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San Diego Whale Watching Season Starts December 13th

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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Indications are this year’s Whale Watching is going to be fantastic!

The New York Times is reporting today that whale sightings along the coast off of Monterey, California are fantastic.  This is a good sign for whale watching in San Diego.  The whales are beginning the winter migration south to Mexico, passing right by San Diego on their way.

But it was the whales that astounded even longtime residents — more than 200 humpbacks lunging, breaching, blowing and tail flapping — and, on a recent weekend, a pod of 19 rowdy orcas that briefly crashed the party, picking off sea lions along the way.

Such a large turnout to the north indicates that residents and visitors in San Diego are going to be treated to a fantastic season of marine life sightings.  Scientists believe that whale are attracted to a large anchovie population, an important food source for the traveling animals.

What has drawn the animals is a late bloom of anchovies so enormous that continuous, dense blankets of the diminutive fish are visible on depth sounders. The sea lions, sea birds and humpbacks (which eat an average of two tons of fish a day) appear to have hardly made a dent in the population. Last month, so many anchovies crowded into Santa Cruz harbor that the oxygen ran out, leading to a major die-off.

To read more, visit the New York Times.

To book your whale watching adventure,

Hornblower San Diego Captain Richard Goben Honored with Maritime Person of the Year

Captain Rich Goben

Captain Rich Goben honored as Maritime Person of the Year by the International Propeller Club

The International Propeller Club honors Captain Goben in recognition for his service to the maritime industry

San Diego, California (November 18, 2013) –  Hornblower San Diego Captain Richard Goben received an international maritime award at the 87th Annual Convention and Maritime Industry Conference in Arlington, Virginia in October.

International Propeller Club of the United States honored Captain Goben as the 2013 Maritime Person of the Year. The Propeller Club was formed in 1927 in order to support shipping and the maritime industry. Goben was given this honor

in recognition of service as an ambassador on behalf of the maritime industry and in gratitude for tireless advocacy for maritime safety and security.

Captain Goben is a licensed ship Master and has worked in the San Diego cruise industry as the Port Captain for Hornblower Cruises and Events for over 25 years, as well as serves on the board of the San Diego Port of the Propeller Club. Goben also volunteers as Captain of the oldest iron hulled sailing ship in the world, the “Star of India,” built in 1863. Most recently the Star of India celebrated her 150th Birthday with three historic days of sailing with Captain Richard at the helm.

Goben’s past awards include the “Roger Murphy National Safety Award” from the Passenger Vessel Association, the “Outstanding Leadership Award” from the Naval Order of the United States, and the “Creative Innovation in Sailing Programming” award from US Sailing. Captain Richard is also a past recipient of Hotel Sales & Marketing Association International Gold Key Award.


Hornblower San Diego Whale Watching Captains Anticipate Encore

The 2012-2013 Season had some of the best whale watching ever – Hornblower Captains prepare for a repeat in 2013-2014

San Diego, California (November 15, 2013) – The captains at Hornblower Cruises in San Diego are gearing up for this year’s whale watching season, set to begin on December 14th and is scheduled to run through late March.  After a spectacular whale watching season last year, Hornblower captains are expecting an outstanding turnout of marine life again this year – one that should not be missed.  Over the course of last year’s whale watching season, spectators on Hornblower’s boats saw almost 1000 whales and over 120,000 dolphins.

Visitors and locals alike can purchase their tickets now for this year’s trips.  The family-friendly excursions run twice a day for 3-1/2 hours, and include a tour of the North Bay of San Diego Harbor with many sights including the sea lions, the submarine base, the Star of India, the Point Loma Lighthouse, and the Cabrillo National Monument, which is celebrating 100 years.  Spectators will be treated to the sights of migrating marine life including gray, finback, humpback and blue whales, orcas, dolphins, sea lions and many species of seabirds.  Hornblower’s experienced captains will take visitors directly to the best spots for viewing the migrating animals off of San Diego’s coastline.

“Whale Watching last year was quite an adventure. Not only were we very successful in locating the Gray Whales, but we’ve also been tracking locations of other types, like Blue Whales, Fin Whales, Humpback Whales, and several others,” says Hornblower Captain Rich Goben.  “Add to this the encounters with four different types of dolphins, and we have the makings of another great year!”

The captains treat guests to a live narration that includes scientific stories and fun facts about the marine life that they encounter. Aware of their impact on the whales, Hornblower captains are respectful of the marine life and their natural habitat.  They maintain a minimum distance from the animals to insure that all of the cruises are whale-friendly.

Additionally, onboard every vessel, expert naturalists from the San Diego Natural History Museum help point out whale sightings to the guests and are happy to answer any questions spectators may have about they are viewing.  The San Diego Natural History Museum and Hornblower Cruises & Events have been partners on these cruises since 2005.  All whale sightings are tracked in Hornblower’s Captain’s Log at

Spectators can enjoy their whale watching experience in comfort on large, fast yachts, which are Coast Guard certified and maintain the highest standards of seaworthiness to ensure customer safety.  The vessels can seat hundreds and feature a sundeck nearly 30 feet above the water, which provides an opportunity to view whales from up to a mile away.  These sightseeing tours are eco-friendly with latest technology tier-3 clean diesel engines, onboard recycling programs and sustainable products used vessel-wide.


Reservations are recommended and can be booked via Hornblower’s website at, by calling 619-686-8715, or by visiting the Hornblower ticket booth at 970 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101.

Hornblower’s whale watching cruises depart daily at 9:30 AM and 1:30 PM. For weekday excursions, ticket prices are $38 for adults and $19 for children ages 5 to 12. For weekend excursions ticket prices are $43 for adults and $21.50 for children ages 5 to 12.  Children aged four and under are free.

For those intrepid guests who may want to go whale watching more than once a year, Hornblower offers a Yacht Club card, which costs $76 and includes unlimited whale watching trips throughout the season for its holder.  During the off-season, the Yacht Club card can be used alternatively for unlimited Harbor Cruise & Sea Lion Adventures.

Hornblower has partnered with other local attractions to provide sightseeing combo packages that include the Whale Watching Cruise, plus admission to one of the following: San Diego Natural History Museum, the Maritime Museum or the USS Midway.  Combo tickets start at $32 for adults and $16 for children.

Save the Date

This year’s Big Bay Whale Festival is set for Saturday, January 25, 2014 at the Port Pavilion on the Broadway Pier. Hornblower Cruises & Events is a proud sponsor of the family-friendly event, which features music, exhibits, art and more.  The Big Bay Whale Festival is part of Big Bay Whale, days a full month of entertainment and fun on cruises, tours and tickets for many of San Diego’s most popular activities.

For more information about Hornblower San Diego Whale Watching Adventures, please visit