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.
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.
Cruise To Angel Island
Angel Island is sometimes called the Ellis Island of the West, but it’s got more to see than the fascinating Immigration Station, and there are a couple ways to get there:
- Blue and Gold Fleet: Leaves from Pier 41 at Fisherman’s Wharf. They offer a visit to Alcatraz on the same day for an “Island Hop.”
- Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry: Leaves from the town of Tiburon.
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Sunset Bay Tours Of San Francisco
As an alternative to our daytime sightseeing cruises, enjoy sunset and twilight views when sailing San Francisco Bay aboard our relaxed 2-hour California Sunset CruiseSM from Spring to Fall, or the California Twilight CruiseSM in winter.
Included in the price of our evening tours are hearty appetizers from the buffet, a beer, wine or soda, and live guitar music, giving you a perfect opportunity to end your day while sharing drinks with friends aboard the boat in a casual atmosphere. Along the way, check out the stunning beauty of the San Francisco skyline, as you sail past Alcatraz Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, and the charming towns of Tiburon, Sausalito and Belvedere, where breath-taking mansions line the steep cliffs of Richardson Bay.
Our knowledge of the San Francisco Bay area is unsurpassed by other tour companies – Red and WhiteSM is the original guide of all San Francisco Bay cruises. But we don’t just offer bay cruises. Once you’ve seen San Francisco from the bay, join us for a hop-on hop-off bus tour and many other land-based adventures. .
Alaska Cruises From San Francisco
Sail from sunny California to glacier-clad Alaska, a journey thatll take you along the entire northern part of the West Coast. Cruise along Northern Californias redwood-topped coastal cliffs, past the countless sea stacks of the Oregon Coast and through the orca-inhabited waters of Washington and British Columbia.
On most cruises from San Francisco to Alaska, youll spend the first couple of days at sea. Once youre up north, a typical cruise, depending on your cruise line and itinerary, may include a stop or two at British Columbia destinations, such as Victoria and the famed Inside Passage.
In Alaska, you can immerse yourself in the local Alaskan lifestyle, enjoy delicious fresh-caught seafood, learn about Native Alaskan culture and gaze at breathtaking coastal landscapes.
Popular ports of call on San Francisco cruises to Alaska are Juneau, Skagway, Sitka and Ketchikan.
Additionallyand arguably the highlight of your tripmany itineraries include a visit to spectacular Glacier Bay National Park, as well as Icy Strait Point and Tracy Arm Fjord. These cruises usually take at least 10 days.
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Cruising From San Francisco
Thanks to its convenient location in the middle of Californiaand the west coast of the North American continentthe city is a strategic starting point for cruises to the northern wilds, the southern sun and the western islands.
Whichever region in and around the Pacific Ocean you desire to explore, San Francisco is a great city to begin your journey. On a San Francisco cruise, each corner of this vast ocean could bequite literallyat your doorstep, from Mexico to Alaska, Hawaii and even the Panama Canal.
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Cruise To Tour Alcatraz
If you want to tour the former prison on Alcatraz Island, don’t let the advertisements fool you. You can see the island from many cruises, but if you want to set foot on it, there’s only one choice: Alcatraz Cruises. They leave from Pier 33 near Fisherman’s Wharf. Combine this tour with a visit to Angel Island on the same day for an “Island Hop.” To ensure you get an Alcatraz tour when you want it, reserve at least one week in advance.
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Hawaiian Islands Cruises From San Francisco
Scared of flying but still want to fulfill your lifes dream of visiting Hawaii? Theres hardly a better way to do that than by going on a Hawaiian Island cruise from San Francisco. Board your ship at the Port of San Francisco, unpack only once, and settle in for a once-in-a-lifetime trip around whats arguably the worlds most famous archipelago.
Generally, cruises from San Francisco to Hawaii are round-trip sailings that last about 15 days . Youll spend a significant amount of your time at sea while you make your way to and from these volcanic islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Count on about half of the total number of days spent at sea. This, however, does allow for a super-relaxed cruise holiday. Because there are no new ports or destinations to explore each day, you have plenty of time to enjoy the ships amenities and services, spend time with your co-cruisers and unwind.
Once youre in Hawaii, youll get to visit several of the main islands, all of which have their own vibe and attractions. Explore the iconic city of Honolulu, visit Hilo and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, see Kauais sensational Na Pali Coast and Waimea Canyon, and/or explore the vibrant coastal towns of Maui.
Company Launching Pricy Riverboat Cruise From Sf To Stockton
Riverboat cruising, that seemingly luxurious European concept that gets advertised a lot to affluent seniors in between PBS shows, is coming to the Bay Area and NorCal but would you pay $12,000 to go from SF to Stockton and back via the Delta?
American Cruise Lines, which offers cruises on the Mississippi, in Puget Sound, around Alaska, and up the New England coast among other cruise routes, is launching its first California cruise next winter, out of the San Francisco Bay. Dubbed the San Francisco Bay Cruise, the eight-day and seven-night cruise will take passengers around the Bay, up the Delta, past Sacramento, and over to Stockton, where it will turn around and come back for an extra wine-tasting stop in Napa.
The company marketing copy touts that passengers will “learn the Gold Rush history of Sacramento Valley, and explore the natural beauty of the San Joaquin River and San Pablo Bay” in addition to tasting “the finest wines of Napa Valley.”
