Aurora Awe with Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express
Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express promises a taste of the heavens with its best-selling follow the lights escorted small group tour.
Picture it – you departed from Oslo a week ago. In the sure hands of your experienced escorts, you’ve thus far spent a full day absorbing the culture and class of the Norwegian capital, passed in the shadows of mountains on the famed Flam railway and explored Gothic palaces. Via coast and fjord, you’ve circumnavigated historic cities and rustic hamlets. But the best lies ahead. Anticipation builds.
Suddenly, not long after crossing into the Arctic Circle, there they are: coruscating, multi coloured curtains shimmering, suspended in the darkening sky of a crisp Nordic night. The Northern Lights dance above you, and now you’ve seen them with your own eyes you know that no photo will ever do them justice.
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THE SOUL OF NORWAY
The spectacle of the Aurora Borealis marks a fitting half-way mark of Hurtigruten’s epic ‘Follow the Lights’ experience, but is not the endpoint. Far from it – its immersive 17-day itinerary sees you visiting the Arctic exploration capital of Tromsø, the iconic Arctic Cathedral visible across the waters where you’ve docked; the ‘home’ of Santa Claus in the heart of Lapland; sled-rides through the wilderness drawn by huskies, and more.
After all, life is at its richest when one is in the midst of a grand adventure. And since 1893, few have done adventure better than Hurtigruten. Founded by shipping pioneer Captain Richard With as a service delivering vital communications to the dispersed communities of the Norwegian coast and transporting their fishing hauls, across its 130-year existence Hurtigruten (meaning, ‘the fast way’) has become an ineffable part of the country’s culture.
Indeed, travelling with Hurtigruten is perhaps the best way to experience not just the sights, but also the soul of Norway and its neighbours, an invitation to intimately engage with the warm and welcoming people of these northern coastal communities. Take the village of Voss, via the waterfall-fringed Nærøydalen Valley. Or the fish markets of Bergen’s Bryggen district with its cobblestone streets, where locals cook freshly caught seafood for visitors.
Across the border in Finland, 11 days into your journey, you’ll encounter the rich Sámi culture of the village of Inari, home to the Siida Sámi Museum, and learn the art of Lappish lasso, with a hot coffee following a reindeer sleigh ride. Such immersion, welcomed into the very lives and livelihoods of your gracious hosts, is yet another element that grants Hurtigruten a unique and beloved place in the hearts of experienced cruisers and travellers.
COMFORT WITHOUT COMPROMISE
Despite the ruggedness of some of the environments you’ll be exploring as you ‘Follow the Lights’, your trip will be one of comfort and class throughout, regardless if you depart northbound, or southbound from Helsinki to Oslo – the option is yours. With ten nights of four-star hotel and six nights’ cruise accommodation, daily breakfast and dinners, guided tours of Oslo and Bergen and more, you’ll not lack for amenities on your travels with Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express.
No matter the vessel – whether it’s the MS Nordlys, with interiors inspired by the Northern Lights, the MS Nordnorge, or the MS Richard With, named for Hurtigruten’s celebrated founder – you’ll enjoy lectures from the Coastal Experience team, all-day dining options, sauna and fitness rooms, a stylish bar and, of course, Wi-Fi throughout your cruise. Large outdoor sundecks and observation saloons also enable the perfect viewpoint for all that staggering scenery.
OF SEA AND SKY
Naturally, the Aurora Borealis is a natural phenomenon that regularly appears when certain atmospheric conditions are met: chiefly, the solar winds causing disturbances in the magnetosphere of the earth. As such, in the event that they do not appear during your travels, Hurtigruten offers its Northern Lights Promise: if the lights are not recorded during your Follow the Lights sailing, it will provide a free northbound or southbound voyage (T&Cs apply).
So, if you’ve ever dreamt of seeing the Lights for yourself, strolling through Santa’s village, dashing through the snow on a reindeer sleigh, or immersing yourself in the exquisite architectures of some of northern Europe’s most charming, fairytale-eque cities, it may be time to look to the skies for inspiration and book your journey, for an adventure that will repay your curiosity in spades.
Visit hurtigruten.com.au or talk to Hurtigruten’s local coastal experts about 2024/2025 Follow the Lights itineraries. Want to depart earlier? Limited places available from Nov-Mar 23/24. Don’t miss out!