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San Diego Whale Watching Season Off to a Great Start

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Hornblower to Launch New Blue Whale Watching Cruises this Summer!

Blue Whale Watching Adventures to begin on July 5, 2014
Catalina Londono_blue whale

For the first time ever, Hornblower Cruises & Events will embark on Blue Whale Watching Adventure Cruises this summer.  In the last five years, the blue whale migration has grown in San Diego, with over a thousand whales being spotted in a single previous season. Passengers can now experience of the wonder of watching the largest mammal on earth as it migrates through the waters off the San Diego coast.

Hornblower Cruises & Events is offering a 4-hour Blue Whale Watching Adventure, with an opportunity to spot whales, sea lions, and dolphins, as well as all the sights of San Diego Bay.  Included in the adventure is live narration on marine life by Hornblower’s experienced captains and volunteer naturalists from the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNat).  Snack bars on board feature hot food, a full bar and souvenirs.

Hornblower Cruises’ experienced captains and crew know the best places to find whales and the tours head directly to the prime viewing areas off of San Diego’s coast.  Blue whales migrate along the California coast from July through early September.  They are often accompanied by the second largest whale, the finback.  The size of the two whales makes for some great whale watching experiences.  Also spotted is the California favorite, the humpback whale.  Passengers will see massive whale tails, along with the whales feeding on huge quantities of krill.

Cruise Details & How to Buy Tickets: For reservations call 619-686-8715 or visit the website,

Hornblower Cruises & Events’ Blue Whale Watching Adventure will sail every Saturday and Sunday from July 5 to August 31.  Passengers will board at 8:45am and sail from 9:00am to 1:00pm. Reservations are now open and tickets cost $75 for adults, $40 for children ages 4 to 12 and $73 for seniors.  Children under four are free.  Groups of 20 or more can arrange outings at a discount.  To follow whale watching season and to purchase tickets, visit the San Diego Whale Report at


Hornblower Cruises & Events has been the leading charter yacht and public dining cruise company for over 32 years.  The company has operates 32 vessels in San Francisco, Berkeley, Sacramento, Long Beach, Newport Beach, Marina Del Rey, San Diego and New York City.  In addition, Hornblower San Diego offers seasonal Whale and Dolphin Watching Adventures and year round Harbor Cruises.  For more information visit,


The Inspiration Behind new local Book about Whale Watching in San Diego


Breaching Gray Whale Photo taken by Michael Roeder on 2/19/14 from Hornblower Cruises Whale Watching.

Michael Roeder and Scotty Schmidt have been aboard Hornblower’s Whale Watching Cruises more often than some of the actual Hornblower Captains! Why? Michael and Scotty just finished a book called “1000 Whales in a Year”. The book is for sale on Hornblower’s Whale Watching Cruises and on almost any given day you can get an autograph from the authors Mike and Scotty and even a photo with the pair of dedicated whale enthusiasts. The book’s goal was to to find one thousand whales in one year on the Pacific Ocean near San Diego. However there is so much more that inspired the book: a band of kindred spirits, people with a common bond(whales in the wild) and each in need of a little special healing.

Scotty says: I’m a US Army combat veteran who experienced many difficulties adjusting back to civilian life. I found myself searching for something for a long time, but I didn’t know what. Now I still find myself searching for something……whales, but they are something I can find! Scotty Schmidt.

Mike says: I’d recently retired and being a bit reclusive anyway, was looking for something social not too threatening. Kim and Dennis invite us on a whale watching cruise, my wife and I bought a season pass on Hornblower, we met Scotty and we joined the gang.* “…our motivation for spending all this time on the water in one year. After some calculations, we found we had spent an average of one hour per whale. Yes its obsessive behavior, we know. We are obsessive people. Whale watching is addictive and if you have an additive personality type you may be drawn in too. We never intended to spend 1000 hours watching, see 1000 whales or write this 100 page book- these evolved as our relationships with each other and the whales, grew.” Michael Roeder

Kim says: We are enthusiastic boaters, with extensive sailing experience as well as having worked with the US Navy and US Coast Guard Auxiliary.  We’ve spent lots of time near or on the water.  When we first started whale watching in February 2013, we saw it as just another opportunity to be on the water.  We were also looking for some peace and quiet after the loss of a service member in our family.   Seeing these majestic whales so close to our shore had an unbelievable positive impact to our life.  We met Scotty on the Hornblower and found a kindred soul.  The whales pulled us up to the rail, brought us out of ourselves and together as friends on a common quest.   Kim and Dennis Usrey.

The book also has an electronic version on the Apple iBook store in case you’d like to get your hands on this gem. Visit their website.


* Yes you too can “join the gang”. Purchase a season whale watching pass on Hornblower Cruises, for unlimited whale watching cruises during the Gray Whale Watching season from Dec. to April. We look forward to seeing you onboard too!

