California
Boat Tours & River Cruises

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Our most recommended California Cruises & Boat Tours

Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

1. Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

The tour departs from Monterey Old Fisherman’s Wharf, where the boat sets sail into the harbor, home to breathtaking sea views. As the tour leaves the dock, catch a glimpse of the hundreds of Californian Sea Lions inside the harbor. Take advantage of the view and snap a photo to capture the memory. Upon leaving the harbor, the boat passes the historic Cannery Row and then enters the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Monterey is one of the world’s best locations for whale watching due to the deep submarine canyon close to shore. This is where the search for the wonders of the bay’s marine life begins. With whales spotted almost every day, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Keep your eyes peeled as you scan the water for the abundance of marine life that lives here. Search for feeding humpback whales, a variety of dolphin species, porpoises, blue whales, fin whales and more. As you sail, listen to the onboard biologist provide fascinating insight into the creatures of the bay, and what is done to protect them. During the summer/ fall season, the tour will focus on feeding whales that come to the bay to feast on small fish and krill. You can expect to see humpback whales daily but, you may also see blue whales, fin whales, gray whales (finishing migration), orcas and a variety of other dolphin species. During the winter season, the tour will focus on migrating whales. One of largest movements of mammals on earth happens just off the coast of Pacific Grove, CA – the south end of Monterey Bay. Gray whales pass by the coast, about a 30-minute ride from Monterey Harbor. Due to the short distance from the “gray whale super highway”, the trips can be shorter in duration for the winter time.

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San Diego: Harbor Cruise

2. San Diego: Harbor Cruise

See San Diego's best sights. Learn about the city and enjoy a cruise on the bay. Depending on the option booked, this tour takes you under the Coronado Bridge, past military ships, waterfront landmarks, and marine life for a look at San Diego's scenic beauty and fascinating history. This tour’s luxury ships offer three levels with comfortable indoor and outdoor seating, 360-degree views, and an on-board snack bar serving snacks, soda, beer, wine and cocktails (available for purchase). This is a great way to experience San Diego from the water.

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San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

3. San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

Cruise around the Golden Gate Bay on a boat tour. Enjoy informative commentary, see sights like Alcatraz Island, and purchase food and drink from the onboard bar. Launched in 1939 as part of the Golden Gate International Exposition, this 1-hour cruise has been a highlight of any visit to San Francisco for over 75 years. With 8-14 departures daily from Fisherman's Wharf, you will sail along San Francisco's breathtaking waterfront, under the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, and close to the notorious Alcatraz Island. Discover San Francisco's fascinating history, brought to life through audio commentary broadcast in 16 languages via personal headphones. Look out for wildlife along the way, including pelicans, sea lions, and even dolphins and whales. Sail past the lively neighborhood of North Beach, the famous swimming clubs of Aquatic Park, the historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier, and San Francisco Maritime National Park, before heading west towards Golden Gate Bridge. Enjoy views of Crissy Field and the lush hillsides of the Presidio, before cruising under Golden Gate Bridge. Steam back into the Bay, traveling past the wildlife reserves of the Marin Headlands, and the legendary town of Sausalito, once home to the 1960s’ flower generation. With Angel Island State Park to your left, cruise around infamous Alcatraz. After a full hour of exciting sights, the barking sea lions at Pier 39 welcome you back to Pier 43 1/2. A full bar with drinks, snacks and merchandise, including logo wear, is available at reasonable prices on board the iconic red and blue sea vessels.

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San Diego: Dinner Cruise

4. San Diego: Dinner Cruise

The three-hour Dinner Cruise combines culinary excellence – think crisp salads, braised ribs and oven roasted salmon entrees, and luscious desserts – with unforgettable scenery and ambient music.  This Nightly Dinner cruise is famous around the world and is compared to the dinner cruises in New York and in Paris. San Diego’s dinner cruise combines breathtaking city views, great food, and drinks.  Stroll the spacious decks, watch the sunset before dinner. Dinner is buffet-style with an elaborate wine list, upgrades and additions, and vegetarian option. After dinner, listen to relaxing music, as you enjoy your dessert and coffee. Photos are taken at beginning of the cruise, can be purchased at the end! You’ll be thrilled to know that your dining experience does not have cruise-style seating, you’ll have privacy at your table and not be seated with strangers.

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San Francisco: 1-Hour Bay Cruise by Boat

5. San Francisco: 1-Hour Bay Cruise by Boat

Enjoy a 1-hour journey along San Francisco's historic waterfront and experience the thrilling history of the San Francisco Bay, with all the sound and glory it deserves. The 1-hour non-stop Bay Cruise takes you past the famous PIER 39 sea lions and along San Francisco’s historic waterfront, revealing the city’s fascinating skyline. Relax in comfort, with both indoor and outdoor seating, and enjoy a full narration describing major landmarks as you sail by. See sights like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the iconic San Francisco skyline as you go. Whether it’s your first time to San Francisco, or your 10th visit, the Bay Cruise is something you should experience at least once in your life. You will get a complimentary souvenir map, which is available in nine languages, and if you get hungry, there’s a full-service snack bar on board with food and drink available to purchase.

