Maybe you’re flying into San Diego from points elsewhere for your cruise. Or perhaps you already live in the area but want to save money on cruise parking so that you can put that cash toward your trip.
No matter the reason, we are strong believers that finding a way to the port — other than driving and parking — is a smart idea. Not only do you no longer have to paying for parking, but you also get to avoid the hassle and traffic of driving to the port on cruise day. It makes for a much more pleasant experience as you start your trip.
San Diego offers a number of ways to get to the cruise port from the airport, or any other place in the area.
Uber & Lyft
When it comes to the combination of convenience and cost, it’s tough to beat Uber & Lyft. With just a few clicks on a smartphone app, you can call up a ride that usually much cheaper than a traditional taxi. The rideshare companies are everywhere in the southern California area, meaning that you can get a ride just about anywhere you are. That’s why it’s our recommended way to get to the San Diego cruise terminal.
Drop Off/Pick Up at San Diego International Airport
You can be picked up and dropped off at the airport using these services. Note that there will be a small extra charge ($2.76) for pickups at the airport. Even so, rideshare services still offer a cheap way to the port or your hotel.
To give you an idea of what the fare would cost, here are some estimates for Uber & Lyft from various spots in San Diego and Southern California. Keep in mind that these prices are per car, not per person. If traveling with several people, the per person cost is even cheaper.
Rates below include a 15% customary tip for the taxi rate. Uber doesn’t use tipping. Tipping is optional with Lyft.
(First time rider with Lyft? Visit this link to download the app and receive a $50 free ride credit for your first rides. This usually makes Lyft the cheapest option.)
Want to take a regular yellow cab? If coming from an airport where there are dedicated cab station, it’s not a bad choice as there should be cars waiting for you. If you are anywhere else in the city, expect to wait at least a few minutes for your ride. Be sure to call early to ensure that you make it to the port on time.
We don’t see much advantage in taking a taxi over rideshare options as they typically cost more and likely won’t be as comfortable. Still, many people don’t have apps like Uber & Lyft downloaded nor do they want to deal with using them. In this case, a cab is a viable option to your cruise.
Above, we’ve listed the estimated taxi fare from popular areas to the cruise ports. These prices are by the car (not per person) and include a customary 15% gratuity.
Depending on which cruise line you take, they will either offer transportation to the port include in your cruise fare (such as Celebrity Cruises) or they will have a transfer that you can purchase separately. For example, Norwegian Cruise Lines offers a shuttle bus from the airport to the cruise port for $15 per person, each way.
If you’re interested in one of the cruise lines transfers, you’ll need to contact your cruise line directly (you can often book through your online account as well).
For a couple of reasons, we usually suggest going with another option than a cruise shuttle transfer. First, it is expensive. The rates are per person. So a family of four is paying $15 each ($60) to get from the airport to the San Diego cruise port, a distance of about a mile. Other options like Uber and taxis price based on the car, not the number of occupants.
Second, cruise transfers are extremely limited. In this case, it runs only from SAN to the cruise port… and only on the day of sailing. So if you come in early, are flying into an airport other than San Diego, or are staying at a hotel in the area, then the cruise line transfer isn’t a viable option.
Independent Shuttles/Car Services
There is no shortage of shuttle or car services that will get you to the port. These make sense when you are traveling with a large group, coming from farther away, or simply want to be transported in style. For most people, however, they are overkill — especially if coming from the airport, which is a short distance from the airport.
If you are interested in a shuttle or car service, here are some companies that provide transportation in the area:
One other thing to keep in mind is that the prices you are quoted won’t include gratuity, which can add on another 15-20% to your fare.
If you are flying into San Diego and want to go to the cruise port or downtown, then public transportation is by far the cheapest way to go.
San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) offers the 992 bus, which runs a convenient route from the airport straight to downtown. Routes run about every 15 minutes during the day. Fares are cheap — just $2.25 per person one way. Seniors over 60 pay $1.10 and kids under 5 are free.
For more details on the route, see the schedule here.
If you are coming from other points, you can plan your route on the San Diego MTS site.
If you are staying in a nearby hotel before your cruise, ask if they have a shuttle. Many hotels, especially those that offer parking packages, usually have shuttles that can take you to nearby points of interest. Best of all, they are usually free to guests.
More on Cruising From San Diego
San Diego Cruise Parking — Parking for your cruise? We’ve got you covered with all your parking options, including costs and discounts.
San Diego Cruise Hotels — Getting in late? Leaving early? Simply need a place to rest your head? We’ve rounded up the options for places to stay near the port.