San Francisco
Boat Tours & River Cruises

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Our most recommended San Francisco Cruises & Boat Tours

San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

1. San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

Cruise around the Golden Gate Bay on a boat tour. Enjoy informative commentary, see sights like Alcatraz Island, and purchase food and drink from the onboard bar. Launched in 1939 as part of the Golden Gate International Exposition, this 1-hour cruise has been a highlight of any visit to San Francisco for over 75 years. With 8-14 departures daily from Fisherman's Wharf, you will sail along San Francisco's breathtaking waterfront, under the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, and close to the notorious Alcatraz Island. Discover San Francisco's fascinating history, brought to life through audio commentary broadcast in 16 languages via personal headphones. Look out for wildlife along the way, including pelicans, sea lions, and even dolphins and whales. Sail past the lively neighborhood of North Beach, the famous swimming clubs of Aquatic Park, the historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier, and San Francisco Maritime National Park, before heading west towards Golden Gate Bridge. Enjoy views of Crissy Field and the lush hillsides of the Presidio, before cruising under Golden Gate Bridge. Steam back into the Bay, traveling past the wildlife reserves of the Marin Headlands, and the legendary town of Sausalito, once home to the 1960s’ flower generation. With Angel Island State Park to your left, cruise around infamous Alcatraz. After a full hour of exciting sights, the barking sea lions at Pier 39 welcome you back to Pier 43 1/2. A full bar with drinks, snacks and merchandise, including logo wear, is available at reasonable prices on board the iconic red and blue sea vessels.

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San Francisco: 1-Hour Bay Cruise by Boat

2. San Francisco: 1-Hour Bay Cruise by Boat

Enjoy a 1-hour journey along San Francisco's historic waterfront and experience the thrilling history of the San Francisco Bay, with all the sound and glory it deserves. The 1-hour non-stop Bay Cruise takes you past the famous PIER 39 sea lions and along San Francisco’s historic waterfront, revealing the city’s fascinating skyline. Relax in comfort, with both indoor and outdoor seating, and enjoy a full narration describing major landmarks as you sail by. See sights like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the iconic San Francisco skyline as you go. Whether it’s your first time to San Francisco, or your 10th visit, the Bay Cruise is something you should experience at least once in your life. You will get a complimentary souvenir map, which is available in nine languages, and if you get hungry, there’s a full-service snack bar on board with food and drink available to purchase.

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San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

3. San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

Hop on board a boat and cruise around Alcatraz Island and other sights of San Francisco Bay on this round trip journey. Benefit from a straight-to-the-gate access ticket and informative commentary as you go. Cruise San Francisco Bay and sail under the Golden Gate Bridge on a 90-minute narrated tour by boat around Alcatraz Island. Skip the box office line and go straight to the gate with your ticket. See Alcatraz island from the water while listening to accounts of the chilling escape attempts and the notorious criminals that called Alcatraz prison home. Enjoy a cruise with food and drink available to purchase onboard. Cruise full circle around Alcatraz Island, allowing you to view every angle of this mysterious island, which housed famous inmates such as Al Capone, Billy Cook the Killer, and Clyde Johnson, whose escape attempt is legendary. Gain a clear picture of what life in this maximum-security prison was like when it was the most feared institution in the American penal system.

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San Francisco: Bridge to Bridge Cruise

4. San Francisco: Bridge to Bridge Cruise

See both the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on a single boat tour with personal headphone audio included. Explore San Francisco's famous landmarks, history, natural history, architecture, and Native American culture on board this unique bay cruise. During the 90-minute round trip cruise you'll depart from Fisherman's Wharf, one of the city's busiest tourist attractions. From there, sail under the Golden Gate Bridge. Completed in 1937, the Golden Gate is one of the world's most famous and beautiful bridges, and was at one point the largest suspension bridge in the world. Cruise past Alcatraz Island, once home of one of the world's most infamous prisons, and take the chance to enjoy the stunning San Francisco waterfront. The boat will pass along the harbor before heading under the colossal San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Then it's time to head back to the charming city of San Francisco by the sea.