That all sounds good? But as the Chronicle reports, prices start at $6,000 per person and go up to nearly $12,000 per person for a “grand suite” with a private balcony. And this is ultimately a cruise to Sacramento and Stockton! It ain’t exactly the Danube!
But hey! No need to rent a car!
Day 7 is spent back in San Francisco, with a trip to Alcatraz and a tour of Ghirardelli Square and the wharves.
This trip is on a 99-room ship called American Jazz, which has six decks in total and a handful of sun decks and lounges.
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Best Cruises From San Francisco Ca
- Central America
Many of the worlds top cruise lines offer cruises from San Francisco. A world-class destination on its ownhome to the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Fishermans WharfSan Francisco is also a main departing point for cruises along the U.S. West Coast, as well as in the Pacific Ocean with all its tropical beauty and cultural diversity.
Also, how amazing is it that you can start, or finish, your dream cruise by exploring one of Americas1 greatest cities? The cruise destinations from San Francisco, too, are nothing short of superb, as you will see below.
Thrill Boat Rides & Cruises
Some visitors just want a thrill ride especially kids! Big, fast Rocket Boat delivers. Go fast, have a blast! May October only, its hard to miss the yellow and red go-fast boat at Pier 39. Tickets are first come, first served. Hop on, find a seat and zoom off listening to rock music. Flying full throttle on the 30-minute ride, Alcatraz, and the skyline are a blur. Crazy maneuvers are wild. Go under the Bay Bridge, past AT& T Park and see the skyline from the north and east.
RIB sightseeing on a Bay Voyager Cruise is an exciting option. Look for a close-to-the-water, 12-person rigid inflatable boat on Pier 39. Thats your ride! Climb aboard for a 90-minute, often wet, adventure to places you might otherwise not see. In addition to bayfront views, going under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz, Youll see sites of abandoned gold rush ships, go under the Bay Bridge, motor into estuaries, to the Port of Oakland and by AT& T Park.
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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
Transportation In San Francisco
Beyond the classic cable cars running widely through San Francisco, several modes of public transportation are popular in the city. For example, the BART can help you get from the airport into the city. The Muni is one public transit option, which includes bus, metro, and some cable car options, mostly above ground. Youll also find taxis, Lyfts, and Ubers aplenty in San Francisco.
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Cruises In San Francisco Bay
Welcome aboard the historic Red and White FleetSM- San Francisco’s original sightseeing adventure and only multilingual bay cruise! In operation since 1892, our family-owned fleet provides unique bay cruises from Pier 43½ in the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf.
Our cruise tours of San Francisco Bay take visitors to San Francisco’s biggest landmarks and premier attractions, including the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge and around notorious Alcatraz Island. Red and White’sSM boat cruises of San Francisco Bay not only are spectacular, but also a convenient way for visitors to discover the many famous sights of the City by the Bay in a relaxing and classic way.
After all, our boat tours of San Francisco Bay depart up to 17 times daily from Fisherman’s Wharf, feature indoor and outdoor seating, and have cash bars onboard. Plus, our daytime cruises include exclusive headphone audio in 12 languages, giving you the option to learn about San Francisco history and sights, or to simply kick back and enjoy the amazing views.
Don’t let your visit pass without taking a SF Bay cruise aboard the Red and WhiteSM, the original San Francisco tour provider. For more than 120 years, Red and WhiteSM has offered visitors and residents a variety of special SF Bay cruises, such as sunset journeys, bridge-to-bridge tours and more. We look forward to sharing our hometown also with you!
Mexico Cruises From San Francisco
Enjoy some Mexican flair, fiesta and food on a cruise from San Francisco to the Mexican Riviera . There are several itinerary options available, from short 4-day sailings to more extended and in-depth 10-day journeys. However much time you have, a Mexico cruise from San Francisco is always a fun experience.
The shorter itineraries usually dont go further than Ensenada, on the way possibly stopping in San Diego, while the longer sailings take in sun-soaked spots like Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. Again, ports of call differ between cruise lines and itineraries. However, each Baja California cruise from San Francisco offers you that fun, stress-free and everything-is-possible feel that only a Mexican holiday can provide.
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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.
San Francisco Dinner Cruises
Hornblower Dinner/Dance Cruise. Hornblower, a classy company that provides sailing trips on their yachts, has a San Francisco Bay dinner/dance cruise that is a lot of fun. Sailing around the bay on a yacht, dancing to a live band or DJ, and savoring a four-course meal…like watermelon and feta salad, crab gazpacho soup, chicken cordon-bleu, or maybe glazed salmon, with key lime pot de creme and macaroons, or perhaps berry parfait with Gran Marnier. Delightful!
I’ve been on several Hornblower evening cruises – a very professional outfit.
It’s magical to be out on the water at night with the city lights sparkling in the distance. The views of the city and the bridges at night were incredible, and the food was great! A fun San Francisco experience.
For all the details on our dinner cruise experience, plus photos and maps, see my page on the SF dinner cruise.
The Hornblower dinner/dance cruises are 2.5 hours , for $141.36 per person. For more info on cruise and booking, see Hornblower dinner cruise.
Goldstar.com often has discounted tickets for this cruise check for them at Goldstar tickets. We got our tickets through Goldstar for $96.50 each.
Sad to say, but Ride the Ducks closed their San Francisco operation on September 7, 2015, citing a difficult business environment, possibly related to a new requirement that tour guides can’t also be the bus drivers. They still run their boats in other cities, but no more quacking in SF, sniff.
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