Mysterious morning light at the Broadway Pier.

Orange and yellow logo of visiting Norwegian Sun cruise ship reflected on rippled water in San Diego Bay.
Orange and yellow logo of visiting Norwegian Sun cruise ship reflected on rippled water in San Diego Bay.

A big rush this morning. But I had enough time to walk down to the Broadway Pier.  Slowing myself for a few moments, breathing in fresh air, I was enchanted by the surrounding quiet, the growing morning light, and mysterious reflections.

Bow and bridge of the Norwegian Sun, docked at the San Diego Cruise Ship Terminal. The image is reflected in the orange and clear windows of a nearby gift shop.
Bow and bridge of the Norwegian Sun, docked at the San Diego Cruise Ship Terminal. The image is reflected in the orange and clear windows of a nearby gift shop.
Early morning light at San Diego's Broadway Pier. The Coronado ferry has begun another trip across the quiet, glassy water.
Early morning light at San Diego’s Broadway Pier. The Coronado ferry has begun another trip across the quiet, glassy water.
Reflection of downtown San Diego's nearby skyline in the windows of the Port Pavilion. Photo taken as the sun climbs above building rooftops, from the Broadway Pier.
Reflection of downtown San Diego’s nearby skyline in the windows of the Port Pavilion. Photo taken as the sun climbs above building rooftops, from the Broadway Pier.

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Two beautiful princesses cruise into San Diego.

The huge Crown Princess cruise ship docked on San Diego's Embarcadero.
The huge Crown Princess cruise ship is docked on San Diego’s Embarcadero.

Everyone has seen photos of cruise ships, but two beauties were docked on San Diego’s waterfront this morning and gleaming in the sunshine, so I had to whip out my camera!

Once in a while, two or three cruise ships visit downtown at the same time. Some of these vessels are so huge that stood on end they’d dwarf many nearby skyscrapers. The two ships I saw in port today are operated by Princess Cruise Line. Both are classified as Grand-class cruise ships and have nearly identical lengths. Even after seeing them in person, it’s hard for me to grasp that these ships are 950 feet long! The Crown Princess can carry 3,080 passengers with a crew of 1,201. The Star Princess accommodates 2,590 passengers and a crew of 1,150. Incredible!

Two luxurious Grand-class cruise ships gleam on either side of the Cruise Ship Terminal.
Two luxurious Grand-class cruise ships gleam on either side of the Cruise Ship Terminal.
Gull checks out an amazing morning sight. Photo taken from the Broadway Pier.
Gull checks out an amazing morning sight. Photo taken from the Broadway Pier.
Man gazes at the sunlit bay near what soon will be an observation platform.
Man gazes at the sunlit bay.  The fenced area is where the Bay Cafe used to stand.  It soon will be an observation platform.

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Bay Cafe makes way for new observation platform.

The Bay Cafe is making way for an observation platform on San Diego Bay.
The Bay Cafe is making way for an observation platform on San Diego Bay.

The Bay Cafe is almost gone.

Many years ago, I loved to grab some food in the small waterfront cafe and bring it up onto the rooftop. From a table beneath an umbrella, I’d gaze out at the sparkling water.  I’d observe passing sailboats, people on the Broadway Pier, and cruise ships docked at the nearby terminal. When two or more huge cruise ships were in port, I’d watch with interest as the departing Coronado ferry and harbor tour boats navigated the narrow space between them. In those days, the Bay Cafe also served as an embarkation hub for San Diego Harbor Excursion, now called Flagship. A ramp from inside the deli plunged down to a floating dock, where a gift shop was housed in a special boat. On this small dock a harbor cruise photographer asked guests to pose by a life preserver.

Up on the roof, if I wanted a change of view, I’d grab another table where I could gaze back toward downtown and watch tourists flow along Harbor Drive. There were almost always several empty tables. Few people seemed to realize the rooftop was open.

The Bay Cafe’s roof was also used for many years by broadcasters covering parades down Harbor Drive. From up there you could see everything.

