I’ve lived in San Francisco for quite awhile now and still had never taken a cruise on the bay. Recently, I was invited on a Hornblower Cruise to celebrate the lighting of the Bay Bridge, which is an event that happened the weekend before Superbowl Sunday. Fireworks are part of the evening’s festivities and Hornblower offers cruises where you can also have dinner, dance to live entertainment and and view the fireworks and other festive lights from the deck. The views are spectacular as you leave the Embarcadero’s Pier 3, which is where you board, right at Washington Street. I’d recommend taking the bart to Embarcadero to avoid having to find parking or taking an Uber or taxi to take the stress out of your evening.
I love sunset cruises since you can catch a glimpse of late afternoon sun and of course catch both bridges in perfect light.
Later in the evening, the ambiance changes yet again….
Bear in mind that the above shots were taken on an iPhone, so they’re a bit grainy but it will give you an idea of the magic of the night.
Hornblower Cruises have been around for awhile, but under a different name in its earliest of days and today, they have a fairly large fleet. Many years ago, John Wayne used the restored 1942 minesweeper as his private getaway and Hornblower Cruises & Events continues to operate the same historic yacht in Newport Beach.
The company’s fleet topped 30 vessels in 2001 with the addition of the 2,200-passenger San Francisco Belle and it remains the largest dining yacht on the West Coast. Since then, the company has introduced the nation’s first hybrid ferry, Hornblower Hybrid, as well as Hornblower Infinity, a 1,000-passenger gem with private event spaces and an open-air deck set 65 feet off the water.
Hornblower Cruises & Events’ leaders also chartered a successful course by adding new port cities including nearby Lake Tahoe and parts of southern California. What’s nice is that you can charter your own cruise if you’d like with 20 or more people (great for anniversaries, birthday parties or corporate events) and they have specialty evening and brunch (day time) cruises as well throughout the year.
The Bay Lights and Fireworks Cruise is particularly special because of the vibrancy of the bay, the fireworks of course and the festive environment in downtown San Francisco on January 30. It’s a fabulous way to take in the city skyline and the glittering lights at night.
Their evening cruises vary of course, but generally you’ll get a three hour yacht cruise, a 3 or 4 course seated dinner, coffee, water and tea (wine, beer and cocktails available for purchase), live entertainment and dancing and of course, unique views of the Bay and in the case of the Bay Lights cruise, the extraordinary lights that come alive in late January. Our dinner came with a Wedge Salad with blue cheese dressing, smoked bacon, copped eggs, tomatoes and scallions, a creamy Clam Chowder with thyme and smoked bacon, and a choice of Grilled Mahi Loin with soy ginger glaze, barley risotto, and roasted vegetables, an organic Pan Roasted Chicken breast with roasted red bell pepper coulis, cannellini bean ragout, and bloomfelt spinach, a Stuffed Acorn Squash with cranberry apple quinoa and grilled veggies or their Porcini Crusted Petit Filet Mignon with porcini sauce, parmesan truffle mashed potatoes and Watsonville late harvest vegetables — Yum!
More information can be found at https://www.hornblower.com/.