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As The Horn Blows – News of Crew in San Diego

Ahoy, San Diego Crew,

Happy March!! It’s an exciting time to be on the water and a time where we need to remain more vigilant than ever in our commitment to operating safely.

Overall, we expect to welcome roughly 40,000 guests aboard our yachts on approximately 340 cruises. As we all know, a  lot  of  these  guests  will be  stepping  aboard   our yachts   for   the  first time. It’s important  that we  continue  to offer words of safety (watch your step!) and point on the various unique nuances of our yachts so that our guests have a safe experience. Also, please make sure to help  each  other  in  this  effort and leverage our Q2 value Respect by “Lending a hand without being asked!”. I look forward to seeing you all over the coming days.

SAVE THE DATE: March 28th for The Annual Crew Party!

As always, if you ever need me for anything, you  can  reach  me  at either (949) 650-2412, ext.3307 or via e-mail at

VIDEO OF THE MONTH! Whale watching in (I mean in) San Diego Bay
Thanks Richard Kelly for providing this video for us.

Reader’s Choice Travel Awards THE Best Sightseeing in San Diego for 2019! 

Prestigious local entertainment monthly, San Diego Magazine annually polls online readers to find out the top places to stay and play for their annual “Readers Choice Travel Awards.” The winner for Best Sightseeing Company in San Diego? Hornblower Cruises & Events is the 2019 winner! Now the locals know, if a vacation or stay-cation is in your future this spring break or summer, look no further! See the article in April edition of San Diego Magazine!

By Rebecca Milkey


Hornblower Captain Awarded at PVA in New Orleans for Editorial

Congratulations Captain Earnesto Coleman for your recognition at Passenger Vessel Association (PVA) in New Orleans with the David Clark Excellence in Editorial Award, for his Aug. 2018 article: “OSHA and the Passenger Vessel Industry”, written for FOGHORN Magazine 2018.

by Rebecca Milkey on February 19


Rainy Day Deals During El Nino in San Diego

For the Sunshine in You!


For all the rainy days we are experiencing this winter, Hornblower Cruises San Diego is offering Two For One Admission with their Rainy Day Deals program. Valid on rainy days only, visit This is a serious offer for San Diego, because it rarely rains in Southern California AND it is going to rain this week! It’s been a particularly rainy year during California’s wet season Nov. 1 to April 30th with the El Nino effect which is cycling through our region.

  •         Two For One any daytime one or two hour Harbor Tour and Sea Lion Adventure
  •         Two For One, any daytime Whale Watching Cruise
  •         Two For One, any night time San Diego Dinner Cruise

Sightseeing in the rain is still fantastic aboard a comfortable yacht on San Diego Bay. The yachts have indoor and outdoor seating with large bay windows and climate control. There’s a snack bar or adult beverage bar on all cruises with hot and cold beverages. There’s even a rain day map to help you navigate in the drizzle. The Captain and crew will safely ply the harbor pointing out the greatest landmarks on your cruise.

Report from Whale Watching on a rainy day: “Choppy trip with winds gusty, but we saw a cow/calf pair and 8 solitary gray whales. Many more blows in the distance, perhaps even one breach. Also a spy hop near our boat this morning.”  2/4/19 Gaynell Schenck, TheNat Whaler.

TERMS: Rainy Day Deals are available on select days, depending upon weather forecasts. Deals are limited to up to six adults. This offer applies to new “day of” bookings only. Discounts cannot be combined with other offers or discounts and are good only for the indicated rainy day. Valid on rainy days only, Visit the site.  

Written by Rebecca Milkey, Rainbow Photo by Chris Mannerino of Point Loma, CA

San Diego Chapter Recognized at site Global in Thailand

Mandy Brown, Charter sales manager in San Diego, completed a successful year as President of the San Diego Chapter of SITE (Society of Incentive Travel Excellence). Brown proudly received recognition with the chapter attendees in Bangkok, Thailand at site 2019 Global Conference, with an award for  excellence in education. Pictured are Southern CA chapter members including Kathryn Wells, Mandy Brown and DMC client Madalyn Marusa, from PRA.

