Northern Lights

Everyone was talking about the Northern Lights recently, as the biggest solar storms in four years led to more charged particles than usual entering the atmosphere, causing the iconic patterns of dancing light at latitudes even as far south as Britain.

If you missed them, you might want to know that taking an Arctic cruise is a great way to explore Nordic destinations while also giving you a good chance of seeing these elusive lights – something many people dream of seeing within their lifetime.

Hurtigruten has special cruises that will take you way up into the Arctic Circle in search of the Northern Lights. You’ll be far away from artificial light sources, where the displays are most impressive, and you can even request a wake-up call if there’s a sighting in the middle of the night.

The British Geological Survey has predicted that 2012 will be a particularly good year for solar activity, and after the surge of interest in the Aurora Borealis – with “Northern Lights” even trending on Twitter – bookings with Hurtigruten have seen a significant rise.

Fred. Olsen usually cruises Norway’s fjords in the summer months to make the most of the good weather and long daylight hours, but for the first time in February 2012 it too will be offering a winter cruise, titled In Search of the Northern Lights. This will sail from Southampton, taking in the picturesque towns of Bergen and Trondheim, then staying overnight in Tromso.

Alta’s prehistoric rock carvings, Alesund’s Art Nouveau architecture and the port town of Stavanger are the remaining highlights of the trip – and with a two-week cruise, there’s a good chance the other-worldly, glowing electromagnetic phenomena of the Northern Lights will make an appearance as well!

A five-day Arctic Highlights voyage with Hurtigruten departing on selected dates between 25 January and 3 March 2012 travels from Tromso to Kirkenes and back with the chance to add excursions such as a visit to North Cape, snowmobiling or dog sledging. Prices start from £875 pp including return flights from Gatwick, three night’s half board on the ship and one night’s B&B in Tromso. No single supplements apply.

Fred. Olsen‘s 13-night cruise In Search of the Northern Lights has limited availability, with prices starting from £1,993 pp, based on two adults sharing a twin outside cabin, Grade E. Prices include accommodation, all meals and entertainment, and port taxes.