Hornblower Summer Whale & Dolphin Watching Adventures in San Diego, CA

Hornblower Cruises & Events970 North Harbor DriveSan Diego, CA 92101
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Summer Whale & Dolphin Watching Adventures is not currently available.

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Come aboard for an unforgettable experience and learn from trained naturalists called “Whalers” about marine mammals, San Diego Bay and Hornblower’s local initiatives created to reduce our environmental impact. Hornblower whale watching ships offer comfortable seating indoors and outdoors, and refreshments.

Good To Know

from Ashley, one of our San Diego Travel Experts
  • Summer whale watching tours available into September.
  • View the famous Blue Whales, sea lions and dolphins.
  • Certified naturalists narrate tour.
  • Sails rain or shine with U.S. Coast Guard approval.
  • Casual attire required.
  • Wear a light jacket.
  • Have been operating for over 30 years.
  • Boarding time is 30-minutes prior to departure.
  • Tour duration: approx. 3.5 hrs.


from Summer Whale & Dolphin Watching Adventures
If you love whales, dolphins, sea lions, and sea birds, hop on board for a breathtaking experience on the open ocean. We’ll speed out to sea on one of our large, comfortable yachts and pass barking sea lions and pods of leaping dolphins as we search for the legendary blue whales. As we make our 4-hour tour, we’ll be treated to a live narration by our experienced captain and our on-board naturalist (from the San Diego Natural History Museum). You’ll stay cozy and comfortable with both indoor and outdoor seating and a snack bar featuring hot food, a full bar, and souvenirs.

4-hour Whale & Dolphin Watching excursion in San Diego
Opportunity to spot whales, sea lions, dolphins and harbor seals
An exclusive look at local environmental efforts
Professional live narration on marine life from our expert captains and volunteer naturalists from the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT)
Snack bars featuring hot food, full bar and souvenirs
Climate-controlled indoor seating
Views of famous San Diego landmarks


NOTE: The whale watching vessel cruises in the open ocean. Our yacht is the most comfortable yacht in San Diego, due to stabilizers that greatly reduce the yacht's motion. Still, if seasickness is a concern, getting fresh air on the sun deck or taking over-the-counter anti-seasickness medicine prior to your cruise might help.

No outside food or beverage is allowed onboard the yacht. For your convenience, we have a fully stocked snack bar and full beverage bar available to purchase on board.

Tripster Customer Reviews

7 Reviews
Anna Kaminska
Issaquah, WA
1 Review
Verified Traveler
"Wonderful experience"
March 2015
The crew was very friendly and experienced. We could to see plenty of dolphins and two Humpback whales. It was a breathtaking moment to be able to see these huge creatures very close to the boat.
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Tip: It is advised to take worm clothes. The wind could be very cold.

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Cathy lennon
Phoenix, AZ
1 Review
Verified Traveler
"loved it"
March 2015
It was just perfect. Lots of whales and dolphins. Perfect trip
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Tip: it can be chilly out on the water.

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Emily Armstrong
Ivins, UT
1 Review
Verified Traveler
"Whale Watching"
March 2015
Wonderful Experience! We came from Utah and I brought my three kids. We had a wonderful experience and saw whales, dolphins and sea lions. An experience we will never forget. We plan on incorporating this experience again into our San Diego trip next year! Definitely a must when in San Diego! I grew up in Carlsbad and never went whale watching. This was a wonderful experience for my family!
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Tip: Bring warm clothes!

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Everett James
Peoria, AZ
2 Reviews
Verified Traveler
"Whale watching Tour 2015"
March 2015
We waited 10 years to take this Whale watching Tour! We figured what better time to take it then to celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. The tour was wonderful, and we saw five whales. We would recommend this tour to our friends and family.
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Tip: Be sure to dress warm, and sit by a speaker so you can hear the captain.

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Stephen Campbell
Upland, CA
1 Review
Verified Traveler
"whale watching with the Navy"
February 2015
We had a great experience, following 7 gray whales to the Mexican border. A Navy task group was returning to port on the same afternoon, so we also saw a parade of naval vessels.
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Tip: Weather was perfect

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Denette Hill
2 Reviews
Verified Traveler
"Whale Watching"
January 2015
we saw some whales but because we were so far away from them you could not really tell what you were looking at. The ship also had a sewer problem and the smell was terrible.
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Tip: you do not get a close look at the whales. the ship is required to stay 100 yards away.

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cathy mayer
Escondido, CA
1 Review
Verified Traveler
"Whaling with Family"
January 2015
Took my family whaling for my sisters birthday.
Was a wonderful and relaxing adventure.
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Tip: Dress warm and in layers, also good idea to bring a pair of binoculars.

