How to See the Northern Lights on a Cruise

by Kim MacKinnon

How to See the Northern Lights on a Cruise

by Kim MacKinnon

Seeing the northern lights in person tops many travelers' wish lists, and although viewings aren't something that can be scheduled, a cruise to the right place at the optimal time of year can boost your chances. Without question, north of the Arctic Circle is the best place to witness the northern lights, especially between September and March. Only a few cruise lines offer specific trips to chase the sometimes elusive lights; but even if you don't spot them, you’ll have plenty of opportunities for terrific winter excursions, from snowmobiling to dog-sledding and even spending the night in a snow hotel.

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Aurora Borealis over Norway / iStock.com / Kolbjorn H. Larssen
Hurtigruten excursion in Lapland
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Hurtigruten

Hurtigruten is a daily passenger and freight shipping service that runs year-round along Norway’s western and northern coast between Bergen and Kirkenes. Its six-day “In Search of the Northern Lights” cruise (Bergen to Tromso or Tromso to Bergen) focuses on helping passengers find, photograph, and learn about the northern lights. Excursions such as a husky dog sled adventure or a nighttime snowmobile trip offer good opportunities to see the aurora borealis, but so does just standing on deck in the dark, late at night.

Hurtigruten is a daily passenger and freight shipping service that runs year-round along Norway’s western and northern coast between Bergen and Kirkenes. Its six-day “In Search of the Northern Lights” cruise (Bergen to Tromso or Tromso to Bergen) focuses on helping passengers find, photograph, and learn about the northern lights. Excursions such as a husky dog sled adventure or a nighttime snowmobile trip offer good opportunities to see the aurora borealis, but so does just standing on deck in the dark, late at night.

P & O Northern Lights Cruise
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P&O Cruises

This 12-day “Norway & Northern Lights” cruise leaves from Southampton, England, and heads to Norway — north of the Arctic Circle — in search of the mystical lights. Ports include Stavanger, Tromso, three nights in Alta (home to the world’s first northern lights observatory), and one night in Flaam. You then cruise through Sognefjord, the longest navigable fjord in the world, and back to England. Several excursions focus on spotting the lights.

This 12-day “Norway & Northern Lights” cruise leaves from Southampton, England, and heads to Norway — north of the Arctic Circle — in search of the mystical lights. Ports include Stavanger, Tromso, three nights in Alta (home to the world’s first northern lights observatory), and one night in Flaam. You then cruise through Sognefjord, the longest navigable fjord in the world, and back to England. Several excursions focus on spotting the lights.

Stavanger, Norway
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Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Fred. Olsen offers northern lights cruises leaving from Southampton, Liverpool, or Tilbury, England, that cruise the coast of Norway on the way to the Arctic Circle. Several itineraries are available: One heads to Tromso, the gateway to the Arctic, then to Bergen, Alesund, and Alta. Another trip takes you past the Torghatten mountain range and the Seven Sisters mountains, with stops in Bergen, Stavanger, and Alta. Plenty of excursions are specific to witnessing the lights, but there are also city sights and local attractions to explore at each stop.

Fred. Olsen offers northern lights cruises leaving from Southampton, Liverpool, or Tilbury, England, that cruise the coast of Norway on the way to the Arctic Circle. Several itineraries are available: One heads to Tromso, the gateway to the Arctic, then to Bergen, Alesund, and Alta. Another trip takes you past the Torghatten mountain range and the Seven Sisters mountains, with stops in Bergen, Stavanger, and Alta. Plenty of excursions are specific to witnessing the lights, but there are also city sights and local attractions to explore at each stop.

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