Viking Cruises’ new programme of northern lights sailings promises a luxurious way to explore the Arctic region. Sara Macefield hops onboard one and finds it delivers far more than aurora sightings.
This winter has seen Viking Cruises bring its innate sense of Norwegian style to the Arctic with a debut programme of northern lights sailings, heralding a more luxurious take on what this remote region has to offer.
I’m keen to see how it caters for premium passengers looking for soft adventure, so join the first sailing in January that departs Tilbury for Norway, following the coast as far north as Alta, where our ship, Viking Sky, moors overnight.
It is the second overnight stay, the first being at our previous stop, Tromso – but these long port calls prove to be an ideal way to get under the icy skin of this region, thanks to an impressive range of tours that open the door to a wintry world of adventures.
Guests can speed off on snowmobile safaris to an ice hotel or explore the Norwegian tundra by husky sled. Nordic skiing, reindeer-sledding and a visit to a Sami camp are some of the other unforgettable thrills, though with prices between $300 and nearly $600 you need deep pockets. However, tamer alternatives include concerts and museum visits, which are less than $100.
But Norway is not cheap, and that’s where Viking’s extra touches come into their own. The free excursion in each port, generally a coach tour, proves to be an ideal way for passengers to get their bearings.
“We offer more time in port than many other cruise lines so guests can make the most of any free time as well as joining organised shore excursions,” confirms Viking’s UK head of sales Neil Barclay.
“Our excursions in destinations such as Alta are quite unique, especially overnight stays, which offer unforgettable immersive experiences where guests can try snowshoeing and ice-fishing and then stay overnight in the Igloo Hotel, made entirely of ice and snow.”
He adds: “Alternatively, they can experience the life of a dog musher, enjoying a traditional Norwegian meal with huskies and spending the night in a wooden, stove-heated tepee with floor-to-ceiling windows so they can keep a lookout for the northern lights.”