The Best 6 Northern Lights Cruises to Book Now - Cruise International

The best 6 Northern Lights cruises to book now for 2022 & 2023

By Claire Benktander | 22 Dec 2021

Seeing the Northern Lights is on every discerning traveller’s bucket-list – something Scottish comedian and Strictly Come Dancing star Susan Calman discovered when she joined MS Maud for a magical Northern Lights cruise, aired yesterday on Channel 5 as part of a Christmas special. To inspire, we’ve selected six of the best Northern Lights cruises to book now for 2022 and 2023.

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Credit: Havila Voyages

6 of The Top Northern Lights Cruises

The famed Northern Lights, the spectacular natural phenomenon that occurs in the Northern Hemisphere from as early as August all the way through April, is one of the most incredible bucket-list experiences in travel. What’s more, the aurora is much brighter at sea with less light pollution and open, clear, skies, meaning a cruise is your best chance of witnessing them.

Scottish comedian and star of Strictly Come Dancing Susan Calman joined MSC cruises onboard MS Maud for a winter cruise from Dover to Norway last year, aired as a two-part Christmas special on Channel 5. If you’ve been inspired by Susan’s breathtaking journey, check out this list of six of the top Northern Lights cruises to book now for 2022 and 2023.

Classic Voyage North with Hurtigruten

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Hurtigruten’s Voyage North

Along the coast of Norway, the Northern Lights can make appearances as early as September and as late as May. Hurtigruten sails under areas of consistent auroral activity all year. Hurtigruten offer a variety of voyages, including an epic 13-day trip among Norway’s fjords, mountains and islands as you travel from Bergen to Kirkenes.

You’ll cross the Arctic Circle to hunt the Northern Lights in winter, with included land and sea excursions and expert lectures on board. Plus, their Northern Lights promise mean that if the aurora don’t appear on your cruise, they’ll give you a six or seven-day voyage completely free of charge.

Regular departures from Bergen between December and April. Find out more with Hurtigruten

Round Voyage with Havila

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Havila ship in Lofoten, Norway

Among Havila’s many Norwegian cruises on offer, their round voyage that starts and ends Bergen is one of the best ways to get a full round-up of the country and its celestial delights, with a stay in an ultra-modern new cabin.

Visiting such famed destinations as Lofoten, Geirangerfjorden – one of Norway’s most beautiful fjords – and the Arctic Circle, you’ll see glaciers, meet indigenous Sami people, go king crab fishing, husky sledding and much more – all while keeping your eyes above to watch for the dazzling Northern Lights which are almost guaranteed to make a frequent appearance throughout your cruise.

Monthly departures from Bergen between December and April. Find out more with Havila Voyages

No-fly Norway Cruise with P&O Cruises

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Northern Lights, Norway

From mountain scenery and the Arctic beauty of Tromso to the dramatic landscapes of Stavanger, P&O Cruises‘ Northern Lights cruise options go one further with their no-fly option, that starts and ends in Southampton.

You’ll sail past natural wonders and beautiful medieval towns as well as spotting reindeer and huskies while you step out to hopefully view the Northern Lights, with a base in a cosy cabin and enjoying delicious regional meals.

Monthly departures from Southampton. Find out more with P&O Cruises

New York to Norway Round Voyage with Cunard

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Cunard ship departing New York

If departing from the USA (why not add on a four-day city break before or after your cruise?), our top pick is Cunard‘s epic 26-day voyage that starts and ends in New York.

You’ll call in at the Arctic beauty of Stavanger and Trondheim as well as enjoying two nights in Tromso, known as the Northern Lights Capital of the World, exploring its buzzing nightlife scene, distilleries and, of course, those illustrious lights. That’s all alongside Cunard’s signature fine gastronomy, plenty of evening entertainment and included flights.

Departs in October 2022 from New York. Find out more with Cunard

Iceland, Norway & the Faroe Islands with Hurtigruten

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Whales in Iceland

Norway isn’t the only spot to see the Northern Lights – all of northern Scandinavia enjoy the lightshow in the autumn and winter months. Hurtigruten offer a spectacular showcase of Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Norway on their autumn cruise, starting in Longyearbyen – keeping an eye out for polar bears – before exploring Iceland’s ‘Whale Capital’ and its world-class bird watching opportunities.

It all ends in Bergen, where you can explore the UNESCO-listed Bryggen district – and journeying in late autumn means there’s a good chance that the Northern Lights will appear. Enjoy included flights, a range of included activities and expert onboard lectures from the Expedition Team.

Regular departures from Longyearbyen. Find out more with Hurtigruten

Under the Glow of the Northern Lights with Saga

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The Northern Lights in Alta, Norway. Credit: iStock

Cruise to Norway with Saga when the night sky hosts a mesmerising display of lights and enjoy an extended stay in Alta, where this natural phenomena can often be seen at its best.

You’ll also visit Bergen, with its UNESCO-listed Bryggen, Tromsø, Honningsvåg, Narvik and Kristiansund on board Saga’s boutique, luxury ship Spirit of Adventure, and enjoy talks from Musical Director, pianist and composer, Dr Simon Fricker, performances from the Syd Lawrence Orchestra and talks from explorer and adventurer, Sue Stockdale.

Departs February 2022 and 2023 from Southampton. Find out more with Saga

When is the best time to see the Northern Lights on a cruise?

The Northern Lights (aurora borealis) are one of the most spectacular natural phenomena in the world – and the advantage of viewing them on a cruise is the sky is unpolluted, so you get the full spectrum of colours.

Take a cruise up to the top of Norway, near the Russian border at Kirkenes, and you’re pretty much guaranteed sightings at the right time of year – though they are visible around most of the north in Scandinavia and the Nordics – which tends to be between November and April, when the sky is dark and clear and the mountains are covered in snow. However, they do appear from as early as August in some places.

What should I pack on a Northern Lights cruise?

According to Hurtigruten, here’s a list of essential items to pack on your Northern Lights voyage:

  • Binoculars
  • Camera and memory card
  • Comfortable everyday shoes
  • Wool sweater or fleece
  • Sun protection
  • Sunglasses
  • Swimwear
  • Wind and waterproof jacket and trousers
  • Mid layer jacket
  • Woollen underwear
  • Winter boots with good grip
  • Thick winter jacket
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Wool socks
  • Scarf

Catch up on both episodes of Christmas Cruising with Susan Calman now on my5.

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