Dining cruises in San Francisco take a few different forms. There are brunch, lunch, and dinner cruises, and there are also specialty cruises, which are generally offered on holidays. The dining cruises in San Francisco are primarily offered by one company, Hornblower Cruises and Events, so their specific offerings, and how to book them, will be our focus, but as we conclude we will also touch on a couple of other dining cruise possibilities for the San Francisco Bay. Essentially, we have put together a brief guide to the main dining cruises in San Francisco, which can be consulted as you look for and book a dining cruise in the Bay Area.
When searching for dining cruises in San Francisco, Hornblower will come up again and again, and odds are they will be the company you end up booking with for the simple reason that they offer the most cruises. The main source for information about Hornblower’s cruises is, as you might expect, the Hornblower website, and we recommend using this site for researching your cruise. All the different cruises are organized in one place, and the information they supply, being straight from the horse’s mouth, will presumably be the most accurate.
It is advisable to book directly with Hornblower unless you are able to secure a better deal through a third-party vendor. We came across a few different sites that sell Hornblower cruises, but we aren’t able to find any that offered cheaper prices – indeed, they were always more. For example, there is a company called All San Francisco Tours, and despite their insistence that they offer the lowest prices, we weren’t able to figure out an instance in which they offered a cheaper cruise for Hornblower. Hornblower offers a Champagne Brunch Cruise on Sundays for $72, and All San Francisco Tours offers the same cruise for $96.67. Ironically, they list this price right alongside a message that reads “we guarantee we’re cheaper.” Their price for the Hornblower Dinner Cruises is also substantially more expensive. We found the same results on Viator, which isn’t surprisingly given that Viator appears to own All San Francisco Tours (and makes the same “lowest price” guarantee). So, you can arrive at booking a Hornblower cruise in San Francisco a number of different ways, and our advice is to always check the price you are being offered against whatever it is that Hornblower officially advertises. (For the record, Viator, which is owned by TripAdvisor, does appear to take their guarantee seriously, or in any event we have no reason to doubt this, so if you find a cheaper ticket price, they will refund the difference in price.)
Once more, Hornblower dominates the San Francisco dining cruise industry, so you will keep coming back to these cruises regardless of what kind of dining cruise you are looking for. If you are looking for brunch or dinner cruises, it is likely you’ll come across Hornblower’s regularly scheduled brunch and dinner cruises first, and if you are looking for a dining cruise for a specific holiday (like Valentine’s Day), Hornblower will also be on top of your search results. However, it is worth keeping in mind that San Francisco Bay can be approached from multiple locations, and thus there are dining cruises in the bay that don’t leave from San Francisco (Commodore Cruises & Events, based in Alameda, is an example of a company that offers such cruises). Finally, we found one example, offered by Red and White Fleet, of a “Dining Cruise Combo,” which isn’t actually a dining cruise, but rather a cruise combined with dinner that is offered at a restaurant near the cruise departure point.
So, if you are looking to take a dining cruise in San Francisco, you will very likely be sailing with Hornblower, but there are at least a couple of other possibilities to consider if none of Hornblower’s options appeal to you.