You’ve made sure to dress warmly in a thick jacket, gloves, a scarf and a hat, on a cruise ship. A pitch-black sky looms overhead, hundreds of stars twinkling high above. As you raise your head to gaze at this beautiful nightly scene, suddenly a faint green glow flashes across the sky. Slowly, it gets stronger and stronger—until the glow changes into a bright curtain of green and purple. Dancing their way across the sky and through the polar night, the northern lights are arguably Mother Nature’s greatest spectacle.
Sensations in the Sky
Also known as the aurora borealis (versus the aurora australis in the Southern Hemisphere), the northern lights have dazzled and fascinated humans for ages, and they continue to do so today. If you’re lucky and catch them at their most active, it’s a downright sensational sight—an experience you will cherish for the rest of your life.
In winter, the northern lights are visible basically everywhere in the most northerly regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Your best chances are north of the Arctic Circle, but they’ve been spotted as far south as, for example, New England and Ireland.
Arctic Norway Is Where You Want to Go
Undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest places to experience the northern lights is Norway. Blessed with the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and the warm air of the Jet Stream, Norway, although it’s Europe’s northernmost country, is surprisingly warm. Even in winter, it doesn’t get exceptionally cold on the Norwegian coasts—that is, compared the all other places located at similar latitudes.
Luckily for you, two winters from now, you’ll be able to chase the northern lights on a Viking Cruise. One of the world’s premier luxury cruise lines, Viking Cruises recently announced that they’ll start offering a brand new cruise.
An Exciting New, Luxury Viking Cruise
The In Search of the Northern Lights cruise will take you deep into the Arctic Circle in the heart of winter. With the word “Viking” in its name, this cruise line is one of the absolute best for Scandinavian cruises. The Chairman of Viking Cruises, Torstein Hagen, claims that “Scandinavia is Viking territory and no other cruise line can show guests this part of the world like we can”. He may be totally right about that.
Traveling north of the Norwegian Arctic Circle in January is almost guaranteed to result in spectacular northern lights displays. It’s the best time of year to see them, in the best possible place to see them.
The Viking Cruises are renowned around the world for their focus on cuisine, local culture and arts, history and music. Offering its guests “the thinking person’s cruise” as opposed to the mind-numbing mainstream cruises, Viking has truly distinguished itself as one of the world’s best cultural luxury cruise lines.
Traveling north of the Norwegian Arctic Circle in January is almost guaranteed to result in spectacular northern lights displays.
In Search of the Northern Lights – Overview
The new cruise will take place on the Viking Sky, a 930-passenger ocean ship. The first sailing is scheduled for January 2019, which will make Viking Cruises the very first American cruise line to offer a full-length winter itinerary in the Arctic Circle. It’s a first that they’re definitely allowed to be proud of.
During this voyage, you’ll get the chance to experience what few other people ever will. That includes snow-dusted fjords, coastal towns filled with colorful houses and covered with snow, dog-sled rides, great Nordic food and fascinating Sami legends. It may be dark in these parts of the world in winter, but things are still very much alive and kicking.
The 13-day In Search of the Northern Lights cruise allows guests to fully immerse themselves in the cultural richness of Scandinavia. On the way, the ship calls at no fewer than seven destinations, at each of which you can join a complimentary excursion. There are overnights in three amazing Norwegian coastal towns.
The cruise begins in London, ending thirteen days later in Bergen. The itinerary looks as follows.
Day 1: Check in to a veranda stateroom and explore the ship
Day 2: Cruise across the North Sea, the very sea the Vikings crossed to establish colonies in Scotland and Normandy. Enjoy an on-board spa session and visit the Snow Grotto.
Day 3: Discover Stavanger in the morning and early afternoon. Stroll across the Old Town, which has the densest concentration of 17th- and 18th-century wooden buildings in Europe. Alternatively, cruise along the Lysefjorden and see iconic Pulpit Rock.
Day 4: Traverse the Norwegian Sea and enjoy all the fantastic amenities on the ship. Join a yoga class or exercise individually, visit the spa (again) or simply relax and enjoy the coastal views as you sail by.
Day 5: Spend the day in beautiful Bodø, situated just north of the Arctic Circle. Highlights include the Gothic Cathedral with its ten gorgeous tapestries, the Customs House and Norwegian Aviation Museum. Consider visiting the Saltstraumen maelstrom as well—it’s one of the world’s strongest tidal currents.
Day 6: Explore Tromsø, the unofficial capital of Northern Norway. Visit the striking Arctic Cathedral and take a ride on a sled pulled by dogs or reindeer. Spend the night in the city.
Day 7: Immerse yourself some more in the Nordic culture by visiting the Tromsø University Museum and/or go for an adventurous glacier treks in the nearby mountains.
Day 8: See the famous ancient rock carvings in Alta, because of its clear skies also one of the world’s premier spots for northern lights watching. The Alta Museum has plenty of information on everything from the northern lights to salmon fishing. Spend the night in town.
Day 9: Explore more of Alta and its surroundings. Head over to Sautso, a massive river-carved canyon that is the largest in Northern Europe or visit the Northern Lights Cathedral. Take your time scouting the skies for the northern lights. This is as far north as this cruise goes.
Day 10: Learn about the fascinating history of Narvik, a former Viking settlement located deep inside the Ofotfjorden. Even though it’s located far beyond the Arctic Circle, the town has an ice-free harbour, which made it an important place from which to export iron ore from the Swedish mountains. Alternatively, go for a sleigh ride through the wilderness or get to know the local Sami people.
Day 11: Make sure to step outside and admire the epic views as you sail south across the Norwegian Sea. Indulge in a Norwegian waffle and learn about the Scandinavian-inspired design and art aboard the ship.
Day 12: Arrive at the final destination of this phenomenal cruise—Bergen. The ship calls at Bryggen, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a stunningly beautiful waterfront. Climb Mount Ulriken for a breathtaking view, visit the Hanseatic Museum and go for a Norwegian dinner in the evening. Spend the last night of this cruise aboard the ship.
Day 13: Discover more of what Bergen has to offer after disembarking from the ship. Consider traveling to Oslo and maybe even see what Iceland looks like in winter for more Scandinavian winter adventures.