

    • I am so sorry to hear that you suffer from this also, Sharon. I hate it. I have to ride in the front seat of cars all the time-I’m sure my friends LOVE that! LOL! Yes, the harbor cruise was great. I don’t know if I could have stomached the whale watching cruise though?!