Witnessing Mother Nature’s ethereal light show, popularly known as the Northern Lights, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The famous Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei named it “Aurora Borealis” after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and the Greek god of the north wind, Boreas, to represent dancing lights in the sky. Since then, the Northern Lights have influenced the evolution of history, arts, and culture.
If you are wondering whether a Northern Lights cruise is worthwhile, check out these interesting facts about the Aurora Borealis that will win you over!
WHAT IS THE NORTHERN LIGHTS (AURORA BOREALIS)
- A solar storm with heavily charged particles that collide with Earth’s surface creates this spectacular phenomenon comprising a spectrum of bright lights against the dark sky. The colour of the Northern Lights depends on the altitude of the collision and which atom gets struck.
- The Northern Lights are unpredictable. Although it doesn’t have to be cold, there must be long hours of darkness to witness this natural beauty. Some of the best sightings have been in Iceland, Alaska, and Norway within the Arctic Circle.
- You can witness the Aurora Borealis on a full moon night. The moon shines on the spectrum of Northern Lights producing a blueish-black atmosphere.
- Other planets have auroras that operate differently from Earth’s Northern and Southern Lights. Since solar activity influences Earth’s Aurora, it often results in massive power blackouts and interference with satellite signals.
- A popular Northern Lights myth is never to wave, whistle, or sing while witnessing this unique phenomenon to avoid alerting the spirits of the light of your presence that will come down and carry you up into the sky.
- Recent studies by scientists show that the Northern Lights produce “auroral sounds” even if it is not visible.
Although the Aurora Borealis is not disappearing anytime soon, it may become harder to spot due to irregular solar flares. In other words, there is no better time than the present to witness the beauty of the Northern Lights at the best spots around the world.
Ticking off a life-changing experience like chasing the Northern Lights requires careful planning. No doubt, cruising is the best way to stand a better chance of witnessing this phenomenon over a lengthy stay on board a ship.
In this article, we share tips on the places to see and things to do on Northern Lights cruise destinations (because it’s always better to pick the best destination for a memorable experience even if the lights don’t come out to dance!)
Explore Iceland Cruises in Search of Natural Splendours
The best Iceland cruises cover the idyllic city of Akureyri, surrounded by large mountains and low air pollution. Being closer to the Artic circle, Lady Luck may be on your side as this remote location with clear skies promises a unique spectrum of auroras. Other breathtaking natural wonders at Akureyri include the Godafoss Waterfall, the ‘Waterfall of the Gods’.
Reykjavik, the largest city and capital of Iceland, is a top tourist destination known as a haven for natural wonders. Apart from its popularity as one of the best places around the world to witness the Aurora Borealis with fewer clouds and longer hours of darkness, don’t miss the chance to take a dip in the azure waters of the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa famous for rejuvenation and skin healing properties or go whale watching.
Other exciting destinations in Iceland cruises include Grundarfjordur, where you can hike up Mt. Helgafell (Sacred Hill) for a picturesque view of the Grundarfjordur bay, or experience the ancient history of Iceland by walking through the 4,000 year-old lava fields of Berserkergata.
Peace Boat Cruise will not only get you closer to fulfilling your travel bucket list of witnessing the captivating Northern Lights during the 5 days in the Aurora Belt (near 65⁰N latitude), but also enable you and your loved ones to experience heavenly natural wonders, wildlife, and Northern European culture and history.
Journey to the Earth’s Last Frontier on Alaska cruises
Many Alaskan cruises include outdoor excursions to scenic destinations representing the best of Alaska’s rugged landscape with majestic mountain ranges, glaciers, vast wilderness, and the Northern Lights.
The top spot on Alaskan cruises is Fairbanks, the best location in the world for tourists to catch this surreal phenomenon. Located in the geomagnetic North Pole known as Auroral Oval, many successful sightings of the Aurora Borealis have occurred in Fairbanks over the years. There’s even an igloo-like hotel in the area known as the Borealis Basecamp with a wide ceiling for a clear view of the Northern Lights while you snuggle in bed at night gazing at the starry Arctic skies.
Famously known as a gold-mining town, Fairbanks boasts modern amenities and is a great place to go for a dog-sledding winter tour or experience Alaskan culture and heritage with a day trip to historical gold mines during the Great Gold Rush in the 1900s.
Nature lovers would be thrilled to go on a trip to the Denali National Park. With over six million acres of pristine land surrounded by the tallest mountain ranges in North America and vast wilderness, you can spot Alaska’s big five and most unique wildlife in the world – grizzly bears, caribou, moose, Dall sheep, and wolves. You can also go river rafting in this pristine area 20,310 feet above sea level.
Anchorage, located in the southern area of Alaska, is another popular spot on Alaskan cruises to witness the Aurora Borealis. Head over to higher peaks like Glen Alps, Point Woronzof, and the Knit River Valley and face the north to capture a picturesque view of the Northern Lights. At the very least, you will come across scenic glaciers and diverse wildlife, such as the large population of moose on a hiking or biking trip around Anchorage. With so much to see at the eastern tip of the United States, an Alaskan cruise experience with Princess Cruises is a one-of-a-kind adventure you wouldn’t want to miss!
Experience the Land of the Midnight Sun On Norwegian Cruises
Known for its diverse natural phenomena like polar nights and the midnight sun, Norway forms the perfect backdrop for capturing the Aurora Borealis with long hours of darkness in the northern region. Tromsø is a famous city to spot the Northern Lights as the “Capital of the Arctic.” Other exciting activities to do in this city include learning the history of Arctic hunting and a cable car ride to the top of Mt. Storsteinen for a spectacular view of the city.
Other famous destinations on Norway cruises include Bergen and Stavanger. Stroll along the Bryggen Wharf in Bergen, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its wooden buildings from the Hanseatic empire, and popular spot for fjord cruises from Bryggen right up to the coastline of Kirkenes close to the Russian border.
At Stavanger, get a virtual reality lesson on Viking culture at the Viking House in the city center. As the sardine town of Norway, Stavanger will excite your taste buds as you devour fresh and delicious smoked sardines. Otherwise, tour the Utstein Abbey, Norway’s only remaining medieval monastery once home to Augustinian monks.
Another major port city on Norway cruises is Hardangerfjord, where you will be blown away by majestic waterfalls, the third largest fjord in the world, and taste some of the most exclusive ciders in the world.
Chasing the Northern Lights by cruising through Iceland, Alaska, and Norway on Peace Boat or Norweigan Cruise Line is more than just the scenic route to get a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis and visit some of the world’s best destinations in Northern Europe. Booking a cruise makes planning and traveling easier and convenient to experience diverse natural wonders, rich culture and heritage, inspire your nature photography skills, and enjoy the grandeur and comforts of a ship voyage from dining to shopping and entertainment under one roof.
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