Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond
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San Diego Cruise Port: Tips, Attractions and Weather

San Diego Zoo lion
San Diego Zoo lion

The San Diego cruise port is a starting point for quite a few destinations throughout the Pacific Ocean. The most prominent destination is the Mexican Riviera.

Other destinations include the Panama Canal, South Pacific, Pacific coast, Hawaii and the South Pacific.

The Port of San Diego has two cruise ship terminals on San Diego Bay’s Embarcadero. It is two miles of downtown waterfront with dining, shopping, lodging, museums, and attractions.

Most ships dock at the B-Street Pier & Cruise Ship Terminal, 1140 N. Harbor Drive. It is only three miles from the San Diego International Airport.

Cruise lines that depart from the Port of San Diego include Carnival, Celebrity, Crystal, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian and Princess.

Hotel Tips

San Diego Cruise Port Map

San Diego has more than 20 hotels within about one mile of the cruise ship terminal. A handful are within walking distance including Wyndham, Marriott, SpringHill Suites, Best Western, InterContinental, The Westin and The Guild. Most prices range between $150 to $200 a night.

Anyone who has an extra day or two and wants to explore all of the many museums, gardens, the zoo and other attractions at Balboa Park should consider staying near Ash St. and Fourth St. That’s what we did. Hotels there include Best Western, Holiday Inn Express, Days Inn and TownePlace Suites. Some of those hotels offer free shuttles to nearby attractions such as the zoo and Balboa Park. Again, most of their prices range between about $150 and $200 a night.

Attractions and Shore Excursions

But San Diego is much more than a starting point for cruises elsewhere. It is a major travel destination in its own right because of major attractions and points of interest, some of which are internationally famous.

More than two dozen hotels fill the downtown San Diego area near the cruise port terminal. Anyone who arrives a day or two early like we did will find plenty of places to stay within walking distance or a quick ride to nearby attractions. An ideal location is somewhere between the cruise terminal and Balboa Park.

The most famous attraction is the San Diego Zoo, which is often called one of the best zoos in the world. The zoo in Balboa Park is just four miles northeast of the cruise port. General admission tickets are $56 for teens and adults and $46 for children 3 to 11. Besides the main zoo, tickets include the guided bus tour, Kangaroo Express Bus, Skyfari Aerial Tram, and all regularly scheduled shows. The 4-D theater show costs extra.

The 1,200-acre Balboa Park itself has plenty to offer besides the zoo. Its attractions include 17 museums and other cultural attractions such as the San Diego History Center, Natural History Museum, Museum of Art, Fleet Science Center and Japanese Friendship Garden. It has more than a dozen themed gardens and many attractions for children.

Legoland California, 1 Legoland Drive, Carlsbad, CA,  is about one hour or 36 miles north of the cruise port off the I-5 freeway. It is an amusement park that also has an aquarium and water park.

U.S.S. Midway, 910 N. Harbor Drive, on the San Diego waterfront was the largest aircraft carrier in the world. Its lengthy service lasted from the end of World War II to Operation Desert Storm. Tickets online are $22 for adults with discounts for seniors, children and retired military.

Transportation / Getting Around

San Diego has a major public transportation agency that makes it easy to get around the city via bus or trolley. One-way fares for buses and trolleys are $2.50. Discounts are available for senior citizens and children.

The city also has three vintage trolleys that makes stops around the downtown area in one large loop every Friday evening through Sunday afternoon.

Cruise Weather

San Diego monthly temperatures
© 2021 Scott S. Bateman

San Diego has a dry climate throughout most of the year. Daytime temperatures range from the mid 60s Fahrenheit in the winter to the mid 70s in the summer, according to 30 years of data from the U.S. National Weather Service.

Rainfall and the rare possibility of snow reach only about two inches per month in the winter and less than one inch in the summer. It rains on average only about seven days per month in the winter and only one day in the summer.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
September 24, 2021

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