Hornblower Cruise (Yelp Rock the Boat Event) – San Diego, CA

I’ve been trying to re discover San Diego. Usually I prefer to do this alone but sometimes I need a little help. Yelp recently partnered up with Hornblower Cruises & Events and 20+ vendors to host an event for a ton of yelpers. This wasn’t an elite event so anyone with a valid yelp account could rsvp and wait, like everyone else, to see if they got in.

I wasn’t really feeling this event as it’s on a BOAT. Let’s break it down: I hate the water, I get sea sick, I CAN’T get off the boat when I’m done with the food, and there will probably be tons of people there I don’t know (or really want to know). Plus, the event is from 6-9p (with a one hour check in time from 6-7p – yikes). So the actual cruise portion of this event was two whole hours.

I figured if I got in, it would a sign from up above to enjoy a sunset cruise with people I don’t know. Woe is me.

The event took place on a Wednesday evening. It took me over 45 min to drive to the Harbor from North County. I had forgotten how bad the 163 freeway gets during rush hour traffic. The invite clearly states that the last check in is at 6:45p SHARP. And the boat will take off (is it take off?) promptly at 7p. I was still stuck in traffic at 6:15p. I was totally going to miss the boat. I FELT it.

Luckily I arrived just in time and found underground parking for $10 (not because it was easy to find but because I researched like a madwoman the day of for parking options).

There were no lines to check in so that was a nice change. Maybe showing up late IS a good thing at these events.



Oh crap. This is a LEGIT boat. The captain and two crew members stood at the entrance to greet people.


It was such a pretty day. I was actually taking the time to soak it all in.

I didn’t take a photo how the vendors were set up on this 3 tier ship (I think ship is a better word than Gilligan’s boat no). I mostly took pictures of the food so let’s start shall weย :



Chips and cevicheย 

The best item of the evening. I loved the crispy seasoned chips and the ceviche tasted incredibly fresh.


Hornblower Cruises (?)

Fried potato chips with blue cheese and bacon

I am not sure if this item was made by Hornblower. The cruise has it’s own kitchen/catering I believe so they provided a few different dishes to sample that evening.


Caramel pudding?




citrus vodka ceviche

They also served the ceviche over cucumber for a gluten free option.



braised country style pork with red mole sauce & sweet potato pureeย 



scallop ceviche

I was quite surprised by the quality and presentation of this dish provided by Hornblower. The plump raw scallop was delicious.




Look at all the variety of samples!




chicken tikka masala





ginger garlic soy sauce wings

I thought wings were a bit cold and dry. The fresh cilantro was a nice touch.




freshly made cotton candy

I want her outfit ๐Ÿ™‚

Ok. So this is where I took a break from sampling everything. I was quite content sitting alone at a table and bopping my head to the beat of live music on this happenin’ dance floor:


Just kidding. No one was dancing because, um, we’re not at the prom.

I was so happy to see PJ there. We both knew we’d be at this event. She almost missed getting on the boat too. PJ would be my foodie partner that night (thank goodness).

We decided to venture to the third floor to see what was going on.



Goodness gracious people.

Could I have ASKED for a prettier day. ย Look at our city. Isn’t it beautiful? This photo came out so nicely.

We decided to come back to the 3rd floor when the sun was setting. In the meantime, where the heck is the rest of the food.

Ahhh-haaa…yes…bottom floor we must a go.




smoked pork belly with manila clams, pickled onion & soy glaze

I’ve wanted to visit this restaurant for quite some time so it was great seeing them at this event. I wasn’t a fan of this dish though. All the flavors (belly, clams, pickled onion) got lost within each other.




braised pork bao bao

My eyes opened wide when I saw this bao (not sure why they call it a bao bao but that’s how it’s typed on the flyer) . Unfortunately, this was the worst item of the evening. The only thing you could taste was the YEAST in the under cooked bun (bao).






snacking station with dips

I like nutella so the girl showed me how to make a dessert snack with their pretzels. She opened up a small bag of their plain pretzels and then put a big ol’ dollop of nutella on the (in)side of the bag. You then take a pretzel and run it over the side of nutella.