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San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

6. San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

Hop on board a boat and cruise around Alcatraz Island and other sights of San Francisco Bay on this round trip journey. Benefit from a straight-to-the-gate access ticket and informative commentary as you go. Cruise San Francisco Bay and sail under the Golden Gate Bridge on a 90-minute narrated tour by boat around Alcatraz Island. Skip the box office line and go straight to the gate with your ticket. See Alcatraz island from the water while listening to accounts of the chilling escape attempts and the notorious criminals that called Alcatraz prison home. Enjoy a cruise with food and drink available to purchase onboard. Cruise full circle around Alcatraz Island, allowing you to view every angle of this mysterious island, which housed famous inmates such as Al Capone, Billy Cook the Killer, and Clyde Johnson, whose escape attempt is legendary. Gain a clear picture of what life in this maximum-security prison was like when it was the most feared institution in the American penal system.

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San Diego: Whale Watching Tours

7. San Diego: Whale Watching Tours

Marvel at the amazing views of San Diego Bay as you look out for sightings of marine wildlife including dolphins, sea lions, gray whales, and more. Your tour will be led by ocean experts as you get a deeper understanding of the ocean ecosystem and the sea creatures that live in it. Discover the San Diego coast on a two-story whale watching yacht, featuring 360-degree views from the main level and upper sundeck, multiple restrooms, and free guest WiFi. You will follow the whale migration path to bring you up close for the best sighting spots, which change every day. Early in the season, whales swim closer to the coast, so the maximum distance is about 3-5 miles. On their return trip, northbound whales swim further out, up to 9-12 miles off the coast. Make sure to wear layers as it can get pretty cool on the bay and don't forget to wear your sunscreen and hat while on this excursion. Bring your camera to capture all the memories you'll make on this exciting adventure.

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90-Minute San Diego SEAL Tour

8. 90-Minute San Diego SEAL Tour

Splash into San Diego’s most unique sightseeing tour. See the best of San Diego on land and in the water. Take a seat on the San Diego SEAL tour, an adventure that takes you through the most interesting sights in the city before heading out into the harbor of San Diego. Your 90-minute fully-narrated tour will wind through picturesque San Diego streets before splashing into the water for a cruise of San Diego Bay. On land, you will pass the Embarcadero and San Diego International Airport. You will learn about the importance of the military in San Diego and other San Diego icons as you travel along the scenic coast. Once you splash into the Big Bay, you will glide by Navy ships, tugboats and fishing vessels throughout the harbor as you listen to stories of early sailors. Experience the history and ecological wonders of San Diego in the comfort and security of a virtually unsinkable Hydra-Terra. Driven by our experienced captains, these amphibious vehicles are specially designed and built to navigate on both sea and land. Each one is Coast Guard approved and meets all passenger vehicle and department of transportation requirements to ensure safety and comfort for all. Both tour bus and boat, the San Diego SEAL journeys through San Diego by land and sea. Our unique amphibious vehicles are Coast Guard approved, ensuring you a safe, one of a kind experience. Relax and enjoy amazing views during the best sightseeing adventure in San Diego.

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San Francisco: Bridge to Bridge Cruise

9. San Francisco: Bridge to Bridge Cruise

See both the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on a single boat tour with personal headphone audio included. Explore San Francisco's famous landmarks, history, natural history, architecture, and Native American culture on board this unique bay cruise. During the 90-minute round trip cruise you'll depart from Fisherman's Wharf, one of the city's busiest tourist attractions. From there, sail under the Golden Gate Bridge. Completed in 1937, the Golden Gate is one of the world's most famous and beautiful bridges, and was at one point the largest suspension bridge in the world. Cruise past Alcatraz Island, once home of one of the world's most infamous prisons, and take the chance to enjoy the stunning San Francisco waterfront. The boat will pass along the harbor before heading under the colossal San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Then it's time to head back to the charming city of San Francisco by the sea.

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South Lake Tahoe: Sightseeing Cruise of Emerald Bay

10. South Lake Tahoe: Sightseeing Cruise of Emerald Bay

Embark on a 2-hour sightseeing cruise starting in South Lake Tahoe either at sunset or during the day. Enjoy the scenic beauty while cruising 11 kilometers across the lake to Emerald Bay, one of the top ten most photographed places in the world. See the majestic mountains of South Lake Tahoe while onboard the world-class Tahoe Bleu Wave yacht. As you cruise, you will find indoor and outdoor seating with 360-degree panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, the snow-capped mountains, Fannette Island, Vikingsholm Castle, Eagle Waterfall, and the Rubicon. Navigate the pristine waters of Lake Tahoe while hearing your captain's narration about this lake. You may even get the chance to see a variety of wildlife such as the bald eagle, black bears, and wild geese. If you've chosen the sunset option, relax and watch the sun dip low below the sky.

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Other Sightseeing Options in California

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What people are saying about California

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 3,330 reviews

We were able to see the Golden Gate Bridge units full glory and up close. There was no need to stand in long lines just to get the glimpse of the bridge.

Relatively easy to get onto abs great on-ship food prices. Overall great experience for the price and an easy thing to add to your to-do list.

Our tour guide John was chatty, informative and a fantastic tour guide. We loved spending time with him Yesterday. From Sally & Sam

Fun and informative commentary. We had to turn back due to weather, but got a voucher to use for another time that won’t expire.

Knowledgeable naturalists add to trip. Clean ship and great experience. Would definitely book again.