Guest Post by Casey Makovich, Smart Destinations
A San Diego cruise is one of the best ways to orient yourself with the city, see first-hand how San Diego is a strategic naval base, explore the waters and wildlife, and get sweeping skyline views of downtown, Coronado Island, and San Diego Harbor.
Be sure to pack a camera, San Diego cruises are one of the best ways to capture iconic photos of your trip. Whether it’s a close-up of a gray whale you’re after, a scenic tour of San Diego’s unique shoreline, or views of the most iconic buildings and sites downtown, you’ll see a little bit of everything.
If it’s the best photo ops in San Diego you’re after, check out our site highlights from each cruise to determine which ones best showcase the sites you want to see.
North Bay Tour
The professionally narrated 1-hour San Diego harbor tour around the North Bay provides excellent vantage points of the San Diego skyline and iconic landmarks.
Sites you’ll see:
- Ships at the Maritime Museum, including the Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship
- Harbor Island, a scenic, man-made peninsula home to many marinas between Shelter Island and Downtown San Diego
- Shelter Island, a completely non-residential expanse of land and home of the annual YachtFest, plays host to lots of over-sized yachts in its many picturesque marinas
- The North Island Naval Air Station, an operating Naval Base and home to several US Navy aircraft carriers
- Old Point Loma Lighthouse and the Cabrillo National Monument, located at the southernmost tip of Point Loma, is the monument that commemorates Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European to discover the West Coast of the United States in 1542
South Bay Tour
The South Bay Tour of San Diego Harbor gives passengers an informative and entertaining 1-hour narration of San Diego’s unique history and provides excellent views of lots of Coronado Island and other significant sites.
Sites you’ll see:
- The large USS Midway Aircraft Carrier was in operation for over 50 years and is now docked right at San Diego’s Navy Pier and serves as a floating museum experience
- The US Navy Surface Fleet of ships anchored at the active naval base on Coronado Island
- The picturesque Coronado Island Waterfront
- Coronado Bay Bridge, a San Diego landmark, features a distinctive curved design that spans 2.12 miles and a 200-foot vertical clearance your cruise ship will glide under
- The Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, home of the west coast Navy SEAL teams and Special Boat Units, serves as a hub for special warfare training and operations
If you can’t pick between the North and South Bay Tours, you can choose to see it all on the 2-Hour Full Harbor Tour which features a combination of both North Bay and South Bay Tours for a small upgrade fee.
For a quick San Diego Bay experience with stunning views, hop on a 15-minute ferry ride to Coronado Island—have your camera ready, you’ll get a great view of the USS Midway from the water as you take off from the downtown pier.
Rent a bike to explore the island and head to Centennial Park for panoramic views of San Diego’s entire downtown skyline before making your way to the historic and architecturally iconic Hotel Del Coronado.
For a fun and unique-to-San Diego adventure, consider going on the Whale Watching cruise. This 3.5-hour tour is narrated by knowledgeable naturalists from the famous Birch Aquarium and sightings of gray whales migrating from Alaska to the lagoons of Baja California are guaranteed so you’ll definitely be able to get the photos you’re after. In addition to whales, visitors often spot dolphins, seals, sea lions, and other wildlife native to San Diego waters.
Short on time? Experience the once-in-a-lifetime thrill of San Diego whale watching combined with the excitement of a high speed jet boat aboard our Patriot Jet Boat whale watching excursion instead.
Whale watching excursions operate seasonally from December through April.
Save on Admission to Top Attractions
Planning to visit other top San Diego attractions during your upcoming trip? You can save up to 55% on combined admission prices compared to purchasing individual tickets with a Go San Diego Card All-In Pass.