The Northern Lights are a natural spectacle that everyone wants to see, but they can prove elusive, as Joanne Lumley discovered when she set out to make a TV documentary about them.
Hurtigruten – operators of the cruise-cum-ferry service that operates a scheduled service up and down the Norwegian coast – are now so confident that their ships offer the best chance of observing the lights that they are offering a free cruise to anyone who does not see them.
How does it work? All you need to do is book an 11-night Classic Round Voyage before 30 November 2014, for departure between 1 October 2014 and 31 March 2015. The ships’ crews will be scouring the night skies for an appearance of the dancing light show and if they come out to play, an announcement will be made from the bridge.
If the lights do not make an appearance, Hurtigruten will give passengers a choice of a 7day Classic Voyage North, or 6-day Classic Voyage South in an inside twin cabin (full board basis), departing between 1 October 2015 and 31 March 2016. Flights are not included.
Dr John Mason MBE, aurora-hunter and principal lecturer at the South Downs Planetarium in Chichester, explained: “For the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights, you need to stay in the auroral zone or be near to it. This is a narrow ring, roughly around the Arctic Circle, that passes right over northern Norway. Hurtigruten's voyages spend seven days within or close to the auroral zone - no one else offers that. I have been incredibly fortunate that even when the weather forecast has been rather poor, I have never failed to experience the magical Northern Lights on a Hurtigruten voyage."
Hurtigruten’s Philip Price said: “It has been a truly spectacular couple of years for sightings of the Northern Lights in Northern Norway. We cannot guarantee that you will see the lights during your voyage, but we can do the next best thing which is to promise that if the lights prove elusive, we will give you another opportunity to see them next year.”
The 12 day Classic Round Voyage hugs the Norwegian coastline from Bergen up to Kirkenes, where it turns around and starts its journey south. Fares start from £999 per person in an inside cabin, on full board (based on two sharing), departing on a wide choice of dates in November and December 2014. Flight and transfer packages start from £330 per person.