An aurora, also commonly known as the northern lights (in the northern hemisphere) or southern lights in the southern hemisphere), is a natural light display in Earth’s sky, predominantly seen in high-latitude regions. The result of disturbances in the magnetosphere caused by the solar wind, auroras display dynamic patterns of brilliant lights that appear as curtains, rays, spirals, or dynamic flickers covering the entire sky. (thanks, Wikipedia!)
Whether you’re trying to see the northern or southern lights, the best time to get a chance to see them is in the winter months of whichever hemisphere you’re in, and as far to the north/south (corresponding with which hemisphere you’re in) as you can go.
In the northern hemisphere, your best chance of seeing the northern lights is in Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, the northern parts of Canada and Alaska (although I have a friend who occasionally posts pictures of the northern lights that she’s taken from her living room. She’s in Minnesota).
Not surprisingly, a lot of the places where the northern lights tend to make a showing on a regular basis have frequent tourists during the time of year when the lights might be seen. I remember when Joe and I were in Iceland (in July), one of the B&Bs we stayed in had a winter program where you could sign up to be woken up if you could see the nights on any given night during your stay.
It’s not just hotels that get into the act, though. Cruise ships do, too. In fact, there are two cruise operators, Havila Voyages and Hurtigruten Expeditions (soon to be renamed HX), that are so sure their passengers will see the lights from their respective cruises from Norway that they’ll give them a free cruise if they don’t.
Both lines offer what they call a Northern Lights Promise. It offers passengers a second voyage if the aurora borealis doesn’t show up during their cruise.
“If spectacular green light does not dance across the night sky during your Round Voyage in the period (October 1 through March 31), you get a new 6 or 7-day voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes (Voyage North) or vice versa (Voyage South) completely free of charge.
“The Northern Lights Promise applies to all passengers who have booked the Round Voyage Bergen-Kirkenes-Bergen, departing between October 1 and March 31.
“The Northern Lights Promise is only valid if you have activated the Northern Lights warning system on board. The ship determines whether a Northern Lights event has occurred, regardless of weather conditions and actual visibility.
“If the Northern Lights do not occur during your voyage, you will be given a new 6 or 7-day trip completely free of charge, either Voyage North or Voyage South, for the next season’s Northern Lights Promise period (October 1 – March 31).
“The Northern Lights Promise must be redeemed – and a new trip ordered – within one month of returning from your original trip. Cabin category (inside cabin) can be upgraded at an additional cost based on availability. The offer is only granted in the form of one free trip as described above and has no cash value.”
“Enjoy a Classic Voyage free of charge if the Northern Lights do not appear on your cruise to Norway.
Tick the Northern Lights off your bucket list.
- Our promise to you is if there is no recorded sighting of Northern Lights during your expedition, we will give you a free 6 or 7 day Classic Voyage the year after.
- With short days, long winter nights, and reduced light pollution you’ll experience the best conditions to witness the awe-inspiring Northern Lights from the deck of your expedition ship.
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