What are the best UK cruises to see the Northern Lights in winter?

Winter travel to the Arctic regions offers a myriad of enchanting experiences, and topping that list is the magical spectacle of the Aurora Borealis, more commonly known as the Northern Lights. While there are numerous ways to witness this natural wonder, viewing it from the unique perspective of a cruise ship amplifies the experience exponentially. So, if you're planning your next winters' dream holiday, let us guide you through the best UK cruises to see the Northern Lights in Norway and other Arctic regions.

A Glimpse Into the Northern Lights Cruise Experience

Before delving into the specifics, it's essential to understand what a Northern Lights cruise entails. Imagine gliding on serene Arctic waters, with a backdrop of pristine snow-clad landscapes, and above, a sky ablaze with hues of green, pink and purple, forming a celestial dance. This is the magic a Northern Lights cruise promises. The experience offers surreal views of the Aurora Borealis, evening expeditions for optimal viewing, and the chance to explore Arctic towns during the day.

Northern Lights cruises are typically offered during the winter months when the nights are longest, providing ample opportunity to witness this natural phenomenon. Many cruises also incorporate experts onboard, who provide insights into the science behind these mesmerising lights.

The Best Cruises to See The Northern Lights

In the UK, several cruise lines offer Northern Lights cruises, but which ones stand out for their exceptional experience? Here are some of the best options.

Hurtigruten Northern Lights Cruise

One of the most popular Northern Lights cruises is offered by Hurtigruten, a Norwegian cruise line renowned for its incredible Arctic expeditions. Hurtigruten's 'Classic Round Voyage' is a 12-day trip that starts and ends in the UK, taking you deep into the heart of Norway. The trip offers ample night time opportunities to witness the Northern Lights along with the chance to visit idyllic Norwegian towns. The ship's unique 'Northern Lights Promise' even says that you get another cruise for free if the Northern Lights don't appear during your trip.

P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises' 'Norway and Northern Lights' cruise is another excellent option. Departing from Southampton, this 12-night cruise offers stunning views of the Norwegian Fjords and prime Northern Lights viewing opportunities. The ship is equipped with modern amenities and even has an onboard expert to guide guests about the Northern Lights.

Tips to Maximize Your Northern Lights Cruise Experience

While a Northern Lights cruise promises a magical experience, certain tips can help enhance your journey. Firstly, ensure to book your cruise during peak Northern Lights season, which is from late November to early March. This time offers the longest nights and thus, the best chances to see the Aurora Borealis.

Pack appropriately for your Arctic expedition. Winter in the Arctic is harsh, so it's best to come prepared with thermal clothing, waterproof jackets and boots, and accessories like hats, gloves and scarves.

Lastly, remember that the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon, and their appearance is not guaranteed. However, going on a cruise increases your chances due to the lack of light pollution at sea.

The Unparalleled Beauty of Arctic Cruise Holidays

A Northern Lights cruise is more than just about the lights. It's about immersing yourself in the Arctic's ethereal beauty, exploring quaint towns, and experiencing a winter wonderland. Northern Lights cruises offer a unique blend of tranquillity and adventure, making them a perfect holiday choice for those seeking a break from the ordinary.

Whether it's witnessing the Northern Lights, exploring Norway's breathtaking fjords, or simply enjoying the serene Arctic waters, a Northern Lights cruise is guaranteed to offer an unforgettable holiday.

Fred. Olsen Northern Lights Cruise and Travel Insurance

Another top-notch UK cruise line that offers Northern Lights cruises is Fred. Olsen. Known for its smaller, intimate ships and excellent service, Fred. Olsen offers a 14-night 'In Search of the Northern Lights' cruise. Departing from the UK, this cruise takes travellers deep into the Arctic Circle, providing them with optimal viewing opportunities for the Aurora Borealis.

The cruise itinerary includes visits to beautiful Arctic towns, where travellers can immerse themselves in local culture and heritage. The ship is equipped with modern facilities and amenities to ensure a comfortable journey. In addition, Fred. Olsen has a team of experts onboard who provide fascinating insights about the Northern Lights and the Arctic region.

When booking a Northern Lights cruise, it is also crucial to consider travel insurance. Although these cruises offer a unique and exciting experience, they also come with potential risks associated with winter travel and cruising. These could include weather-related disruptions, medical emergencies, or unexpected cancellations. Therefore, having comprehensive travel insurance can provide you with peace of mind during your Arctic adventure.

River Cruises and the Best Time for Northern Lights

Apart from ocean cruises, river cruises are also a great way to see the Northern Lights. These cruises offer a different perspective, taking you along the picturesque fjords of Northern Norway. River cruises are typically smaller, making for a more personal and intimate experience. They also navigate closer to the coastline, providing stunning views of the snow-clad landscapes.

One of the most important factors to consider when planning a Northern Lights cruise is the best time to go. The Northern Lights are most visible during the winter months, from late November to early March. This is when the nights are longest and the skies are darkest, providing the best conditions for viewing the Aurora Borealis. Be aware, though, that the Arctic winter is extremely cold, so packing appropriate thermal clothing is crucial.


In conclusion, a Northern Lights cruise is a remarkable way to spend your winter holiday. It not only gives you the opportunity to witness one of nature's most stunning spectacles - the Aurora Borealis - but also allows you to explore the untouched beauty of the Arctic region.

Whether you choose an ocean cruise with Hurtigruten, P&O, or Fred. Olsen, or prefer the intimacy of a river cruise, remember to book during the peak Northern Lights season and secure travel insurance for your trip. These cruises offer an unparalleled blend of relaxation, adventure, and mesmerising views, making them a perfect escape from the ordinary.

With the right preparation and a sense of adventure, a Northern Lights cruise promises a holiday experience that you will cherish forever. As you glide on the serene Arctic waters under the celestial dance of the Northern Lights, you'll understand why these cruises are considered one of the best ways to spend a winter in Norway and the Arctic Circle.