The breathtaking light show of aurora borealis has inspired myths and legends for thousands of years. There's no better way to experience this natural phenomenon than with a dedicated Northern Lights cruise.
Best Places to see the Northern Lights
By far the best displays of the Northern Lights are above the Arctic Circle in Arctic Norway, Iceland, Canada and Alaska. The golden rule is - the further north you travel, the more likely you are to see the fantastic light show.
The city of Tromsø in Arctic Norway is a popular start and end point for Arctic Norway cruises. Icelandic cruises often depart from Reykjavik - Iceland's capital is ideally located for admiring the Northern Lights, but the surrounding rural areas offer better Northern Lights viewing because of the absence of urban glow. In addition, northwest Canada and Alaska are large cruise regions that are also well known for Aurora Borealis viewing.
When To Go
Between September and March is the best time to see the Northern Lights, but many locals swear that November to March offers the most favourable weather conditions. A dark, dry, cloudless night with no moon is the ideal forecast to see a awesome display. Check the lunar cycle around the dates you want to book your cruise and try to avoid booking your Northern Lights experience when there's a full moon.
During the winter, it's dark from around 6pm to 1am in countries above the Arctic Circle and this is the time the Northern Lights are visible, though you may have to be patient some nights. December 21, the winter solstice, is the longest night of the year and therefore has the most time to see the Northern Lights.
Who Goes There?
Northern Lights cruises come in two kinds – large cruise liners that offer scenic cruising and smaller expedition cruise ships that take passengers into remote regions, usually disembarking via Zodiac inflatable.
The Northern Lights cruise regions are on the itineraries of many major cruise lines, including Norwegian Cruise Line, Cunard, Azamara, Celebrity, Fred Olsen, Holland America and Royal Caribbean. Small ship and adventure cruisers should look to speciality cruise providers such as Hurtigruten, Orion Expedition Cruises, Voyages of Discovery, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and more.