San Francisco Bay Cruise Adventure
Take advantage of prime photo opportunities with unobstructed views in every direction aboard Blue & Gold Fleets 60-minute Bay Cruise Adventure.
Sail past the famous PIER 39 sea lions and along San Franciscos historic waterfront, revealing the citys fascinating skyline. This comfortable San Francisco Bay Cruise tour has both indoor and outdoor seating with full narration describing major landmarks as you sail by them. You havent experienced San Francisco until youve taken a Bay Cruise. A free multi-language audio tour is now available in nine languages: English, Spanish, Mandarin, Italian, French, Japanese, Korean, German and Taiwanese. Please bring your Wi-Fi enabled device to access the tour. No reservations required. First come, first served basis. Please arrive 30 minutes prior to your desired departure time.
San Francisco Bay Cruise
We’ll meet at Pier 39, near San Francisco’s famous sea lions, where we’ll board our catamaran before sailing off over the Pacific Ocean.
Spend 1 hour 30 minutes enjoying the sun and sea breeze or relax in the cabin as you admire San Francisco’s skyline.
As we sail the bay’s waters you’ll enjoy spectacular views of San Francisco and its surroundings. You’ll also have audio guides available so you can learn interesting information about the sights we see, such as Alcatraz Island and Golden Gate Bridge.
If you want, you can help the crew with the sails and the rudder – a complete experience!
The tour ends back at Pier 39.
San Francisco Bridge To Bridge Cruise
Tour Length: 90 minutes
My second recommend for San Francisco bay tours is the Bridge to Bridge Cruise. This one is run by the Red and White Fleet. It’s a popular option, but only runs a few times a day.
They are also usually flexible with timing too on which San Francisco boat tour you can board unless it’s a really busy day. You can stop by their dock at any time to confirm which tour you can go on for the day of your ticket.
It’s slightly different from the SF Bay Cruise as this one offers 30 additional minutes on the water. It will follow the same route as above. However, instead of heading back after circling Alcatraz, you will head on for a trip under the Bay Bridge.
You will also cruise past Treasure Island and the Ferry Building. So, it offers a little more fun on the water for just a few more bucks per ticket.
As with the Bay Cruise, the narration for the Bridge to Bridge Cruise is on personal headsets. You can choose from one of 16 languages on their headsets too.
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San Francisco Bay Cruises
Before you book a bay cruise, check to see if there are discounted tickets at Goldstar.com. Often the one-hour bay cruises are available for half-price, and sometimes the other cruises, too.
Goldstar also has lots of half-priced tickets for other SF attractions and events. I always check with them first before I get tickets for activities in San Francisco and the surrounding areas. It’s free to join, then you can see what they’ve got. See Goldstar.com.
Three different companies have boats that do the one hour cruise that starts at Fisherman’s Wharf, sails out and under the Golden Gate Bridge, then circles Alcatraz and returns to the dock.
The views of the city and bay are spectacular, and sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge is one of those OMG experiences. Prices are reasonable, too, especially with the smaller fishing boats, and the discounts available on the other cruises.
Adventure Cat Sailing Charters
Adventure Cat is one of the most popular sailing companies. In addition to their typical charters, they also offer special combo excursions that include hikes, a visit to Alcatraz, and more.
If you want to experience the San Francisco Bay from a sailboat, they offer daily sailing options at a more than fair rate.
They have earned a 5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor. Very few passengers have reported having any issues with this company.
- $75 for Adults and Children
- $5 discount for groups of 10 or more
- Daily at 7 pm from Mar – Oct
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San Francisco Whale Tours
The focus of the expedition is a search for the majestic giants of the oceans: Whales including Gray and Humpback whales!
Join us aboard exciting excursions from the SF Bay and into the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. We head out on our stable catamaran, beginning at Pier 39, in search of whales and wildlife. Take in amazing views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. We may visit Harbor Seals in Diablo Cove and California Sea Lions at Point Bonita, then head out through the Golden Gate Strait known for Harbor Porpoise and whales!
Tours depart Thursday-Sunday, 12pm and 3pm. The Ticket Booth is open Thursday-Sunday, 10am to 5pm.