West Coast Tavern

sesame crusted ahi , ginger aioli, soy glaze




mini shrimp & mini veggie tacos

We were happy to see Lucha Libre at this event. These tacos weren’t very good though. They did have a container full of that creamy cilantro sauce I loved so much on my last visit to their restaurant.





popcorn chicken bites

I didn’t sample this but PJ said it was pretty bad.

Ok, back to the 2nd floor because we just HAD to have dessert.





I think we got about 8 samples for the both of us to try. I’ve never had one of their cookies so I was excited to try these samples. One of the owners was there and he was so incredibly nice. I don’t remember which cookie was my favorite though (sorry, I was so full at this point).




red velvet and white chocolate (?)

PJ and I were too busy eating, drinking, talking that we TOTALLY forgot about the sunset on the top deck. I grabbed her arm and we bolted upstairs.

I finally bumped in Mayor Soo! He always gets into these events and everyone knows him. ย I also bumped into another friend whom I hadn’t seen in ages. But forget all that. I needed a moment or two to take in this:






I was truly, so much, just enjoying the moment. Sunsets are usually nice (especially at the beach) but it’s a totally different sensation when you’re watching one from the deck of a ship. I don’t know. Things just felt peaceful and right at that very moment.

I’ve been trying to find better ways to take pictures. It seems light plays a huge part in that (well of course right). Soo was teaching me a thing or two about that and the rest (of the pics) are just me playing around with the iphone camera features:



We were able to get the the ‘Xmas lighting’ hanging on the ship! Can you see it?


Soo said the camera wants to adjust the lighting (or something) so with the iphone, you must take the picture as quickly as possible (before the camera tries to adjust). But look at the difference in the last two pics taken within seconds of each other.


Using a bit of the lighting from the boat



Though it’s not a clear pic, I still love the above photo.


Docking around 9p


ย County of San Diego Tax Assessorย 

This is why the city is broke. She just *HAS* to have a beautiful building overlooking the water. Just kidding. It was still a pretty sight to look at while I walked back to my car.

I had a nice time at this event. I really enjoyed the whole cruise part actually. I researched a few of their local cruise options afterwards. They have a Sights & Sips Sunset Cruise that totally piqued my interest. I just purchased two tickets after I remembered seeing it on Groupon (plus, I received an additional 15% off because the site was promoting local deals or something). The stars must be aligned. Booyahh.

So maybe this summer will be filled with sunsets, ocean breezes, and fun times for this blogger ๐Ÿ™‚




14 thoughts on “Hornblower Cruise (Yelp Rock the Boat Event) – San Diego, CA

  1. Wow Faye! Impressive photos! You must have been so full after sampling everything! I only tried I few things I was likely to like and the deserts. ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s great you had fun and you are gonna go cruising again. I use to win tickets for sunset concert cruises much like the yelp event only smaller. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Soo,

      I wish I was hungrier that evening because I wanted to go back for 2nds/3rds (samples) ๐Ÿ™‚

      I totally forgot to write down the names of those Cravory cookies. I think I was just happy-confused from all the variety we could sample from that cookie company.

      Thanks for showing me a few camera tricks. I’ll hopefully use some of those tricks for the Sights & Sips cruise. I bet those sunset concert cruises were beautiful!

  2. Did you eat the potato chips with blue cheese and bacon or did you just take a photo? heehee I have a feeling I know the answer to that question.

    I like how the Cravory cut all of their samples up so they look uniform. Like little soldiers! Or something.

    Undercooked bao sounds so sad. ๐Ÿ™

    Sadie Rose has the BEST pretzel bread. I dream about it I love it so much.

    I have a feeling Nothing Bundt Cakes is at like, every event ever in San Diego handing out the same two samples.

    The Coronado bridge sunset is so pretty! We really do live in such a nice place.

