The northern lights are a popular but elusive natural phenomenon that appear on many a traveler’s bucket list. If they are on your list, and you’ve been hesitant to book a northern lights tour because you might come up empty, here’s a chance to hedge your bets.
Hurtigruten is making a “Northern Lights Promise” on expeditions along the scenic Norwegian Coast during the auroral season (September 26–March 31).
The Hurtigruten Promise
The promise extends to sailings on select Hurtigruten Norway itineraries lasting 11 days or longer. Per Hurtigruten, if the northern lights don’t appear within sight of the ship during your voyage, you’ll get a free 6-day southbound or 7-day northbound cruise between Kirkenes and Bergen.
What Cruises Qualify?
Covered winter cruises include the 11-day Voyage of Discovery and the 12-day Roundtrip Voyage. Both visit 34 ports twice (out and back) and sail past more than 100 remarkable fjords and 1,000 mountains. The promise also covers two other expeditions: the new North Cape Express, exploring Norway’s coastline northward from Oslo and back down to Bergen; and the Northern Lights Expedition cruise from London.
Where And When Are The Northern Lights Most Visible?
Per Hurtigruten, “the Aurora Borealis is most commonly seen in the Polar Regions, within a radius of 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) around the magnetic poles. This area is known as the Auroral Zone or the Auroral Oval.
“For the Northern Lights, the further north you travel, the more likely you will catch a glimpse of the aurora. Above the Arctic Circle (66°33’N) is the best place to go aurora hunting which is why northern Norway and Svalbard are some of the best places on Earth to see the Northern Lights.”
Two Keys To Seeing The Northern Lights
First, it must be dark and cloud-free. Second, you must be under or close to one of the auroral ovals. As you sail toward the Arctic Circle, your chances of seeing the northern lights improve.
It’s not dark long enough to see the northern lights during the summer. The best chance is around the equinoxes in March and September, when the aurora is most active. The lights appear between 5 p.m. and 2 a.m.
The Fine Print
The northern lights guarantee is subject to terms and conditions. Here’s one: Deck officers determine whether or not there has been an “occurrence.” Then, they announce the aurora’s appearance to passengers so they can view the lights. Here’s another condition: The free cruise will be in the next sailing season. It allows for an inside cabin, but you can upgrade for a fee.
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