Steve’s Sojourns: The Northern Lights
The first time you see the Northern Lights, or to be strictly accurate the aurora borealis, is a moment that will stay with you for the rest of your life. In my case it was a snow covered cold November night leaning over the rail at the stern in Tromso clutching my hot soup which the ship had so thoughtfully provided.
As we gazed up into the sky hoping that something going to happen it dawned on us that gradually a white mist looking for all the world like an elongated tube began to appear which slowly but surely turned into a dazzling green. Then rippling in waves like a wheat field in the wind it started dancing across the sky with flashes of reds and yellows appearing for brief moments.
Most cruises specifically labelled as “North Lights” trips go to Norway where Alta and Tromso are particularly good places to see them. However, you should not rule out Iceland, Greenland, The Faroe Islands and Alaska. The problem is that there are not that many ships that go on these cruises as its far more profitable for their owners to place them in the Caribbean or somewhere else for the winter sun market.
Remember too you are not restricted these days to seeing the lights from the ship. Some companies now provide husky sled rides or snowmobile trips deep into the Arctic wilderness where you can see the lights free of the noise of traffic and light pollution as nature intended you to.
Don’t panic if you choose snowmobiling, you’ll be given driving lessons and a safety briefing before following a lead vehicle through the wilderness to your viewing point. You can even camp outdoors with some companies and watch lights dancing above whilst the campfire burns slowly down.
It would be impossible to discuss the Northern lights without mentioning Hurtigruten. With 11 ships that operate on the coastal voyage and 3 expedition ships they certainly offer the most chances to see the Lights.
In addition, Hurtigruten are so confident the Northern Lights will make an appearance during their voyages that they offer another 6 or 7-day Classic Voyage with half board free of charge if they fail to appear. You’ll find this on their site under their Northern Lights Promise offer.
They also offer the Astronomy Voyage and an Arctic Highlights cruise. Hurtigruten claim the Astronomy voyage is the only way in the world you can sail through the Aurora Borealis zone for six days and six nights!
Steve Newman was a guest of Hurtigruten.
For more information: www.hurtigruten.co.uk