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Northern Lights cruises

Northern Lights cruises

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The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, is a natural phenomenon that never fails to inspire no matter where in the world you are lucky enough to witness it. A green shimmering light that dances through the sky at the very tips of the northern hemisphere, on Northern Lights cruises you’ll find the best chances to take in this stunning display in comfort and style.

Northern Lights cruises by year

Northern Lights Cruises - Destinations

Norway

These voyages generally depart from the UK and sail up along the coast of Norway, combining the quest for sightings of the Northern Lights with the fabulous Fjords and small fishing villages and towns. On a two week cruise you might venture as far north as Hammerfest, deep within the Arctic Circle and Europe's most northerly point. As you gradually travel further north during your Northern Lights cruise the scenery and landscapes become ever more remote and dramatic.

Iceland and Greenland

Also regularly departing from UK ports such as Southampton, for those hunting the northern lights Iceland is a great choice. As well as limited light pollution at night as you sail around the land of ice and fire during the day you can take in equally stunning waterfalls, glaciers, geysers and black sand beaches or just relax in a soothing natural hot spring. Some Northern Lights cruises also head out further to Greenland where you’ll have all the factors of latitude and isolation that create the best chance to see the lights while also being able to explore the unique local culture and landscapes of the world’s largest island.

North America

If you’re wanting to explore the last frontier of Alaska and Canada to spot the Northern Lights, you’ll find plenty of wet and wild activities to make your cruise the experience of a lifetime. Day time activities can include taking a ride on the world- famous Icy Strait Point Zip Rider, discovering the local history and culture at the Totem Heritage Center at Ketchikan and not to mention the iconic landscapes and wildlife all around from bears and salmon in the natural parks to glaciers and whale watching.

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Visiting Northern Lights

Northern Lights Cruises Tips

Cruise Lines and Ships

Cruises to see the Northern Lights are extremely popular and therefore book far in advance and frequently sell out. Our advice is to plan and book early to avoid disappointment. Cruise lines that offer Northern Lights cruises include P&O Cruises, Fred.Olsen and Hurtigruten. Hurtigruten are a great choice with their Norwegian region expertise and Northern Lights promise.


Best time of year to see the Northern Lights

In order to see the lights with the human eye the conditions must be dark and cloudless. Therefore, the best time to see the northern lights is in the winter season between September and March. As this is only a 7-month window in the cruise calendar, cruises to see the Northern Lights as part of their itinerary can book up quite quickly so we advise you book well in advance in order to get the ship, cabin, destination and, of course, date you’re after.

In terms of time of day, there’s no point hanging out on deck straining your neck to see them, the most likely time of day for the lights to appear is between 9:30pm to 1am so we suggest this is when you put time aside to catch the show. However under good conditions it’s possible to see them anywhere between 6pm and 4am and if this happens, there’s typically an announcement to inform you. It’s even been known for evening shows in the main theatre to pause halfway through after an announcement from the captain so everyone can make their way to their favoured vantage point.


Fly Cruise or No Fly Cruise

These voyages generally depart from the UK and sail up along the coast of Norway, combining the quest for sightings of the Northern Lights with the fabulous Fjords and small fishing villages and towns. On two-week Northern Lights cruises you might venture as far north as Hammerfest, deep within the Arctic Circle and Europe's most Northerly point. As you gradually travel further north the scenery and landscapes become ever more remote and dramatic.

Why A Cruise Is the best way to see the Northern Lights

Cruising is one if not ‘the’ best ways to see the lights as a cruise ship offers the best conditions to see the light, avoiding light pollution from towns and cities and gives an even better view than on land as well as being able to physically move to improve the conditions needed such as heading further out to see to avoid light and air pollution for the port. The deck, your cabin’s private balcony or the public indoor venues with panorama windows make for the perfect place to take in the show, along with all your home comforts such as a cosy chair, blanket and hot drink.


Northern Lights Theme Cruises

Cruises with a theme, such as 'In search of the Northern Lights', will often have lecturers on board to enhance your experience. You might also learn about astronomy and the history of the area to gain a deeper insight into life in the Arctic Circle in addition to lectures about the Northern Lights themselves. The crew on board will do all in their power to alert you to any sightings of the Northern Lights so that you don't miss out, and although there is no guarantee that they will appear we have had fantastic feedback from these cruises in the past and so early booking is recommended. Learn more about expedition and adventure cruising.

What are the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon that occurs in the night sky when solar winds flow and hit gas molecules which light up, with a green tint forming a waving diaphanous light that can last for hours. Normally, it’s green but other colours spanning from blues to purples to reds are possible. It is an astonishing and awe-inspiring sight that can be seen as far south as Mexico but it is most often spotted in high latitude regions such as the Arctic and Antarctica close to either the North or South Poles. The Northern Lights are also known as the Aurora Borealis (Northern Dawn) while the equivalent phenomena in the south is called the Aurora Australis (Southern Dawn).

Northern Lights Countries and Ports





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