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The holidays are magical in San Francisco, and on a trip this last weekend we had the pleasure of  enjoying an amazing brunch with Santa aboard a cruise around the bay!

The Hornblower Santa Brunch Cruise is a two-hour tour around the San Francisco Bay all while enjoying a lovely brunch buffet with live entertainment, and of course the star of the show, Santa!

The Hornblower sets sail from Pier 3 with easy parking on the pier. After stopping for a meeting with Santa, we boarded the boat and checked in to get our table number.

The brunch buffet is open and ready as soon as you board, as is the endless coffee, orange juice and champagne! Our drinks were never empty the entire time thanks to the amazing wait staff, and my husband and I loved the mimosas, while Miles, our three-year-old, loved getting his own large glass of OJ!

The buffet was set up in four sections, with a cold selection first including fruit, salad, pasta salads and veggies. Next was a hot food table with roasted red skin potatoes, eggs, bacon and sausage. There was a bread table with waffles, french toast, pastries, cakes and cookies. The last table was a carving station of meats.

The fruit and salads were crisp and fresh, the hot foods were delicious, and my son thoroughly enjoyed waffles and french toast with whipped cream and strawberries with an apple on the side (he was SO excited they had apples!).

The live entertainment was lovely. We had a darling piano player/singer who sang Christmas songs and carols, as well as some love songs, and even took requests! She hosted our tour around the bay as well, with so many fun facts about everything we saw.

Santa came out and greeted each of the guests, and sat down for the children (and let’s face it, some adults) to come sit on his lap and chat. They had a photographer onboard taking pictures of the families with Santa too (Miles didn’t want pictures WITH Santa, so we opted for just a family picture by the tree). Miles told Santa that he wanted a TV for Christmas, and it was at that moment that I wished Santa was allowed to tell kids, “fat chance!”

Once we finished eating, we headed outside to check out the views as we cruised along past the piers and toward the Golden Gate Bridge. We loved listening to the information about some of the piers we passed as well as the WWII submarine and battleship that we passed! Just before we reached the Golden Gate Bridge, we turned and headed over to my favorite part of the tour—Alcatraz! We sailed right up next to it, and around the entire island, getting amazing views of the prison and and of the outbuildings.

We then headed under the Bay Bridge and to AT&T park, home of the 2012 World Series winners, the San Francisco Giants, then turned and headed back to the pier.

We had an amazing time, the food was all delicious and fresh, available the entire cruise, and the entire staff was just so accommodating and wonderful. We felt welcomed, and by the end of our two-hour tour the entire staff knew Miles by name.

Our day started off rainy, cold and very windy and I was worried about rough water and sea sickness, especially for Miles. We gave him a children’s dose of motion sickness medicine just to be safe. The ship was sure rocking back and forth pretty bad when we first got there, but once we boarded I hardly felt the rough waves! I never once felt sick, nor did I see anyone get sick. So if you are worried about the sea sickness, just make sure to take a motion sickness pill beforehand, but the ride is very smooth, and lucky for us it ended with sun! If you happen to get tickets and the weather is bad, they assured me that they have only canceled one cruise in the last five or so years, and even if they cancel the cruise, you will still get the amazing brunch!

If you are in or around San Francisco this holiday season, you have to check out the Hornblower Santa Brunch Cruise! I highly recommend it for a great family day on the Bay! If you aren’t able to make it out for the holidays, the Hornblower Cruises run all year long for brunch and dinner, and in many cities! Check to see if you have Hornblower tours locally!

*Our cruise was complimentary for review purposes, but all opinions are my own.