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TripAdvisor Reviews
TripAdvisor user image
Walnut Creek, California
"Nice afternoon cruise"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed November 03, 2019 NEW
Decided to finally see San Diego from the water. Nice relaxing cruise and fun. Great narrator during the cruise. Was not dissapointed.
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Vancouver, Washington
"Boat trip sinks"
TripAdvisor user rating 2 out of 5
Reviewed October 20, 2019 NEW
We recently went on a horn blower cruise. It was supposed to be music, hor devours and a cocktail service. We had been on the cruise previously and had a wonderful time. Thought we knew what to expect. WRONG. We started out in the lower cabin where the air conditioning was set much lower than necessary. It was cold! Too cold to the point where it was truly unbearable. We ended up outside where it was much warmer. The food was very limited to crackers and cheese. Occasionally a server would enter the room with a small tray of food that went to those people standing in the cracker line, never making it to the rest of the cabin. Very disappointing. And the music, it was played way too loud where normal conversation was impossible. We asked the dj to turn it down which he did, only to turn it back again? It was a most uncomfortablde evening, and not cheap!! Never again! Ext time I’ll .
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Lancaster, California
"Hornblower dinner cruise"
TripAdvisor user rating 4 out of 5
Reviewed October 19, 2019 NEW
The 3 hour dinner cruise was really lovely. The dining area has white table linens and upscale settings and food. The food was very good. It is basically set up as a fine dining atmosphere. But they had a major damper, the music. They could have been playing beautiful music - perhaps of a romantic nature or easy saks music, that type of thing. But the DJ played very rowdy dance beats. It was awful and literally stole away the mood - was hard to take on a 3 hour cruise that would otherwise have been perfect. I asked him twice (nicely) to play something pretty but he just couldn't bring himself to do that. It is mostly what I remember about the cruise - the noise. It isn't supposed to be a party boat. It's supposed to be conducive to fine dining on the moonlit water. Also, 3 hours is a long time. Perhaps 2.5 hours would be better.
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Boise, Idaho
"It's A Boat"
TripAdvisor user rating 3 out of 5
Reviewed October 03, 2019
If you are looking to see whales and other marine life make sure you book the right venue! The Harbor Cruise is simply going (SLOW) around the harbor. Yes, you see LOTS of military boats and YES the crew members give you great history and information about the boats and helicopters, but being a non-military person it was boring to me. At least it was a boat and nice to be on the water. Highlight...the photo opp's SD skyline.
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San Diego, California
"HornBlower cruise"
TripAdvisor user rating 4 out of 5
Reviewed September 30, 2019
We did the Sunday brunch buffet. It is great for families, friends or couples. It is a buffet so there is a lot of selection but as one would expect the hotest dishes at times and it is mass produced. For the adults there are bottom less Momoso's
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Summer Whale & Dolphin Watching Adventures is located at Hornblower Cruises & Events970 North Harbor DriveSan Diego, CA 92101
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Frequently Asked Questions about Summer Whale & Dolphin Watching Adventures

If one or more people in my party are not able to make it or we miss the cruise departure time will we receive a refund?
No. Once payment is received cruises are non-refundable. With a 48-hour or better notice we will be happy to reschedule your cruise date or issue a gift certificate for the amount paid. Cruises are non- refundable and non-transferable within 48 hours of your cruise. We do not compensate for no-shows or late arrivals.

Is gratuity included?
A service charge is collected at the time of reservation, related to the cruise and the service included in the ticket. If you wish to purchase additional beverages or food enhancements onboard, we recommend you leave a gratuity onboard based on the quality of service provided to you by your server.
What happens if it rains or snow?
Hornblower sails rain or shine. In the case of severe weather conditions or upon the direction of the U.S. Coast Guard, we will remain dockside, but provide the full dining service.

What happens if I do not see whales?
If some type of whale is not sighted on your whale watching cruise, you will receive a pass good to return for a Whale Watching Cruise or 1 or 2 Hour Harbor Cruise from Hornblower San Diego.

Are there any age restrictions on your cruises?
There are no age restrictions for most of our cruises. All minors require adult supervision. Please call with questions about any of our special event cruises, as minors are not restricted, but the cruise may not be appropriate for all age groups.
Do you offer any children discounts?
Children under 4 are complimentary.

What is the dress attire for the cruises?
Casual attire, such as shorts and t-shirts are appropriate. We recommend bringing along a light jacket or wrap as it may get breezy on board, especially for those cruises that occur out on the open ocean.
What time do I board the ship?
Boarding time is usually 30 minutes prior to departure for all cruises. Please check your boarding time when making your reservation.

Is smoking allowed?
Smoking is allowed on the outside decks only with the exception of Harbor Tours and Whale Watching Cruises. Please dispose of all refuse in proper receptacles. Do not throw anything into the water. Please help us keep our harbors clean.
Can we meet the Captain and visit the pilot house?
Yes. Guests are welcome to come and meet the Captain and the First Officer. However, for safety and security reasons, we ask that you check with our staff onboard before visiting the pilot house. We want to ensure that all passengers and crew are kept safe and that the captain is not distracted while performing essential duties.

Are you regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard?
Our vessels are all subject to inspections by the U.S. Coast Guards and our crew are all properly licensed. We also follow Marsec security guidelines. Should the Marsec security level be elevated, we may opt to increase security measures onboard our vessels to insure everyone’s safety. The U.S. Coast Guard requires all passengers over 18 years of age to have valid photo identification. Please make sure to have your photo ID available at boarding.

Are life preservers on board?
Each vessel is 100% Coast Guard certified with life preservers and all required lifesaving equipment, including child life vests.
Is the ship handicapped accessible?
Hornblower does have accessible yachts in the fleet. However, not all yachts and decks are accessible. Please call 888-467-6256 to ensure handicap accessibility for the date you are planning to cruise.
Will I get seasick?
The vast majority of our guests experience no discomfort at all as we do not leave the calm waters of the harbor. If you tend to have a problem with motion sickness, you may experience seasickness. If you are sailing on one of our whale watching cruises, we do go out into the open ocean and as a result, the chance of getting seasick increases. For these cruises, we recommend that if you are prone to motion sickness that you take advantage of a number of preventative measures that are available to you.

Where are you located?
In San Diego, we have three main locations.  Please check your confirmation to determine which is the correct location for your event. 
  • Our main ticket booth, is located at 970 N. Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
  • Our secondary ticket booth is located at Grape Street Pier at 1800 N. Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
  • Our offices and event space are located at The Abbey at 2825 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103

Does Hornblower validate parking?
We do not validate for parking. Parking fees are typically $10.