Exploring the Embarcadero in Downtown San Diego, California. Downtown San Diego is the city center of San Diego, California, the eighth largest city in the United States. The Embarcadero in San Diego, California is the area along the San Diego harbor on the east side of San Diego Bay. “Embarcadero” is a Spanish word meaning “boarding place”. The Embarcadero is home to the San Diego cruise ship terminal, the museum ships USS Midway at Navy Pier and Star of India, seven other historic vessels belonging to the San Diego Maritime Museum, and various restaurants and shops from the North Embarcadero down through Seaport Village.