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San Francisco Cruise Port Tips

Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco; credit: Bettina Nørgaard, Pixabay Creative Commons license
Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco; credit: Bettina Nørgaard, Pixabay Creative Commons license
The Port of San Francisco keeps busy every year with more than 80 cruise ship calls and 300,000 passengers.

The ships and passengers use the James R. Herman terminal at Pier 27 and another one at Pier 35. Ships travel to Alaska, Hawaii and the Mexican Riviera as well as California coastal cruises.

About a dozen cruise lines serve the port including Celebrity, Crystal, Cunard, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, P&O, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean and Silversea, according to the Port of San Francisco.

Cruise passengers arriving by air fly into San Francisco International Airport and transfer about 14 miles to the cruise terminal at the Port of San Francisco. Parking is $20 per day.

Hotel Tips


Cruise passengers embarking from San Francisco have plenty of hotel options. They are clustered in two locations that may matter to them.

One is around Fisherman’s Wharf, which is a good choice for anyone who plans to spend a little time exploring the area before or after the cruise. The other is just southwest of the piers and by the Nob Hill and Tenderloin districts. The Fisherman’s Wharf hotels are close to Pier 35. A handful of hotels are on or by Columbus Avenue near Pier 27.

Prices near the piers have a much higher range than some other California embarkation ports. Some of them are as low as $60 a night; others more than $700 a night. The hotels clustered around Fisherman’s Wharf are mostly in the range of $150 to $200 a night. They include Argonaut, Courtyard, Holiday Inn, Hotel Zephyr, Hotel Zoe, Hyatt, Marriott and Travelodge.

Attractions and Shore Excursions


San Francisco has quite a few famous attractions within walking distance or a quick taxi ride from the cruise terminals at Piers 27 and 35.

Exploratorium at Pier 15 is an interactive science museum. It is about a 10 minute walk south from Pier 27. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursdays and closed on Mondays. Tickets are $29.95 for adults, $24.95 for teens and senior citizens, $19.95 for children ages 4 to 12 and free for children 3 and younger.

The world famous Fisherman’s Wharf is about a 15 minute walk west from Pier 27. It is much more than just the original fish market. It is an extensive waterfront community and entertainment center with shopping, dining, events, hotels and tourist attractions.

Musee Mecanique at Pier 45 and Fisherman’s Wharf says it is one of the world's largest privately owned collections of coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade artifacts. Visitors can play more than 300 machines in their original working condition.


Madame Tussauds at Fisherman’s Wharf, 145 Jefferson St., is the company’s 17th celebrity wax museum. Tickets start at $23 per person if purchased online.

Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39 has “20,000 local sea creature” in three main exhibits. General admission tickets are $28.25 for teens and adults, $23.25 for senior citizens, $18.25 for children ages 4 to 12 and free for children 3 and younger.

Anyone with more time can walk or take a taxi to San Francisco’s famous Chinatown. It is about 1.5 miles south of the cruise terminals.

Cruise Weather


San Francisco’s annual weather is cool in the winter and mildly warm in the summer. It also has distinct rainy and dry seasons.

Average daytime temperatures range from the upper 50s Fahrenheit in the winter to about 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, according to historical data from the U.S. National Weather Service.

The rainy season goes from November through March with an average of about three to four inches of rain each month. The dry season from April to October averages only about one inch of rain per month or less.

This dry season is an ideal time to take a cruise out of San Francisco and spend time in the city before or after.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

San Francisco Cruise Port Map

 > Category: California   

February 17, 2020
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