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Whale Watching in San Diego 2013

January 25, 2013
Whale Watching in San Diego

(Photo Credit/Copyright: Julie Gelfat)

Thanks to a recent whale watching cruise with Flagship Cruises & Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego (UCSD), we can attest to the mighty and prolific presence of gray whales, dolphins, seals, and other marine creatures just off the point of the Cabrillo Monument. The moment of seeing a whale in person is truly amazing and it’s well worth the price of admission, so to speak.

Going out on a harbor cruise on San Diego Bay is always a real treat because it gives passengers a panoramic view of San Diego’s Downtown, Point Loma, North Island, as well as Harbor Island and Shelter Island. If you are visiting San Diego or are new to our city, this is a great way to get the lay of the land.

It was our first time cruising for cetaceans with experienced aquarium naturalists and it was well worth the time! The whale watching cruises off San Diego Bay are going on NOW until April 14, 2013. Cruises depart twice-daily from Flagship Cruises’ docks on San Diego’s Embarcadero in downtown. Tickets can be purchased online or at the ticket booth.

You don’t need any fancy equipment (like telescopes or binoculars) to see the whales, just use your peepers (eyes). Look out or listen for the whales blow spouts first and then you will see their large bodies move up and down through the water. The naturalists will keep you apprised with a great big shout of the whale’s location. Because these ocean mammals are so large, they aren’t hard to miss once you know where to look. The naturalists will also tell you more about the whales’ annual migration from the Bering Sea to Baja California. Please don’t hesitate to ask them questions about whales, dolphins and the like because they are on board to help you.

Whale Watching in San Diego

Travel Tips: If you’re prone to getting sea sick or nausea, be sure to visit a pharmacy and take some Dramamine or Bonine at least 1 hour before you go whale watching. Consuming ginger in any form is also supposed to ease the symptoms. It gets chilly out in the Pacific Ocean, so a windbreaker is a must. With any form of adventure, comfortable shoes are also advised. Snacks & drinks are available for purchase on the boat. Dramanine is also available at the snack bar.

We really had a wonderful time on this unforgettable whale watching cruise and strongly recommend taking advantage of this experience this year because of the plentiful whale sightings. On our cruise, we had the pleasure of meeting Nigella Hillgarth, Ph.D. who is the Executive Director of Birch Aquarium at Scripps. She was just as excited as the rest of the group on board to try to get that perfect shot of a whale’s fluke going up on its final descent before sounding. It’s not as easy as it looks but it sure is fun trying!

Travel Tip: Be sure to take a look at the weekly count of whales and dolphins that these whale watching cruises ‘catch’ here.

General Information

Twice-Daily Whale Watching Tours: 9:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. & 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.


  • $37 weekdays/$42 weekends for adults
  • $32 weekdays/$37 weekends for Seniors & Military
  • $18.50 weekdays/$21 weekends for Youth (4-12 with paid adult)

Ticket Booth & Main Boat Departure:

990 North Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92132

Parking & Transit Options:

  • 5 Star Parking (Corner of Broadway & Pacific Highway) – $12.00
  • USS Midway Parking lot – $7.00 for first 4 hours, $10.00 for 10 Hours, $12.00 all day

*Parking rates subject to change*

  • Taking the Trolley or the Bus?  Flagship Cruises is located just 2 blocks from the American Plaza/Santa Fe Depot Transit Station.
  • Taking the Train or the Coaster?  Flagship Cruises is located just 1 block from the Santa Fe Train Station.
  • Car2Go Members can park their electric cars for free at any of the 1-hour and over metered spots in the Downtown and Embarcadero area.

Need More Information? Please call Flagship Cruises & Events at (619) 234-4111.

Have a whale of a good time!

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