Hornblower Captain Recognized for Customer Service on San Diego Whale Watching Cruise

Captain TomLove and kindness is indeed in the air at Hornblower! This past Valentine’s weekend Captain Gaetano Balistreri was recognized for his excellent guest relations on board the whale watching cruise on Adventure Hornblower. While boarding the AM Whale Watch trip one of the guests informed Gaetano that her mother who was wheelchair bound was celebrating her 100th Birthday that day on Feb. 17th.  Captain Gaetano escorted them to an accessible area and made sure they were comfortable then went back to boarding. A few minutes later a group of 8- ten- year- old girl scouts boarded the boat and he noticed they were all singing together.  After completing the boarding and getting underway Captain Gaetano called the Girl Scouts up to the pilot house and asked them if they would like to sing to a 100-year-old celebrating on board that day? They were all excited and agreed. So they set them up with 2 microphones and let them sing Happy Birthday over the Public address system on board.  The Birthday Girl was in tears, she was so happy! Crew reported that these girl scouts could really sing! They sounded like a choir!I was there to witness the disembarking of passengers and the Birthday Girl still had tears in her eyes when she thanked Captain Gaetano as she was disembarking! This was truly Hornblower customer service at its kindest and what an Amazing Experience!

Nominated by Director of Operations, Captain Anthony Sardina.

San Diego Whale Watching Report for 2/6 -13/14



Morning Cruise

Afternoon Cruise



2 grays both juvenile

6 total whales: 4 south bound gray whales, all adult and lots of tail flukes. 2 north bound whales too

AM trip – We saw 2 gray whales both juvenile, guests got some great looks.PM trip we had 121 guests. We saw 4 southbound gray whales ,all adults lots of tail flukes.  We saw 2 northbound grays too! 6 total. Great shows!


3 gray whales: 2 adult and 1 juvenile. 2 white sided dolphins

1 juvenile gray

AM: 1 juvenile Gray, 2 adult Grays, good views, 2 PWS dolphin. PM: Only brief view of 1 juvenile Gray.


Fog was so heavy we had to return to dock.

All guests were issued whale checks to come back again.

Morning: fog, had to return to dock.Afternoon:  heavy fog, but found 1 small whale


3 gray whales, 30 Pacific white-sided dolphins

6 adult gray whales, 2 juvenile, 20 white sided dolphins

Great trip! We saw many dolphins and many gray whales on both trips.


5 gray whales, 30 pacific white sided dolphin

2 adult gray whales, 1 calf, 100 common dolphin


AM: Multiple tail flukes at the same time. Awesome show!


4 gray whales

8 gray whales

AM: All together we saw 4 gray whales. 1 adult and 1 juvenile gray whale were traveling together.          PM: We saw 5 juvenile gray whale, 1 adult and 1 cow/calf pair.                     It was a beautiful day on the water – sunny clear and calm. We spotted the whales quickly and just kept running into them. The passengers were all excited and asked lots of questions and everyone had a great time.


5 gray whales

12 gray whales

AM: Very quiet ride.  Saw 5 gray whales, 1 sub returning.

PM: 2-3 pods of 2-4 whales each.  Blows, flukes, and 1 unexpected 11′ high breach!  Spectacular!


5 gray whales

7 gray whales

AM: We were greeted by a gray whale just outside the harbor at the San Diego Buoy. We stayed with the whale for several rounds of blows and then headed north to find a group of 4 gray whales. We were treated to several flukes.

PM: Captain Nick did a great job of looking for whales. He was able to locate a pair that we stayed with for some time. All of the whales were headed south.

Whale Watching Review on Touts Typical Great Experience

great blow from Gray whaleI had to report this great review from Mel C, from Las Vegas, NV from 2/9/14

This review is for their Whale & Dolphin Watching Adventure, not for the awesome dinner cruise.  Thought that I get that out first since the Hornblower is known for their spectacular 3 hour dinner cruises that circle around Coronado. I’ve been to one of those dinners on a previous birthday and I agree with the rest, 5 Stars for the experience.

As for the Whale & Dolphin Watching Adventure, they guarantee whale sightings.  I’ve done this whale sighting tour before and if you don’t see a single whale, you receive what they call a “Whale Check”, which is their form of a rain check.  We just finished the tour this afternoon and Yes, I finally got to see some whales. It started off slow, but after about an hour, I got to see the tail end of a whale’s tail end.  That’s it?  It was for a good 30 minutes, then we found more and even with their babies.  By the end of our tour, we got to experience multiple whale sightings.

What to expect on your tour:
-Whales, of course
-Dolphins and a ton of them.  They’ll put on a show and race side by side with your yacht.
-Sea Lions
-Navy Ships
-Historic Landmarks
-Views of our beautiful city of San Diego
-Views of Mexico’s city of Tijuana
-3 hours on the water
-Wind and Cold:  Come bundled if you’re outside
-Great staff, including the Captain who narrates the tour.
-San Diego’s Natural History Museum Naturalists was also on our tour.  They were available to educate all of us about the whales, why they’re here, what breed they are, etc.  On the way back to port, they give little presentation as well.

I had a great time with my daughter, nephew, and god daughter.  I’m sure that they had a great time too. Keep in mind that this tour is not Sea World.  The whales do not come out and perform at scheduled times. The whales don’t do somersaults.  This is whale watching in their natural habitat, which means you may have to wait and keep looking just to spot one.  Pretty cool to see these beautiful mammals in their own environment. I highly recommend this tour while you’re in San Diego.

Thanks Mel C! We welcome your comments and reviews about the experiences you have aboard Hornblower Cruises and all the products we offer including Whale Watching cruises, Nightly dinner Cruises, Sunday Champagne Brunch, Daily Narrated harbor tours and Sights & Sips Cocktail Cruises! Http://

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