Written by Rebecca Milkey on February 2019


Whale Watching Captain Visits the USNS Mercy

Hornblower Cruise’s very own Captain Jose Gurganus had the honor of visiting the USNS Mercy,The US Naval Hospital Ship Mercy is the largest floating medical facility in the world and it is stationed in south bay, San Diego. He was invited by Commanding Navy Officer, Captain John Rotruck after he had enjoyed the narration about The Mercy during a Hornblower Harbor Tour Cruise in San Diego with his family. Jose shared an amazing story with me about his conversation with Capt. Rotruck who is also an MD. The only way for an MD to be a ship officer is to lead a naval ship and there are only two in the United States. So Capt. /Dr. Rotruck is a rare  individual.

Jose said, Capt. Rotruck, invited me on a tour after hearing my narration on a tour he was riding with his family. Rotruck’s father, Chief Warrant Officer retired,Rotruck was speaking to me about Navy stuff and mentioned his son was the Commanding Officer of the USNS MERCY. During a break in the narration I took some time to speak to the Rotruck family and answer a few questions. Capt. Rotruck commented on my narration at that time; calling me Hornblower’s”Ambassador to the Navy.” He then invited me come on the USNS MERCY to see first hand what I was narrating about. First Officer Alex Arizpe, went on the  tour with me. I am going on another tour tomorrow. This time First Officer’s Jeanne Fleming, and Katelin Lafaye will be joining me!

By Patti Schick


San Diego 2018 Sales Superstars Recognized at Sales & Marketing Conference Awards Dinner

Seven significant San Diego sales superstars were recognized at the 2019 Sales and Marketing conference in Santa Barbara in January as Top Sellers  Nationwide for Hornblower Cruises & Events. I was lucky enough to grab their images with President Terry MacRae at the first annual Awards banquet. 


Gretchen Grossman, Associate Director of Sales, Top Sail PLUS

Monica Heckenberg, Sales Manager, Top Sail PLUS

Jacqueline Tonnaer, Senior Sales Manager/First Officer, Top Sail PLUS

Oz Gonzalez, Corporate Business Development Manager, Top Sail PLUS

Mandy Brown, Sales Manager, Top Sail

Kelly Rossi, Sales Coordinator, Top Sail

Joy Liu, National Sales Manager, Top Sail

Kristie Bryant, Wedding Sales Manager, Top Sail

Tiffany Paolini, San Diego Group Sales Manager, Top Sail

Congratulations to the entire Sales & Marketing Team for successfully meeting their 2018 Revenue goal!

by Rebecca Milkey on February 2019

Photos by Rebecca Milkey


San Diego Gaining Visibility as Top Year-Round Whale Watching Destination in the World!

February and March turns out to be the pinnacle month for sighting gray whales just off the San Diego coast aboard Hornblower’s Premium whale watching cruises on Adventure Hornblower. Hundreds of visitors from around the world take the popular 3.5 hour cruise through north bay, past Point Loma and out to the open ocean where they will begin seeing whales almost right away.

Winter is the season to see Grays as they migrate and we are lucky enough to see humpbacks and even killer whales from time to time. Whales aren’t the only stars of this adventure cruise, we can see up to five kinds of dolphins that put on a great show for customers as they play in the bow waves and barrel rolls alongside the ship. In March and April most of the Gray Whales are traveling north to the productive feeding grounds in the Bering and Chukchi Seas in the Arctic. The first wave of the northward migration was mainly composed of juveniles, adult males, and females without calves. Recently, we have also been spotting mother-calf pairs traveling north. All of the mothers and calves will leave the calving lagoons in Mexico by the end of April. The calves will be weaned on the feeding grounds this summer. At the feeding grounds the gray whales will dine on amphipods (shrimp-like crustaceans) that are extremely abundant in the the muddy seafloors of arctic waters. A gray whale gorges on up to a ton of amphipods per day to bulk up its blubber layer in preparation for the migration south in the fall. For the latest reports, Patti Schick of the marketing department, updates the whale report weekly! Click here:  Whale report! 

Written by Patti Schick and Rebecca Milkey

Until next time! Fair winds and following seas. If you have ideas and pictures or news about the crew for this newsletter, please send to Kevin Lorton, or Rebecca Milkey, (or call 619-341-9212). Be safe, be crew!