My Favorite San Francisco Bay Cruises
There are a lot of fun cruises on San Francisco Bay, but if I had to pick some favorites, they would be the Alcatraz cruise and tour, the fishing boat cruise, the sailboat cruise, and Hornblower’s dinner cruise.
See sailing on the bay for my experience on the sailboat cruise.
A nighttime extravaganza: a delicious four-course meal, and stunning views of the city and the bridges all lit up. Amazing!
See dinner cruise for more details about the cruise.
If you have problems with seasickness, it might encourage you to know that I’ve never felt sick on one of these San Francisco Bay tours. And that is coming from someone who can’t even watch the Teacups at Disneyland.
More discounts available
- The Bay City Guide. This free guide is available from the magazine stands all over the Fisherman’s Wharf area. They have lots of discounts for activities in the wharf area, including a few dollars off of the bay cruises . You can also get their coupons online at www.baycityguide.com.
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Your Event Planner Extraordinaire
Meet Deborah Birmingham
Deborah Birmingham started with Empress Events as the Sales Director and Event Planner Extraordinaire in 2010. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts to British parents who moved back to the U.K. where she grew up. Graduated in English Literature and History, then worked in publishing and editorial departments for Yachting World Magazine and Thoroughbred and Classic Cars with IPC Business Press before furthering her career at Christies of London in their classic car department. Came back to the U.S. in 1990 and worked in San Francisco for a P.R. and publishing company before branching out into the sales and hospitality business.
The crew are like ninjas with the cleaning. I never saw them.
More San Francisco Bay Cruises
One of the prettiest things to see in San Francisco are the white sailboats on the blue waters of the bay. Going out on one of them is even better!
The San Francisco Sailing Company runs several bay tours on their sailboats that I highly recommend. I went out on their 90-minute sailing tour…what a treat! It’s like being on a private yacht, fun and relaxing, with a mellow crew and free wine and beer. Leaves from Pier 39.
The price has gone up a bit since I went, $99 now, but you can often get these tickets half price through Goldstar check Goldstar to see if it’s available). If Goldstar doesn’t have tickets, you can book the sailing cruise at SF Sailing Tour.
See photos of the cruise, and details about the trip, at sailboat cruise.
Note: the current Rocket Boat was retired in 2019. They’re were going to introduce a new version of the Rocket Boat in the spring of 2020, but that was delayed by Covid. And there is still no Rocket Boat as of 2022.
If you’re up for a wild ride, try the Rocket Boat, run by the Blue and Gold Fleet from Pier 39. High speed, sea spray and rock and roll. A 30 minute ride, $30 for adults, kids less. I had a great time on this one! The Rocket Boat operates May through October. Goldstar often has half-price tickets for this one you can check for them at Rocket Boat tours.
For more details on what the trip is like, see my page on the Rocket Boat ride.
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A One Of A Kind Experience
- Ferry service to Sausalito, as well as cruise and sightseeing tickets can be purchased directly from this site and at the Box Office at PIER 39. Tickets to Harbor Bay, Main Street Alameda, Oakland, Richmond, Seaplane Lagoon, South San Francisco, Vallejo, Oracle Park and Chase Center can also be accessed on this site. General information is also available by calling 415-705-8200.
- Multi-language audio tours on the San Francisco Bay Cruise and Escape From the Rock Cruise around Alcatraz Island, are available in nine languages: English, Spanish, Mandarin, Italian, French, Japanese, Korean, German & Taiwanese. Please bring your Wi-Fi enabled device to access the audio tour.
- Boat tours are offered daily and there are special seasonal events and charter boats available for your private event or celebration. For charter information and custom tour services, please call 415-705-8203.
Box Office Hours
The Blue & Gold Fleet Box Office at PIER 39 is open 7 days a week: Monday – Thursday 10:15am 6:45pm
The Pier 41 Box Office is temporarily closed.
Wine Tasting On The Bay
Join us aboard our classic yacht, Wine Therapy, the Bays first and only floating wine bar! Youll enjoy a Wine Country experience without leaving the City.
