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San Diego Harbor Cruises by Flagship & City Cruises – prices, dress code


San Diego Harbor Cruises is the best way to explore the San Diego Bay area, a natural harbor and a deepwater port.

These cruises are professionally narrated tours that take you under the Coronado Bridge, past military ships, waterfront landmarks, etc., for an in-depth look at San Diego’s scenic beauty.

Visitors can choose from numerous options – dinner cruises, champagne cruises, speed boat rides, drive-your-own speedboats, and more.

This article shares everything you must know before booking your San Diego Bay Harbor Cruise. 

Top San Diego Harbor Cruises Tickets

# 1-hour harbor tour

# Harbor Sightseeing Cruise

What to expect on a harbor cruise

Here is a quick video on what to expect on a San Diego Bay Harbor cruise. 

San Diego Harbor provides stunning views of the city skyline, Coronado Bridge, Naval Base San Diego, and the picturesque coastline. Be prepared to capture some fantastic photos of the harbor and its surroundings.

Depending on the time of year, you can spot marine life, such as sea lions, dolphins, and various seabirds. Some cruises even offer specific wildlife-watching tours.

Most harbor cruises provide narrated tours through live guides. These narrations give you insights into the area’s history, landmarks, and interesting facts.

Cruises often pass by or stop at key landmarks such as the USS Midway Museum, Seaport Village, the Maritime Museum of San Diego, and many more.

You can enjoy the gentle sea breeze, take in the views, and have a peaceful time on the water.

Many harbor cruises are designed to be accessible to visitors, including families with children and individuals with mobility challenges.

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Companies offering San Diego Cruises

Two companies offer cruises in the San Diego Bay area – Flagship Cruises and City Cruises.

Both companies offer excellent services and are rated 4.5/5 on Tripadvisor.

Flagship Cruises

Flagship Cruises is a family-owned company that has been operating for more than 100 years.

They offer many ways to cruise around San Diego Bay, but their cruises on their luxury ships are the most popular. 

Flagship’s luxury ships have three indoor and outdoor seating levels, 360-degree views, and an onboard snack bar serving snacks, sodas, beer, and wine.

Tourists who love speed prefer Flagship’s Patriot Jet Boat Thrill Ride, a turbo-charged way to explore the San Diego bay. 

They also offer seasonal whale-watching tours, available only between December and April.  

 Flagship harbor cruises are the most beautiful way to enjoy the best of San Diego. 

City Cruises

City Cruises was earlier known as the Hornblower Cruises company and offers numerous narrated San Diego harbor cruises for all visitors. 

Their 2-hour Harbor Sightseeing Cruise is the most popular among tourists and locals. 

City Cruises also offers a 2.5-hour, 3-course Dinner Cruise and a 2-hour Champagne Brunch Cruise in the San Diego Bay.  

If you prefer fun-filled happy hour entertainment with an enticing menu and cocktail specials, check out City Cruise’s Sights & Sips 2-hour Cocktail Cruise.

The company also offers Whale and Dolphin Watching Cruises and Sea Lion Adventure Cruises for those interested in local wildlife. 

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San Diego Harbor Cruise prices

The 1-hour harbor tour by Flagship Cruises to either South or North of the San Diego Bay costs US$33 per person. 

For just US$38, you can go on the 2-hour Flagship cruise where you get to see both the North and South side of the Bay. 

The 2-hour long Harbor Sightseeing Cruise by City Cruises is priced at US$46.

The San Diego Harbor Dinner Cruise costs US$168, and the Brunch Cruise comes with a price tag of US$135.

San Diego Cruise discounts 

City Cruises and Flagship offer the same kind of discounts on their cruises. 

Everybody above 13 must pay the full price, while kids four to 12 get a 50% discount on the adult ticket price. 

Children three years and younger can join in for free. 

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San Diego Harbor Cruise North or South

While booking a San Diego Harbor Cruise, tourists have three options: North Harbor, South Harbor, or both.