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San Francisco: Waterfront Guided Tour and Alcatraz Ticket

5. San Francisco: Waterfront Guided Tour and Alcatraz Ticket

Meet your guide at the north end of Fisherman's Wharf at 9:30 AM and start your experience by taking in the amazing views of the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Hear how San Francisco transformed from a sleepy village to a booming port city when gold fever swept the nation in 1849. Learn about the life of the Italian chocolatier Domenico Ghirardelli at the famous former chocolate factory in Ghirardelli Square. Stroll along the fog-lined waterfront and drool over the numerous stalls selling crab and clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls. Walk a portion of the historic Barbary Coast trail while your guide tells you about it's colorful past. You and your group will then make your way to Pier 39 and admire historic ships in the harbor. Witness the colony of sea lions that have taken over many of its docks. Continue along the Embarcadero Promenade and learn about its evolution from a traditional maritime port to a modern urban waterfront filled with trendy restaurants and amusement piers. The walking tour concludes at Pier 33 at 10:45 AM, where you will present your photo ID to receive your 11:00 AM Alcatraz tickets. Board your ferry and enjoy a self-guided tour of Alcatraz upon the island.  Learn about the history of the cell house and its former residents with an award-winning audio tour available in multiple languages. You can expect to be done with the whole experience by around 2:30 PM.

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San Francisco Bay Sunset Cruise by Luxury Catamaran

6. San Francisco Bay Sunset Cruise by Luxury Catamaran

Take a relaxing 90-minute round trip boat trip onboard a luxury catamaran. See sea lions, famous sights, and sunset views of San Francisco as the sun dips below the Bay. Sail by Alcatraz Island, under the Golden Gate Bridge, and past Sausalito. Search for the famous Pier 39 sea lions and other kinds of sea life playing in the ocean. Cruise along the shore, gazing on the city skyline as you watch the magnificent sunset. Relax with a complimentary drink on board either a 55- or 65-foot catamaran. Both come complete with a protected viewing area, providing panoramic 360-degree viewing, in addition to canvas trampoline nets for the more adventurous who want to experience the sights in the bracing open air.

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San Francisco: Luxury Brunch or Dinner Cruise on the Bay

7. San Francisco: Luxury Brunch or Dinner Cruise on the Bay

Choose between a buffet brunch or plated dinner during this luxury cruise on San Francisco Bay. Enjoy on-board entertainment as you cruise by the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and other sights. Dazzling waves and soft breezes set the mood for this champagne brunch or luxury dinner cruise. Champagne Brunch CruiseThe brunch option offers a good-morning getaway featuring free-flowing mimosas and sparkling wine. Sit back and munch on a buffet stocked with classic breakfast dishes, lunch entrees, and desserts. Live music and views of San Francisco Bay’s renowned sights make this option the perfect way to unwind after a hectic week or celebrate a special event. Luxury Dinner CruiseThink of this as date night with a delicious, dynamic twist: When the sun sets and city lights twinkle from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate, your dinner cruise kicks into high gear. Get served a 3-course sit-down meal, including appetizers, salad, a choice of entrée, and dessert, with live music playing in the background. Sample Brunch Menu:Early Risers• Breakfast pastries - assorted muffins and Danishes• Scrambled eggs - American cheddar cheese• Breakfast meats - applewood smoked bacon, pork sausage links• Breakfast potatoes - caramelized onions, red and green bell peppers• French toast - whipped cream, maple syrup Late Risers• Kale quinoa salad - quinoa, roasted red pepper, spinach, lemon oregano vinaigrette• Green goddess pasta salad - sweet peas, white beans, scallions• Caesar salad - romaine lettuce, aged Reggiano parmesan cheese, herb croutons, traditional Caesar dressing• Oven-roasted flounder - spicy tomato and white bean ragu• Kid's station - chicken tenders and French fries• Hand-carved strip loin - signature spice rub, horseradish crème, au jus (broth)• Hand-carved oven-roasted turkey - cranberry sauce• Pasta al forno - alfredo sauce, panko parmesan crust• Scottish smoked salmon display - cream cheese, shaved red onions, Roma tomatoes, capers Dessert• Signature dessert station - cakes, brownies, seasonal fruit Sample Dinner Menu:Starter (choice of one)• Watermelon and baby arugula salad - feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinaigrette• Signature seafood chowder - clams, flounder, potatoes, cream Main Course (choice of one)• Root vegetable fricassee - butternut squash, cauliflower, zucchini, grape tomatoes, gremolata, cauliflower coconut cream sauce• Broiled salmon filet with roasted tomato vinaigrette - lemon orzo, farm-fresh seasonal vegetables• Oven-roasted chicken breast with rosemary and thyme - roasted new red potato salad with scallions, haricot verts, creamy mushroom sauce• Braised beef short ribs with Fresno pepper demi-glace - garlic mashed potatoes, baby carrots, broccoli Dessert• Signature chocolate cake - creme Anglaise, raspberry coulis, candied pecans• Mixed fruit with strawberries - Madagascar vanilla and orange cream• New York style cheesecake - lemon mascarpone cream, blueberry compote