Our tour takes you on an unforgettable cruise around the San Francisco Bay, while you enjoy the largest wine selection of any boat on the Bay. The captain brings you up close to the San Francisco City front, and past many famous landmarks and attractions. Our boat is the perfect size, allowing everyone to have an intimate journey. Youll experience San Francisco from unique vantage points, while having the opportunity to take iconic photos of the world-famous skyline and wildlife along the route.
It is the perfect way to relax, have fun and get a great overview of the area. We have an indoor heated cabin with large windows for amazing views and our 360 degree walkway around the boat is perfect for taking photos. Also available for private charter.
Cheers from Wine Therapy!
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Golden Gate Bay Cruise
Tour Length: 60 minutes
As I mentioned in my intro, this is by far the most popular cruise and a go to for many first-time visitors. It offers a great overview of the SF Bay both from a sightseeing and history perspective.
These San Francisco boat cruises leave from Fisherman’s Wharf several times a day. It’s another reason why they are so popular–because they run the most often.
These San Francisco bay tours are offered by both the Gold and Blue Fleet and the Red and White Fleet. I’ve been on the water with both companies several times and they both offer great service. The only difference is that the Gold and Blue Fleet provides their narration over loudspeakers on the boat while Red and White Fleet hands out individual headsets.
One benefit to the headsets with Red and White is that they offer narration in several languages, so this is something to consider if English is your second language.
Both SF cruise companies follow almost the same route. The boat cruise leaves from Fisherman’s Wharf and starts out along the northern waterfront. You head west past several SF sights including Fort Mason, the and the Palace of Fine Arts.
You will then ride by Fort Point National Historic Site as you head to the main attraction – the Golden Gate Bridge. After you float under the Golden Gate Bridge, you turn around for a second time under the bridge. You will head to the northern side of the bay. You’ll pass Sausalito, Angel Island and take some time cruising past Alcatraz Island.
Check Out Your Options Below Deck:
We have tours running daily to see the sea lions, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and more. With tour options ranging from wine tasting on the bay, to narrated historical tours, to nature tours, we have every top-rated public tour in San Francisco. Click below to find your best way to see the City by the Bay!
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Fishing Boat Bay Cruises
Fishing boats, a traditional sight along San Franciscos waterfront, usually take chartered fishing trips. Some also take visitors on open load bay cruises. Head to the docks around Jones and Jefferson Streets. Check out Chuckys Pride Sportsfishing, Lovely Martha Sport Fishing, Captain Joes Sportsfishing Charter, Silver Fox Sportsfishing & Tours and Wacky Jacky to see if theyre taking out bay cruises that day. Its as authentic as it gets.
Fun Attractions For Everyone
Head to PIER 39 to explore a variety of attractions exclusive to The PIER. Sail the Bay aboard one of PIER 39s many water attractions, then discover 20,000 local sea creatures at Aquarium of the Bay. You can also enjoy free daily shows by local street performers at the smartwater Stage, as well as musicians in the PIER 39 Entrance Plaza.
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Ensure Your Special Requests Are The Only Thing Your Guests Talk About
We do our best to accommodate your every request at Empress Events. Let us know if you want unusual foods, top-shelf liquors, or if you have eccentric instructions. If you want something special, please ask us. Whatever your unique requirements, you have but to inquire and we’ll jump through hoops to make it a reality.
San Francisco Cruise Tour
Take advantage of prime photo opportunities with unobstructed views in every direction aboard Blue & Gold Fleets 60-minute San Francisco Bay Cruise. Our most popular cruise for 40+ years will have you sailing underneath the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, past the famous PIER 39 sea lions, around mysterious Alcatraz Island and along San Franciscos historic waterfront, revealing the citys fascinating skyline. This comfortable San Francisco Bay Cruise tour has both indoor and outdoor seating with full narration describing major landmarks as you sail by them. You havent experienced San Francisco until youve taken a Bay Cruise. A free multi-language audio tour is now available in nine languages: English, Spanish, Mandarin, Italian, French, Japanese, Korean, German and Taiwanese. Please bring your Wi-Fi enabled device to access the tour.
