If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to...ditch the flowers and take a bay cruise instead. Yup, sometimes the touristy stuff is good. On a recent trip to the Golden State, I found myself on board Red and White Fleet’s hour-long Golden Gate Bay Cruise. And I loved every minute of it. I also realised that I wasn’t immune to goosebumps when greeted with a namaste on American soil (or, technically, just off it, since I was boarding).
Founded in 1892, the family-owned Red and White Fleet is one of the earliest sightseeing cruises in the Bay area and, I was told, the only multilingual one. The headphone audio tour features as many as 16 languages including, you guessed it, Hindi. The riveting narration, which includes interviews with Chinese immigrants who came to San Francisco in large numbers and today form an essential part of the city’s fabric, is the perfect foil to the sights as you glide past them: the San Francisco skyline; the Golden Gate Bridge wrapped eerily in a fog; Marshall’s Beach just beyond the Bridge, on which you might spot nude sunbathers on a clear day; and the shudder-inducing Alcatraz Island, still claimed by Native Americans as their own land. With 8 to 12 departures daily, there’s no #FOMO.
The Bay Cruise costs $33 for adults (18+) and $23 for youth (5—17). The Bridge 2 Bridge Cruise is 30 minutes longer and goes under both the Golden Gate and Bay bridges. There’s a Sunset Cruise and a bunch of land tours on offer as well. See redandwhite.com.