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In search of the Northern Lights with Hurtigruten

Northern Lights
Northern Lights

Hurtigruten’s Northern Lights Voyage includes an expert astronomer, whale watching and a lights sighting promise. Debbie Ward embarks on a search for the Aurora Borealis.

The announcement over Trollfjord’s tannoy comes first in Norwegian.


I see a woman freeze in the corridor for a second, then turn and run full pelt towards the deck. I’m after her even before the translation and I’m grinning with anticipation. It’s not an emergency; it’s the Northern Lights.


However I’d imagined my first experience of the Aurora Borealis, it didn’t involve it hovering over a branch of H&M. Despite the light pollution, this is where we watch it build to a fan-like display, as we glide past a town on Norway’s coast.


In a darker corner of the sky a curtain of light ripples, then comes the cherry on top – a series of shooting stars.


We cluster on the deck to watch the lights, stomping our feet, or reclining in deckchairs as if nocturnal sunbathing.


We sigh, we squeal, some of us get a little teary. “I haven’t seen them that good since I was this high,” says a Scottish man indicating a point on his thigh.


Hurtigruten offers a “promise” on its Northern Lights Voyage; if you fail to see the Aurora you get another cruise for free. An astronomer stays up all night and announces any interesting activity via a tannoy channel you can opt into in your cabin.


Most importantly, the ship spends 6 of its 12 nights under the auroral ring around the pole. Last winter was the voyage’s 10th season and it has a 100% success rate.


It’s on only the second night, still far from prime latitude, that we’ve bagged our first sighting.


“How was it for you?” is the question over breakfast the next morning as we scroll through photos and compare notes on bed times.


Our youngest astronomy group member is a backpacker in her early twenties; our eldest is 87. Most of us are after a bucket list tick but there are several repeaters.


A Dutch woman on her sixth such voyage was hooked after a snapping a shape in the aurora that looked like the bat symbol over Gotham City.


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