My walk this morning brought back those memories. And a bit of sadness. The Bay Cafe is being demolished as I type these very words. The structure will be removed, but the concrete pad and pilings will remain, as part of an observation platform jutting over the water. It’s just one small part of the Embarcadero’s recent renovation. I’m sure the change will be great. I believe there are supposed to be benches where folks can just sit and enjoy the views. If there are, I’ll surely enjoy them. But time and progress march on. The Bay Cafe is almost just a memory.

Demolition of the old waterfront cafe and harbor tour embarkation hub is underway.
Demolition of the old waterfront cafe and harbor tour embarkation hub is underway.
Many years ago dining could be enjoyed on the sunny roof, with views of the water, sailboats and downtown skyscrapers.
Many years ago dining could be enjoyed on the sunny roof, with views of the water, sailboats and downtown skyscrapers.
Improvements on the Embarcadero consign this wonderful place to memory.
Improvements on the Embarcadero consign this wonderful place to memory.

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Timeline shows history of San Diego’s Embarcadero.

Images around a new pavilion near Broadway Pier show history of the Embarcadero.
Images around a new pavilion near Broadway Pier show history of the Embarcadero.

San Diego’s Embarcadero has undergone some major renovations. One of the new pavilions still under construction near the Broadway Pier features a large display that provides a timeline of the area’s history. Notable developments along the waterfront through the passing years are documented with historical photographs.

While many of these images concern more recent events, it still makes a fascinating visual time capsule. Here are some pics that I took!

1542: Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo claims San Diego Bay for Spain. He named it San Miguel Bay.
1542: Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo claims San Diego Bay for Spain. He named it San Miguel Bay.
1913: San Diego's Broadway Pier makes its debut. It certainly looks different today!
1913: San Diego’s Broadway Pier makes its debut. It certainly looks different today!
1930s: Baseball played across street. Lane Field was home of Pacific Coast League Padres.
1930s: Baseball played across street. Lane Field was home of Pacific Coast League Padres.
1962: San Diego Unified Port District is established.
1962: San Diego Unified Port District is established.
1970: Broadway Pier gets a makeover. A cruise ship terminal is added.
1970: Broadway Pier gets a makeover. A cruise ship terminal is added.
1976: North and South Embarcadero Marina Parks are dedicated.
1976: North and South Embarcadero Marina Parks are dedicated.
1980: Seaport Village becomes the newest San Diego attraction.
1980: Seaport Village becomes the newest San Diego attraction.
1985: North Embarcadero's Crescent area between Coast Guard station and Grape Street renovated.
1985: North Embarcadero’s Crescent area renovated.
1985: Princess Cruises bases its "Love Boat" in San Diego.
1985: Princess Cruises bases its “Love Boat” in San Diego.
1988: San Diego Yacht Club successfully defends America's Cup.
1988: San Diego Yacht Club successfully defends America’s Cup.
1989: San Diego Convention Center opens.
1989: San Diego Convention Center opens.
2003: First of six Urban Trees art exhibits along the Embarcadero.
2003: First of six Urban Trees art exhibits along the Embarcadero.
2007: Seward Johnson's Unconditional Surrender statue goes on display near USS Midway.
2007: Seward Johnson’s Unconditional Surrender statue goes on display near USS Midway.
2009: A record-breaking cruise ship season!
2009: A record-breaking cruise ship season!
2010: Port Pavilion opens on Broadway Pier. It's been over four years already! Time flies!
2010: Port Pavilion opens on Broadway Pier. It’s been over four years already? Time flies!
2011: America's Cup World Series regatta takes place on San Diego Bay.
2011: America’s Cup World Series regatta takes place on San Diego Bay.
2011: North Embarcadero Project (Phase 1) passes.
2011: North Embarcadero Project (Phase 1) passes.
2012: North Embarcadero Visionary Plan breaks ground nearby.
2012: North Embarcadero Visionary Plan breaks ground nearby.
2012: Ruocco Park immediately north of Seaport Village is dedicated.
2012: Ruocco Park immediately north of Seaport Village is dedicated.
2012: Port of San Diego turns 50 years old.
2012: Port of San Diego is 50 years old.
2013: San Diego's historic Star of India tall ship turns 150 years old.
2013: San Diego’s historic Star of India tall ship turns 150 years old.
2014: Lots of cool waterfront improvements opened, including this pavilion!
2014: Lots of cool waterfront improvements opened, including this pavilion!

