How to choose a UK cruise that visits the most iconic lighthouses?

Before embarking on a cruise journey, what if we told you that the best part might not be sipping a cocktail by the pool, but rather the dramatically stunning views of lighthouses perched on cliff edges and rocky islands? These towering structures, which once guided sailors safely to shore, are now iconic landmarks that are a must-visit for every cruise lover. The UK, with a rich maritime history, boasts several such lighthouses that paint a picture of romance, intrigue, and architectural splendor. Moreover, they're a feast for the eyes when viewed from the luxury of a cruise ship. So, how does one go about choosing a cruise that provides a tour of the most iconic lighthouses? Let's delve right in.

Identifying the Lighthouses You'd Like to Visit

To begin with, identify the lighthouses you're most intrigued by and would like to visit.

The UK is home to a significant number of lighthouses, each with its unique history and architectural style. A particularly popular one is the Portland Bill Lighthouse, located in Dorset, England. This lighthouse, standing tall on the Southernmost point of the island, is a sight to behold. Its powerful light beam can be seen from miles away, guiding ships safely around the dangerous coast of Portland.

Another noteworthy lighthouse is the Longstone Lighthouse, situated on the Farne Islands off Northumberland's coast. This lighthouse is famous for the heroic actions of Grace Darling, who, along with her father, saved nine people from a shipwreck in 1838.

The Eddystone Lighthouse, located on a dangerous rocky island in the English Channel, is yet another must-visit. The current structure is the fourth lighthouse built on the same spot, the previous three having been destroyed.

Choosing the Right Cruise

Once you've identified the lighthouses you'd like to see, the next step is to find a cruise that includes these landmarks in its itinerary.

When choosing a cruise, take into consideration the amount of time you have. A day cruise may allow you to visit one or two lighthouses, while a longer cruise may offer a more comprehensive tour. For instance, if you wish to visit both the Portland Bill and Longstone lighthouses, you should opt for a longer cruise that covers both the Southern and Northern parts of the UK.

Another aspect to consider is the time of year. Some cruises operate only during certain periods of the year. For instance, cruises that visit the Eddystone Lighthouse often operate only during the summer months due to the rough seas in winter.

Booking Your Cruise

Now that you've identified the lighthouses you wish to visit and the cruise that takes you there, the next step is to book your tour.

When booking your cruise, bear in mind that popular cruises can fill up quickly, particularly during peak travel seasons. Therefore, it's advisable to book well in advance. Be sure to read the terms and conditions thoroughly before confirming your booking. This is particularly important if you're booking a cruise that includes a visit to a lighthouse on an island, as sea conditions can sometimes result in changes to the itinerary.

Making the Most of Your Visit

It's not every day that you get to see a lighthouse up close. Therefore, make the most of your visit by learning about the history of the lighthouse, taking plenty of photographs, and soaking in the stunning views.

As you approach the lighthouse, observe its architecture. Many of these structures were built centuries ago and have withstood the test of time and weather. Inside, you'll often find information panels detailing the lighthouse's history and the life of its keepers. Take the time to read these panels and gain a deeper understanding of the lighthouse's role in maritime history.

As you embark on this adventure, remember that each lighthouse is unique, with its own story to tell. So, take a moment to appreciate the resilience of these structures and the crucial role they've played in guiding sailors safely home.

Cruise Routes to Consider

If you're passionate about both cruising and lighthouses, certain cruises focus on maritime heritage and include stops at or near iconic lighthouses. One excellent choice could be the North Sea cruise, which affords a splendid view of many England lighthouses, including the famous Portland Bill. This lighthouse stands majestically on the Jurassic Coast, making it a must-see for anyone with a keen interest in both nautical and geological history.

Moreover, if you want to enhance your maritime knowledge, you might want to opt for a cruise that includes a guided day tour to the Trinity House, which has been safeguarding the British and Irish coasts with lighthouses since 1514. This will provide a comprehensive overview of the history of lighthouses in the UK.

If you're looking for something a little different, why not consider a Cape Cod cruise? While not in the UK, this American cruise offers a tour past the Nobska Lighthouse in Woods Hole and the iconic Sandy Neck Lighthouse in Barnstable. This is a fantastic opportunity to compare the United States lighthouses with those in the UK.

Lastly, for those interested in combining their cruise with a bit of a festive spirit, some cruises take you past lighthouses and also visit Christmas markets. Imagine sipping hot mulled wine, shopping for quaint trinkets, and admiring the illuminated lighthouse in Bar Harbor.

Land Adventures for Lighthouse Enthusiasts

While a cruise ship provides an excellent vantage point for admiring lighthouses from a distance, there's something special about setting foot on the island a lighthouse calls home. If you're an adventurous soul, consider a cruise that includes the option to disembark and explore the islands where these lighthouses are located.

For instance, a visit to the Farne Islands allows you to not only tour the Longstone Lighthouse but also hike around the islands, providing breathtaking views of the North Sea. Similarly, a stop at Portland Bill offers the opportunity to hike along the Jurassic Coast and get a close-up view of the lighthouse.

Moreover, some cruises offer tours to rock lighthouses, like the Eddystone Lighthouse. The thrilling boat ride through the choppy seas to reach this island lighthouse is an adventure in itself.

In essence, when you book that cruise, make sure you're not just sailing past these historic structures. Take the opportunity to step off the cruise ship, feel the wind in your hair, and really experience these magnificent lighthouses.

Conclusion: The Lighthouse Journey Awaits

A journey through the seas, visiting iconic lighthouses, is a unique experience that combines the luxury of a cruise with the awe-inspiring presence of these historic maritime navigational aids. Remember, each lighthouse, whether it's a head lighthouse or a harbor lighthouse, has its own tale of resilience and service. So, whether you're a seasoned cruise critic or a first-time cruiser, a lighthouse tour is an enriching journey that can add a new dimension to your cruising adventure. Preparation is key, so identify your lighthouses, choose your cruise and prepare for a journey like no other.