    1. I, um, sniffed the blue cheese and bacon potato chips. Does that count ๐Ÿ™‚

      The Cravory samples, indeed, had a great uniform army look to em. Very precise, very organized. Me likes too.

      I wish I tried the Sadie Rose bread! Carbs sounds good right now for some reason. I don’t see Nothing Bundt Cakes very often at these events. Which sucked considering I can never get enough of their free samples (when I’m INSIDE their store) but could only stomach one sample on the ship (b/c I was so full).

      San Diego rules…other cities….drool?

      Hope you had a great long weekend Mary ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Ahh I wish I went this sounds nice! Glad that the boat was big enough that you didn’t get any seasickness either!!

    All the seafood looks really yummy especially that beautiful scallop ceviche on the shell! Bf got a speargun to go spearfishing but I’m insisting that he learns to identify scallop shells so that he can pick some up from the bottom of the ocean for dinner! Free scallops (there probably is a license you have to get but still) that would be the best ๐Ÿ˜€

    Your pictures of the Coronado bridge are gorgeous. I’ve been wanting to do a Hornblower cruise but its always kind of pricey and I think we’ll wait until Restaurant Week to attempt it. Definitely seems worth it ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi J.S.,

      I almost got sea sick when the boat first took off. But I think it was because I was on the enclosed second floor and I was facing the opposite direction than the boat was going (and looking out window). Oh man I hope your BF learns to scallop dive too. That would be so awesome (especially when you host a raw scallop party this year…right ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

      I’m not sure how much a Hornblower cruise dinner would cost. I agree it must be pricey. I didn’t know they participated in RW. I didn’t have a great experience with RW last season but I’d be curious about Hornblower’s participation in it. Hope you get to try them out soon and that we bump into each other at one of these events before the end of the year!

        1. I just saw that event yesterday! Not sure if I’m going to rsvp as it seems to be more drinking than food stuff. I hope you go and do some line dancin’ at Moonshine Flats ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Yeah all those little buttons on a fancy real camera scares me. Hence why I’m content with my little iphone for the moment.

      Thank you for the link to your review! I figured you of all people knew the details of those cookie samples.

      Hope you enjoyed the 4th Soo!

  4. So this was the event you were telling me about. Too bad I missed it. The views are amazing. What were the seating arrangements like? Most people walk around or stand while eating? What was the crowd like? Was it mostly young kids? I want to try one of these events one of these days. I see a lot of truly passionate foodies on Yelp (that write reviews that are actually quite informative and helpful), but at the same time, there are sooo many weirdos on there.

    1. Hi Miss K

      Yes this was the event! You would have enjoyed it because there was quite of bit of food and drinks. No seating arrangement – it was just wander the ship to your hearts content. Oh – and they had Massage Envy there too giving free chair massages. There were plenty of tables/chairs on the first and second floor so it was quite comfortable. The 3rd floor had mostly chairs and it was kinda romantic (I know, barf right). I agree there are some passionate writers on yelp. It’s like their own way to blog (about food and such) which I understand and respect. Hope you had a relaxing weekend ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I recently joined yelp but found an invite either to this or a similar one in my spam folder, like 3 weeks after they sent it! Looks like lots of interesting samples though! Hopefully I can catch the next yelp event a lot earlier though! let me know if you see another one!

    I think I went on a hornblower crusie just once, and there was a band playing there… Carolina Liar? I may have even gotten a picture with them but that’s definitely buried on my computer! Ha pictures of people instead of food, so rare these days…

    1. Hi Lynn

      Yeah trust me – I don’t see these yelp invites alot of times either. There have been a few I totally overlooked or didn’t rsvp in time for. It’s alright as I’ve been to a few cool ones in the past year or so. I will let you know of a future event though (assuming I receive/remember the invite).

      I rarely take pictures of people. Which was kinda strange because people were taking lots of selfies and group shots that evening on the ship. I personally think a good shot of food can outshine any pretty girl or handsome dude ๐Ÿ™‚ J/k…

      Have a great week Lynn –

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