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San Francisco Bay: Adventure Boat Tour

8. San Francisco Bay: Adventure Boat Tour

Travel along the San Francisco Bay in a small group on a boat tour. Travel faster and go farther out into the bay than most other boat tours. You will be as close as possible to the sights and wildlife, in a personal setting.  Depart from the world famous Pier 39. You will be outfitted with weather appropriate gear to keep you warm and dry from the occasional splash. Take in the historic waterfront from a new angle. Make a quick visit to the world famous Pier 39 sea lions, where you can see them eye to eye. There is no need for binoculars on this trip because you will see everything up close. Listen to the narration from your expert captain and learn something new about this historic area. See the waterfront in a way that is unlike any other experience on the bay. Take photos, make memories, and enjoy one of the finest ways to see it all up close. This small group boat tour is limited to 12 guests which provides an intimate family-friendly experience, perfect for adults, seniors, youth, and children ages 5 and older. You will get an opportunity to get up close to the world famous Alcatraz prison, once-home to some of the most notable criminal masterminds. Learn about some incredible points of interest, such as Coit Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Palace of Fine Arts, the Presidio, the Ferry Building, Treasure Island, and other historic landmarks.

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San Francisco: Muir Woods, Sausalito and SF Bay Cruise

9. San Francisco: Muir Woods, Sausalito and SF Bay Cruise

Embark on an exciting half-day trip to the beautiful Muir Woods National Monument, and the charming town of Sausalito. Hear informative commentary as you go, and complete your trip with a cruise on the Bay. Hop aboard your air-conditioned vehicle equipped with wi-fi and restroom. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge and motor through the “Rainbow Tunnels” on Hwy. 101, Marin’s unique topography comes into view. Tidal flats along the bay segue into gentle undulating hills as they rise to meet Mt. Tamalpais, Marin’s 2,600-foot landmark. As your tour ascends Mt. Tam, breathtaking views abound at every turn. Descending into the valley toward Muir Woods, you will see a landscape that hasn’t changed since its original inhabitants, the Coast Miwok Indians lived here centuries ago. Spend 90 minutes in Muir Woods, the most time offered on any sightseeing tour program. There will be ample time to stroll the Nature Trail along picturesque Redwood Creek, and through Cathedral and Bohemian Groves, filled with 500 to 800-year-old redwoods. Be sure to stop at the Visitors Center and Gift Shop. The next stop on your tour is beautiful Sausalito, a Mediterranean-like community with elegant hillside homes facing the bay and a unique colony of floating homes moored along the waterfront. You will have time to stroll Downtown Sausalito, a National Historic Landmark District offering many fine shops, galleries, and restaurants. Your return to San Francisco by motorcoach will be via the Golden Gate Bridge and through San Francisco’s Marina District. The final portion of your tour is a 1-hour cruise of the San Francisco Bay where you will sail by the famous Alcatraz Island and under the Golden Gate Bridge.

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San Francisco: Exclusive Bike, Beer, and Boat Tour

10. San Francisco: Exclusive Bike, Beer, and Boat Tour

Experience the best of the San Francisco bay with this combination tour package. This half-day adventure begins with a guided bicycle tour through San Francisco, beginning at the picturesque Aquatic Park in Fisherman’s Wharf. Take a peek at the famous sea lions before heading down the National Park bike path through Fort Mason, the Marina, and the Presidio. From there, you’ll cycle across the iconic Golden Gate bridge and into Sausalito, a charming bayside town known for its quirky architecture and stunning waterfront views. After all the biking, you'll sate your appetite with the included $20 restaurant voucher, good for any food or beverages at a local hotspot known for their spit-roasted chickens and award-winning burgers. Wet your whistle with a house-made soda or your choice of local beers and wines. The guided portion of the tour ends here, but your all-day bike rental allows you to keep exploring at your leisure. Once you’re done criss-crossing through Sausalito, hop back on a scenic ferry ride to San Francisco, taking in the views of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the San Francisco skyline. With recommendations from your guide, continue your venture through San Francisco, and return your bike when you’re ready.

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Other Sightseeing Options in San Francisco

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What people are saying about San Francisco

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 2,705 reviews

We were able to see the Golden Gate Bridge units full glory and up close. There was no need to stand in long lines just to get the glimpse of the bridge.

Relatively easy to get onto abs great on-ship food prices. Overall great experience for the price and an easy thing to add to your to-do list.

Our tour guide John was chatty, informative and a fantastic tour guide. We loved spending time with him Yesterday. From Sally & Sam

Nice experience to see the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island from up close.

Great cruise, perfect length, great info, stunning views in good weather.