Travel Q& A: Lighthouse Inns, Cruises to India

By K.C. Summers
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, January 11, 2009

Q. My two sisters and I would like to take my mom to stay at a lighthouse for her 60th birthday in May. This has always been a dream for her. Can you recommend an authentic lighthouse within a few hours' drive where all four of us could spend the night?

Keli Fisher, Manassas

A. Would your mom settle for doing a little lighthouse-keeping on her 62nd birthday? So many people want to spend the night in a lighthouse, and there are so few of them remaining, that in many cases you must reserve more than a year in advance.

It's unclear how many lighthouses still exist in the United States -- it depends on what you consider a lighthouse, and some tallies include beacons and buoy tenders -- but a rough estimate would be about 600, said Richard Gales, spokesman for the U.S. Lighthouse Society in Hansville, Wash. Fewer than two dozen offer overnight lodging.

The closest lighthouse bed-and-breakfast I could find is the Saugerties Lighthouse in Upstate New York, about a six-hour drive from Washington. Keeper Patrick Landewe said he's almost fully booked through 2009 and is taking reservations for 2010. (May weekends for both years are booked.)

But it would be worth the wait. The sturdy brick lighthouse, which dates to 1869, sits on a spit of land in the middle of the Hudson River; you hike in from the road on a half-mile trail. There are two guest bedrooms, a shared bath and a panoramic view of the Hudson Valley and the Catskills. "It's remote, it's peaceful and it's quiet," Landewe said, adding that there are no microwave ovens, hot tubs or other modern fripperies. Rates are $200 per room per night and include breakfast. Details: 845-247-0656,

Other lighthouse inns on the East Coast include the Isle Au Haut Light Station in Maine, where guests arrive on the mail boat and there are no telephones, electric lines or auto traffic; the Rose Island Lighthouse in Narragansett Bay, R.I., where rental of the keeper's apartment includes an hour's worth of daily record-keeping and chores; and Tibbetts Point Lighthouse on Lake Ontario in Upstate New York, a youth hostel with 24 beds. For more, see the Lighthouse Society's list at

We're looking for a cruise that stops at several ports around India. Any suggestions?

Henry and Janice Nicowski, Dunkirk

Several cruise lines offer trips that stop at Indian ports, but you'll first have to get yourself to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. That's because most cruises that visit India do so as parts of longer voyages, generally leaving from Dubai and ending in Singapore. Lorna Zimmerman, an accredited cruise counselor and owner of Portfolio Travel in Northwest Washington, said most of the trips are offered in late fall.

Zimmerman found five cruises, most leaving in November, that begin in Dubai and stop at cities along India's west coast, including Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Mormugao and Cochin. Royal Caribbean, for example, has a 13-night Dubai-Singapore cruise on the Legend of the Seas leaving Nov. 4. It docks in Mumbai for two days and in Mormugao and Cochin for a day each before heading to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. The brochure cost starts at $1,939 per person double for an interior stateroom, not including round-trip airfare to Dubai. Details: 866-562-7625,

Other cruise lines visiting India include Azamara, Cunard, Holland America, Princess, Seabourn and Silversea.

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