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Cruise ship and harbor tour boats at dock.

cruise ship and harbor tour boats at dock

This photo was taken from Navy Pier just south of the Broadway Pier. It shows a cluster of Hornblower and Flagship harbor excursion boats, plus the big Celebrity Solstice cruise ship at the San Diego cruise ship terminal. If you were to turn to the right, you’d see the historic Santa Fe train depot and shining downtown skyline closeby.

The red, white and blue Patriot speed boat is a new addition to the growing fleet of tour and charter boats seen daily on our beautiful Big Bay!

The following pics were taken on another day:

Harbor cruise ships and a Water Taxi next to Broadway Pier.
Harbor tour ships and a Water Taxi next to Broadway Pier.
Harbor cruise photographer get photographed!
Harbor tour photographer gets photographed!
People linger on dock near water taxis.
People linger on dock near water taxis.
Harbor cruise ships with Navy Broadway Complex in the background.
Harbor cruise ships with Navy Broadway Complex in the background.
A view of downtown and harbor cruise ships from approaching ferry.
A view of downtown and harbor cruise ships from approaching ferry.
The Lord Hornblower approaches as people disembark from Coronado ferry.
The Lord Hornblower approaches as people disembark from Coronado ferry.
Patriot speed boat leaves dock, passing USS Midway.
Patriot speed boat leaves dock, passing USS Midway.

Cruise ships dock beside colorful public art.

cruise ships and murals on san diego bay

Here’s a photograph showing several of the murals on the north side of the cruise ship terminal, in downtown San Diego. These colorful new murals show cruise ships, marine life and other sea-related imagery. Last weekend two large ships were visiting, one docked on either side of the terminal. I believe it’s that time of the year when many ships visit San Diego as they transition from summer Alaska cruises and head down the coast to Mexico or the Panama Canal on their way to the Caribbean.

Here are some cruise ship pics taken on a later date:

Costa Deliziosa docked in San Diego.
Costa Deliziosa docked in San Diego.
Cruise ship Arcadia rises beyond tourists and pedicab.
Cruise ship Arcadia rises beyond tourists and pedicab.

More assorted pics of public art at the cruise ship terminal:

One of several promotional signs on the parking lot side of the terminal.
One of several promotional signs on the parking lot side of terminal.
Cruise San Diego! It's a beautiful place!
Tourists are encouraged to cruise San Diego!
Clock on street side of San Diego cruise ship terminal.
Clock on street side of cruise ship terminal resembles ship’s wheel.
These four sculptures were part of past Urban Tree exhibitions on the Embarcadero.
These sculptures were part of past Urban Trees exhibitions on the Embarcadero.

Stylish mural on San Diego’s Cruise Ship Terminal.

cruise ship terminal mural

Check out this stylish piece of art decorating the south side of San Diego’s Cruise Ship Terminal on the B Street Pier. The Trompe-L’oeil Mural painted in 2005 by artist Joshua Winer definitely has personality! I like how a bunch of stools have been randomly grouped next to the mural–as if they’re part of the scene! It’s a shame nobody was perched on one!

I considered cropping out the security camera at the top of the photo, but didn’t. It adds a somewhat disturbing dimension to the colorful bit of innocent nostalgia.

Here are some pics I took at a later time…

The lively Cruise Ship Terminal mural includes an elephant!
The lively Cruise Ship Terminal mural includes an elephant!
Part of the fun mural shows fishermen with a big catch.
Part of the fun mural shows fishermen with a big catch.
Standing back a bit to provide a little context.
Standing back a bit to provide a little context.