After 5 summers, we decided it was time to take a lighthouse cruise out of Portland, Maine. After all, when folks come to visit we want to be able to recommend something memorable from first hand experience so we booked the Lighthouse Lover’s cruise with Portland Discovery. While the cruise certainly produces the promised lighthouses it also gives you a feeling for the harbor, the history, and several nearby islands.
We ordered our tickets online and got an immediate receipt and confirmation of the date and time for the cruise. You present your receipt at their small shop at the wharf, receive your tickets, and line up to board. Our cruise was on the Islander which was a very comfortable open observation deck on top of an enclosed cabin. It wasn’t overcrowded so that made it nice. We took the earliest cruise hoping that the light would cooperate for some good pictures.
Almost immediately after leaving the wharf the narration starts and as the boat approached Bug Light the narrator told the story of the light and went on to point out that the land nearby was once a shipyard where 30,000 people worked feverishly producing Liberty Ships during World War II.
You’re quickly past Bug Light when you come onto Spring Point Light which was built to protect ships from running aground on underwater ledges known as Spring Point Ledges.
The boat turns south. In the distance you can see Portland Head light at Cape Elizabeth and along the way you are between South Portland, House Island, and Cushing Island. At Portland Head Light the boat slows and you have plenty of time for pictures.
A turn east and you’re heading for Ram Island Light. Unlike so many lights in Maine this structure is not painted white nor open for visitors. It simply does its job warning people away from the rocks just below the surface that can ruin ships.
After Ram Island Light the cruise is really about the Islands and the harbor and the narrator does a good job pointing out interesting features and telling folk stories from the area.
Fort Gorges, one of the oddest structures you will see, is a civil war fort that was never completed but was designed to protect the harbor from attack lduring the war.
The cruise was great and we would recommend it to our friends. As it moves on toward fall you want to be sure and bring a coat because the temperature changes can be swift and dramatic.
Long Wharf is easy to find and Portland Discovery has good directions on their website coming from various point of the compass.