Brit Lit and Lighthouses

By K.C. Summers
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, May 10, 2009

Q. My mom turns 60 this fall, and my brothers and I want to take her to the United Kingdom. She has expressed an interest in staying at a lighthouse bed-and-breakfast and would also love to see sites related to British writers. Can you suggest anything?

Rachel Ellehuus, Alexandria

A. The romance of a lighthouse B&B, the allure of British literary sites: It's the perfect trip for an Anglophile. And as luck would have it, several of Britain's lighthouse accommodations are near writers' stomping grounds.

If your mom is a fan of Ian McEwan, John Fowles, Jane Austen or Agatha Christie (strange bedfellows, I know), the county of Dorset on England's south coast is a good place to start. You could stay in Branscombe Lodge Cottage, a two-bedroom property on the grounds of the Old Higher Lighthouse on the Isle of Portland (011-44-1305-822300, Lots to explore there, including Chesil Bank, the setting for McEwan's recent novel "On Chesil Beach"; Lyme Regis, featured in Austen's "Persuasion" and Fowles's "The French Lieutenant's Woman"; and farther afield, Christie's holiday home near Dartmouth in Devon. All of the cottage's rooms have sea views. Cost in September is about $750 a week.

If Dylan Thomas appeals, your mom might like the West Usk Lighthouse in South Wales (011-44-1633-810126,, which pops up repeatedly on Internet searches as one of the most romantic B&Bs in Britain. It's about an hour's drive east of Swansea, where you can tour the poet's childhood haunts and check out his favorite pubs. The lighthouse, a two-hour drive from London, has wedge-shaped rooms, a stone spiral staircase and a wishing well. Rates start at about $195 per night for a standard family room.

For more choices: VisitBritain ( and "New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide" (, which, title notwithstanding, has a good list of U.K. lighthouse accommodations.

I just returned from a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise to the Bahamas. A passenger jumped overboard the first night, and the ship searched the area for half a day; we ended up not going to one of the islands on the itinerary. Am I entitled to any type of credit?

Scott Miller, Bethesda

Short answer: No. Most cruise lines reserve the right to cancel or substitute scheduled ports of call at any time and for any reason without prior notice. Usually that happens because of weather.

"It was an unfortunate incident," said NCL spokeswoman Courtney Recht, "but we don't normally reimburse guests when we have an incident like that." She said the line's policy is outlined in the contract passengers receive when they buy a ticket.

Send queries by e-mail ( or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and town.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company