Where To Go: San Francisco Bay

Cruise Lets You Sail into the Sunset

by Kathie Farnell

From April to October, romantics can explore the San Francisco Bay in the glow of evening aboard the Red and White Fleet’s California Sunset Cruise. The two-hour cruise, which leaves San Francisco from Pier 43 1⁄2 in the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf, takes passengers on a scenic loop past the stunning city skyline.

The day was still sunny and bright as Jack and I boarded the Royal Prince, one of the fleet’s three ships making regular bay cruises. Passengers sit comfortably at tables on the lower or upper deck; the latter offers a chance to step outside on deck for better photo ops. As we settled in, we got to know our fellow passengers, some of whom had come from as far as China. Then, with a brisk spring breeze blowing, we sailed out of the harbor past Pier 39, home of shops, restaurants—and, in recent years, sea lions. We passed a couple of huge ocean liners, then got a close-up view of Alcatraz Island, former home of Al Capone and the Birdman, as well as Angel Island, once known as the “Ellis Island of the West.” Today, Alcatraz is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation area, and Angel Island is a state park. Cruises to both islands are popular; Angel Island appeals to the outdoor set with hiking trails and the opportunity to rent a bike for further exploration.

Once we left Angel Island behind, it was time to think about dinner. The Sunset Cruise includes a buffet of appetizers (and these were hearty—everything from cheese and fruit to barbecue sandwiches), a free beverage, and soothing guitar music played on the upper deck. We enjoyed all three as the ship passed the steep shores of Richardson Bay and the scenic towns of Tiburon, Sausalito and Belvedere. As the sun settled into the Pacific, I headed for the upper deck and a phenomenal view of the Golden Gate Bridge—the ship sailed right under the world’s most beautiful span.

From November through March, visitors can experience the same sights through the California Twilight Cruise, a little chillier but still spectacular. There are also daylight cruises available—and the bay is just as romantic in the sunshine.

For more information, check the Red and White Fleet’s website at

Photos courtesy of Red and White Fleet.

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