San Diego Harbor Excursion
Whale Watching FAQ's
Do you really see whales?
Yes. San Diego is one of the top gray whale watching destinations in the world.
Should I make reservations?
Yes. Reservations are strongly recommended due to the popularity of this tour. There is the chance we will sell out on busy days, especially on the weekends. For reservations, call 619-234-4111 ext. 0.
What day of the week is better?
Your chances of seeing whales are the same no matter what the day of the week, however, weekend tours tend to be more crowded.
How far will we cruise into the ocean?
In the beginning of the season, the southbound whales swim closer to the coast, so the maximum distance is about 3-5 miles. Toward the end of the season, when the northbound whales swim further out, we can cruise up to 9-12 miles off the coast.
What time should I be there?
Allow enough time for traffic, find parking and to check in for your boarding pass. The morning cruise boards at 9:15am and the afternoon cruise boards at 1:00pm. Seating is on a first come, first served basis. If you prefer a specific seating area, be early so you can be the first in line.
Where should I park?
Gated paid parking is available at the Five Star parking lot across the street at the corner of Broadway and Harbor Drive. Look for “Cruise Ship Terminal” Parking. All day parking is $12. Click here for Map & Directions
Where do we board?
Boarding is located at 990 N. Harbor Drive, just south of the foot of Broadway and N. Harbor Drive. Look for the Flagship Cruises & Events ticket booth with the black awning for check in. Once you have your boarding pass, you will be boarding15 minutes before departure.
Where do I pick up my tickets?
Pick up your tickets at the Flagship-San Diego Harbor Excursion ticket booth located at 990 N. Harbor Drive.
What should I wear?
We suggest dressing in layers, as the temperature/winds are often unpredictable. Be prepared for cool weather even if it’s sunny outside. It is also recommended that you bring sunscreen and a hat.
Do you see more whales in the morning or afternoon?
Your chances of seeing whales are the same on the morning or afternoon cruise.
Can I touch the whales?
What else do you see?
In addition to California gray whale adults and calves, you could also see finback whales, blue whales, humpback whales, minke, killer, and false killer whales. Additionally, you could see pods of hundreds of dolphins including risso's, common, and white sided, and other marine life such as sea lions and a variety of coastal birds.
Can I bring food or drink on board?
You may bring along snacks or sandwiches, but no large containers or coolers are allowed. No alcohol or glass containers are to be brought on board. We have a snack bar plus hot and cold beverages available on board for purchase as well.
Will I get seasick?
If you tend to have a problem with motion sickness, there is a chance you could get sea sick. It is recommended you take Sea sickness medications before boarding the vessel. Wrist bands for motion sickness also work well. Either can be purchased at most drug stores.
Is seating indoors or outdoors?
We provide both indoor and outdoor seating on our vessel.
What if it rains?
Tours are not necessarily cancelled due to rain, however if there is a wind advisory or if weather conditions are extremely poor, then it’s possible the tour will be cancelled by our Captain the morning of. We will do our best to contact you with the phone number you provided if a tour is cancelled. Should your tour be cancelled, then you have a choice to either reschedule your tour for another date, or receive a full refund.
Are your whale sightings guaranteed?
Yes! That means if you don’t see whales you will be issued a "whale check" that is good for another whale watching cruise, good for any day of the week. Or, if you prefer, you may request a ticket for a 1 or 2 hour narrated tour instead.
Why are you different from other whale watching companies?
Flagship-San Diego Harbor Excursion is the only company whose tours are guided by experts from Birch Aquarium at Scripps, now celebrating our 13th year of partnership. Proceeds from each tour help support Birch Aquarium at Scripps’ education and conservation programs.
Is the boat wheelchair accessible?
The vessel and interior main deck are ramp accessible, however the exterior top deck and restrooms are not.
Are your boats safe?
Yes, all of our vessels are inspected regularly and are 100% Coast Guard Certified.
Is Smoking allowed?
No, smoking is not allowed on the vessel.