Hornblower Dinner/Brunch Cruises

San Diego Skyline from Brunch Cruise

I think it’s time for a new feature on the blog. We’ll file these under “Tourist Traps You Should Get Caught In”, and man are we going to start it off right today. Now, you may think that someone suggesting any tourist trap should be pursued deserves to spend eternity running laps around the Colosseum in Rome, while being allowed only to find nourishment at a restaurant right in front called Luigi’s – where the decor consists of a fat and short mustached chef sculpture and the menus are printed in English (!) . However, I promise that I hate tourist traps an adequate amount for being a true adventure seeker like we claim to be around here – so give me a chance!

Kendall and I aboard the Hornblower Brunch Cruise

Kendall and I aboard the Hornblower Brunch Cruise

Our trap you should try today involves a medium-sized boat – a tool often used to hoard unsuspecting tourists in large droves. But on this boat, you won’t troll around a 500 yard length of the harbor while sitting on white painted metal benches. You’ll sit at a candle-lit table and eat a delicious meal as the San Diego scenery slips by. We’ve been on both a dinner cruise (for Valentine’s Day) and a brunch cruise (for my Mom’s birthday), so let us explore the details.

Kendall at our dinner cruise table

Kendall at our dinner cruise table

There are two main companies offering dinner cruises in San Diego: Flagship and Hornblower. We went with Hornblower each time as we found them a bit better on prices and menu options, but both get excellent reviews on Yelp and are very similar. As you board either the brunch or dinner cruise, you’ll be offered champagne or cider and seated at a table with an excellent view of the harbor. If you choose the brunch cruise, a very substantial buffet is available – a full breakfast selection, pasta salads, desserts, etc. The dinner cruise offers less choice, but you do get a three course meal. The quality of the food is good but isn’t something to write home about in itself – think something you’d pay about $15 for at a restaurant. After you eat, you’re free to explore the boat and walk to the outside decks to enjoy the scenery. The boats travel a decently large distance – Shelter Island through the Coronado Bridge. The dinner cruise includes dancing with a live DJ as well.

My family enjoying the scenery along San Diego Bay

My family enjoying the scenery along San Diego Bay

So yes, the price of entry isn’t primarily going toward providing you with an unforgettable culinary experience. What they’ve done with these cruises is zoomed out, and attempted to provide an experience that impresses on more levels. The price is what you might spend on a pricey brunch or dinner, but cruising around the harbor provides an experience that can’t quite be replicated at a land based location. So touristy or not, this is something you should give a try at least once.

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