Final Frontiers: The best way to take in the Northern Lights

Fjords carve the countryside, glaciers shimmer like jewels atop snowy mountains, the Northern Lights transform the sky into an otherworldly swirl of colour – it’s fair to say Norway knows how to dazzle on the nature front. The best way to take in this drama, with a good measure of culture and cuisine, is on an intimate Hurtigruten ship, cruising to far-flung communities and wilderness frontiers. Born in this small Scandinavian country in 1893, Hurtigruten’s voyages are as inspiring as they are insightful, all the while focusing on the sustainability of travel to this pristine pocket of the world.

Journeys of the heart

Based in Norway for more than 125 years, Hurtigruten is the world’s largest expedition cruise company – needless to say, it has its finger on the travel pulse when it comes to exploring the country (and the planet’s most far-flung reaches) in comfort. The brand’s portfolio of Norwegian itineraries ranges from expedition voyages to coastal cruises, designed to take in colourful ports, small and large.

The spectacular natural drama of Norway's fjords
The spectacular natural drama of Norway’s fjords

Style and sustainability

Exploring some of the planet’s most remote and pristine wilderness areas comes with the responsibility to protect them and ensure their sustainability for future generations. Which is why Hurtigruten is dedicated to intimate, immersive experiences on ships that are small – and highly advanced. The company now has the world’s only hybrid-electric powered expedition ships, designed specifically for traversing this part of the world, with the fleet of these environmentally sensitive offerings set to grow. Each is dedicated to small groups, and planned with destinations in mind – each is also completely free of single-use plastics, much like the hotels Hurtigruten guests check in to on land.

Taking in Norway's Dramatic scenery
Taking in Norway’s dramatic scenery © Orjan Bertelsen

5 animals to look out for in Norway

  • Sea Eagles: These majestic creatures have a wingspan of 2.5 metres.
  • King Crab: These babies can weigh up to 10 kilograms and measure two metres across.
  • Whales: Humpbacks, minke and fin whales are all spotted along the coastline.
  • Puffins: Look to the country’s cliffs to see these adorable birds.
  • Reindeer: Norway has 25,000 wild and 200,000 domesticated reindeer.
Reindeers roam wild across the country
Reindeer roam wild across the country © Oscar Farrera

Local experts

The best way of ensuring the destinations visited remain as they are is by educating and engaging guests on every journey, with the goal of creating global environmental ambassadors. That’s where Hurtigruten’s Expedition Team comes in, this collection of minds covering everything from marine biology and arctic survival to oceanography, photography and ornithology.

Colourful coastal villages
Colourful coastal villages © Reine Condor Sheridan/Unsplash

Culture and communities

On a Hurtigruten cruise you’ll experience Norwegian culture in every port. But in the north of the country you’ll have the chance to meet members of the Indigenous Sami community. Visit dwellings and cultural centres, and glimpse their life on the land, herding reindeers.

Sami tribe members
Sami tribe members © Norbert Reijngoud

Food in focus

Dining is like a snapshot of Norway. Menus on Hurtigruten’s ships change depending on what chefs pick up in port, but might include king crab hauled aboard from the Barents Sea, cheese and cod from Lofoten, reindeer from Finnmark, Arctic char from Sigerfjord and apples from Hardanger.

Norways dramatic coastline
Norway’s dramatic coastline © Wayne Brown

Northern Lights Promise

If you’re keen to see the Aurora Borealis, you’ll be happy to hear Hurtigruten guarantees that if you don’t glimpse the phenomenon on your journey during the Northern Lights season, it will offer a six- or seven-day classic voyage free of charge.

Click here to read about Hurtigruten’s new Scandinavian package land-and-cruise tours, ‘Follow the Lights’, ‘Norway Expeditions’ and ‘Norway in a Nutshell’.

This article was first published in the Vacations & Travel 21 Inspiring Journeys For 2021 ebook. Download your copy here.

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