Hurtigruten is offering a new addition to its winter sailing lineup, the Astronomy Voyage. These 12-day sailings along the Norwegian coast allow guests to join the Aurora Borealis watching sessions on the ship’s deck at night for possible views of the Northern Lights display, as well as visit the Northern Lights Planetarium in Tromsø to learn more about this phenomenon. Guest lecturers will also be on board to educate guests about the science and history behind the Northern Lights. Sailings in 2014 depart from Bergen on Sept. 25, Oct. 20 and Nov. 20, with fares starting at $2,579 per person, double. 2015 sailings, currently offered at early-booking rates starting at $2,584, depart on Jan. 7, Feb. 6 and 9, Oct. 6 and 9, Nov. 9 and Dec. 4. An additional 5 percent early booking incentive, good until Sept. 30, can be added to the current 25 percent discount for all 2015 voyages.
The Astronomy Voyages runs round trip between the UNESCO-listed harbor city of Bergen to the Arctic city of Kirkenes and back to Bergen. During the voyage, guests will have the opportunity to visit the Art Nouveau city of Ålesund; the city of Trondheim; the Lofoten Islands; Tromsø, the capital of Arctic Norway; Hammerfest, the world’s northernmost town; and Kirkenes, located a few miles from the Russian border.
In addition to a litany of optional excursions, all guests will visit the Science Center of Northern Norway’s Northern Lights Planetarium. Norway’s largest planetarium, it features the world’s first all-dome, 360-degree theater showing screenings of “Experience the Aurora,” a planetarium movie about the Northern Lights. The film includes footage taken over seven months of winter sky watching, hundreds of thousands photographs and hundreds of hours under the spell of the Aurora.
Guests will learn more about the science behind the Aurora Borealis through a series of onboard lectures conducted by astronomy scholars and Dr. John Mason and Ian Ridpath. Four to five lectures per sailing allow guests to learn about this phenomenon as well as to share their enthusiasm for astronomy with fellow travelers. Dr. Mason and Mr. Ridpath will also be on deck in the evening to point out the wonders of the night sky, give photographic tips about how best to capture the light show and answer questions. Guests can sign up to be awoken during the night should the crew spot the lights.
Optional land excursions include a visit to Atlanterhavsparken, one of Northern Europe’s largest salt-water aquariums; a polar history walk including a tour of the Polar Museum; a trek to the North Cape, the northernmost point on the continent; a Viking feast complete with homemade mead; and the chance to go reindeer sledging, the traditional Sámi way of transport through the Arctic landscape.
Hurtigruten sails to the most remote of destinations – including Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic’s Spitsbergen – as well as year round along Norway's coast and Europe in the spring and fall. The company’s fleet of intimate ships, which each carry 100 to 646 guests, allows travelers to enjoy the scenery and culture of the destination in a relaxed atmosphere.
For more information, visit www.hurtigruten.us.