Details on our San Francisco Cruise Tour/ Boat Tour/ Sightseeing Tours:
Available on board is a full bar with drinks and snacks .
Cruises Depart from Pier 39, Fishermans Wharf.
There are multiple daily departures from Pier 39 starting at 11:00am.
Please arrive at least 30 minutes prior to departure. Boarding on first-come, first-serve basis. Your ticket is valid for any departure time within 365 days from date of purchase.
Youth 5-17: $28
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Blue & Gold Fleet Ferries
In addition to their sightseeing cruises, Blue & Gold Fleet also offer ferry services between San Francisco and Sausalito, Tiburon, and Angel Island.
Each route runs regularly between approximately 9 am and 5 pm.
There is no guided commentary, however, they do offer great views of the area for a very affordable price.
From San Francisco: Ferry Service to Sausalito or Tiburon
- A 1-hour ferry that operates from 9:40 am – 5:20 pm
- Round Trip – $27.50/adult | $16/child/senior
From San Francisco to Angel Island
- Operates from 9 am – 5 pm
- Round Trip – $19.50/adult | $11/Children and Seniors
- Not Currently Available.
- Included with both the Go San Francisco Pass and Explorer Pass.
Reviews of Blue & Gold Fleet
Most people seem very happy with their experience using Blue & Gold Fleet’s ferry services .
Despite the lack of commentary, guests write that they were very happy with the low cost and high quality of the experience.
The Original San Francisco Bay Cruise
Launched in 1939 as part of the Golden Gate International Exposition, our Golden Gate Bay Cruise has been a highlight of any visit to San Francisco for nearly 80 years. Cruise along San Franciscos breathtaking waterfront, under the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, and loop closely around notorious Alcatraz Island. On our Golden Gate Bay Cruise, youll discover the citys colorful history and world-famous landmarks with personal headphone audio in 16 languages. During the Golden Gate Bay Cruise, you may also experience up-close wildlife encounters including seagulls, pelicans, and sea lions. At times, you may see even harbor porpoises and whales, so be alert!
Departing from the heart of historic Fishermans Wharf at Pier 43½, cruise alongside San Franciscos remarkable cityscape and view the lively neighborhood of North Beach, the famous swimming clubs of Aquatic Park, the historic vessels moored at Hyde Street Pier, the San Francisco Maritime National Park, and numerous other exciting sights along the way.
As you head west towards the Golden Gate Bridge, youll view Fort Mason and the Marina District, which was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Next, take in views of Crissy Field and the lush hillsides of the Presidio both former Army installations that are now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Dont miss incredible photo opportunities while cruising directly under the massive 4,200-foot long, 746-foot high span of the Golden Gate Bridge.
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Elegant Sightseeing & Dining Cruises
There is no better way to unwind and see the sights than on a 2 or 3-hour cruise on a large, luxury Hornblower yacht. Excellent service, elegant ambiance, good food prepared by local chefs with seasonal local ingredients, and spectacular views are a winning combination.
- San Francisco Supper Club Cruise navigates around the big bay for 3 hours on Friday and Saturday evenings, January November. The relaxed, sophisticated tone is set by the glass of champagne served upon boarding. Small-plate stations offer choices for every palate. Watch the city sparkling in evening lights from the decks or from viewing windows as you dance to music spun by a DJ.
- San Francisco Brunch Cruise, offered Saturdays and Sundays year-round, brings the hectic land sightseeing pace down a notch for 2 hours. The brunch buffet is loaded with choices, sparkling wine free-flows, live music plays in the background, and the cash bar serves favorite drinks.
- Begin your 3-hour San Francisco Mid-week Dinner Cruise or San Francisco Weekend Dinner Cruise by unwinding with cocktails on the deck as the grand yacht navigates past the twinkling City by the Bay. Its a gorgeous light show. Make your way to your table in the interior salons for a delicious, elegantly served dinner glancing, taking in bay front sights as they come into view through huge windows. Then dance to music spun by a DJ until the boat docks back at Pier E on the Embarcadero.