2012 began with NASA predicting that it was to be the best year for seeing the Northern Lights (or Aurora Borealis as they’re also known). Now that the end of the year is fast approaching, you might feel you’ve missed your chance to witness nature’s finest light show but this isn’t necessarily the case – especially if you’re already thinking about enjoying a cruise holiday in 2013.
Here’s our guide to choosing a Northern Lights’ cruise in 2013…
Where to go to see the Northern Lights?
Where cruise holidays and the Northern Lights are concerned, Norway is by far and away the most popular choice of destination. Not only is it renowned for its natural beauty, , and picturesque towns and cities, but it’s also where the Lights are at their most prominent. In addition to these charms, you’ll also be happy to know that there’s a huge variety of itineraries to choose from, so whether you’re looking for a small-ship adventure or the ultimate in luxury, you’re bound to be able to find something that suits your tastes.
Other regions that are said to be good for seeing the Northern Lights include Alaska and the northern climes of Russia. However, these are slightly more difficult to see on a cruise as their brightest period is during January. Alaska cruises generally only run between May and September, whilst cruises to Russia rarely venture to the Murmansk region, where the Lights are their most visible.
For an option closer to home, the Lights can also be seen from some of Scotland’s most Northern outposts – check out the itineraries offered by Hebridean here and pay particular attention to those that stop in Orkney as this is the best location for seeing the Northern Lights in Scotland.
When to go?
The best time for a Northern Lights in 2013 in Norway is between late Autumn and early Spring, as this is when the nights are at their clearest and the Lights are at their brightest.
Who to cruise with?
If you’re looking to visit Norway to see the Lights, then a voyage with Hurtigruten is the connoisseurs’ choice. For 120 years, the flagship Norwegian operator has offered guests the chance to explore the country’s rugged coastline on a variety of different cruise adventures. It’s not 5-star luxury but it is wholly authentic, with each voyage carefully planned to ensure you get to see the very best of the region– including the Northern Lights.
Other lines that visit Norway include and Cruise & Maritime and Fred Olsen, with both appealing to many as they offer sailings to the region that depart from the UK – meaning there’s no need to worry about having book flights or spend too much time in airports.
How long to go for?
Itineraries with Hurtigruten range from anything between 5 and 12 night durations; so there is a lot of choice and flexibility. A word of caution though, a shorter cruise is going to mean less time in the region and in the event that you experience a few cloudy nights, it’s going to be touch and go whether or not you actually get to see what you went there for in the first place. We’d recommend a longer sailing as this will give any bad weather the chance to clear.
Things to remember:
- As is the case with many natural phenomenons, sightings of the Northern Lights on a cruise cannot be guaranteed and certain elements are going to need to be in place to shift the odds in your favour. We might be able to design you the ultimate Norwegian cruise holiday but unfortunately we can’t guarantee the weather!
- If you’re going in search of the Northern Lights, then you’re going to be heading north so be prepared for things to get a lot colder with some ports reaching temperatures as low as -6 in the Autumn months. Hats and scarves are definitely needed!
- Obviously seeing the Lights is going to be top of your agenda, but don’t neglect the other fascinating highlights Norway has to offer. From dog-sledding just outside the Arctic Circle to enjoying a walk around the Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø, it really is a destination ripe for exploration.
Our recommended Northern Lights cruises departing in 2013:
14th February 2013: Cruise & Maritime – Land of the Northern Lights on Marco Polo – fares from just £1218pp View itinerary
13th March 2013: Fred Olsen – Northern Lights on Boudicca – fares from just £1699pp View itinerary
20th March 2013: Hurtigruten – Classic Round Voyage on MS Lofoten – CALL FOR BEST FARES View itinerary