If you opt for one of the harbors, the cruise is one hour long, and you get to see only half the attractions. 

North Harbor or South Harbor San Diego Cruise
Image: Tripster.com

North Harbor: You can see the San Diego skyline, the Star of India, and the iconic ships of the Maritime Museum, Harbor Island, Shelter Island, and North Island Naval Air Station.

South Harbor: You see the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier, US Navy Surface Fleet, Coronado waterfront, Naval Amphibious Base Coronado (Navy SEALs train here), and Coronado Bay Bridge.

The full tour of San Diego Bay lasts two hours, and you get to see both the North and the South harbors. 

The complete 2-hour tour by Flagship Cruises costs only US$ 5 more than the 1-hour-long cruise. 

So if your question is, “North Harbor or South Harbor at San Diego Harbor?” our answer is, “Both!”

City Cruises’ 2-Hours Cruise also covers all parts of the San Diego Harbor cruise.

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Dress code for San Diego Harbor Cruises

The dress code for San Diego Harbor Cruises depends on the type of cruise booked. 

Dinner Cruises

Business casual to dressy casual attire is a safe bet for dinner cruises on the San Diego Bay. 

Dinner Cruise dress code
This photograph will give you a sense of the dress code for a dinner cruise. Image: Flagshipsd.com

Men can wear slacks or khaki pants and a collared shirt with or without a jacket, while women can wear slacks or skirts with a collared shirt or dress. 

City Cruises recommends no jeans, shorts, tank tops, flip-flops, or gym shoes on dinner cruises. 

Lunch and Brunch Cruises

For lunch and brunch cruises, it is better to be dressed in business casual, such as khaki pants and collared shirts. 

Shorts, tank tops, flip flops, or gym shoes are strongly discouraged. 

Regular Harbor & Whale-watching tours

For San Diego whale-watching cruise, or regular harbor tours, tourists can wear casual attire, such as shorts and t-shirts.

We recommend dressing in layers and bringing along a jacket or a wrap because it can get breezy on board, especially on the outer decks and cruises that head out on the open ocean. 

Bringing a hat and some sunscreen makes a lot of sense for daytime cruises.

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City Cruises depart from 970 North Harbor Drive, and the Flagship Cruises leave the shores from 990 North Harbor Drive.

Departure piers for both the companies are just 300 meters (.2 miles) from each other.

San Diego Harbor Cruises departures

However, checking your ticket confirmation email to determine the boarding point and timing is better. 

Boarding time

Boarding time is usually 15 to 30 minutes before departure.

It is better to reach at least 30 minutes before dinner cruises to enjoy your boarding cocktail and dockside sights. 

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FAQs about San Diego Cruise

Tourists planning a cruise around the San Diego Bay area have many questions.

We answer them here –

  1. What happens to the cruise during bad weather?

    City Cruises and Flagship Cruises sail rain or shine. The ships remain dockside during severe weather conditions (or when directed by the US Coast Guard).The Patriot, which has open-air seating, is more likely to be canceled due to rain. But you don’t need to worry because if your cruise gets canceled, you can choose to reschedule or receive a full refund.

  2. Are there any age restrictions on San Diego cruises?

    Most cruises have no age restrictions, but all minors require adult supervision.Cocktail cruises are usually for patrons 21 years and older. 

  3. When is the dinner served on dinner cruises?

    The moment you get on board, you get a boarding drink, after which the service begins.

  4. How safe are San Diego Cruises?

    San Diego Harbor cruises are safe because each vessel is US Coast Guard certified with life preservers and all required lifesaving equipment, including child life vests.

  5. Will I get seasickness?

    Since the Bay area cruises don’t leave the San Diego harbor’s calm waters, most guests don’t experience any discomfort. However, if you experience motion sickness, you will likely face uneasiness during the cruise. You should take your usual preventative measures in such a case.Whale-watching cruises go out into the open ocean, which increases your chances of seasickness. 

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This article was researched & written by

Edited by Rekha Rajan & fact checked by Jamshed V Rajan

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