Northern Lights Expedition Cruise from Dover
|Resort:||Northern Lights Expedition Cruise from Dover|
Sail direct from Dover to the best of the Norwegian coast above and below the Arctic Circle. Youll enjoy adventure under the active Auroral Zone, assured by our Northern Lights Promise of a free voyage if the aurora doesnt occur. Engage in exciting optional winter excursions while you visit cosy cities, historic towns, and beautiful villages.
From the White Cliffs of Dover to Norways Arctic
Board comfortable MS Maud in Dover bound for Norway. If winter weather on the North Sea doesnt delay us too much, well arrive in the bustling city of Bergen and ride the funicular to the panorama at Mount Flyen. Next stop is Loen at the foot of Mount Hoven, the summit of which has views of Jostedalsbreen Glacier. Then, chill out at the Magic Ice bar in Svolvr and brush up on British WWII history in Narvik.
Alta in the Arctic boasts ideal skies for you to see the aurora, perhaps appearing above its artistic Northern Lights Cathedral. Then its on to Tromss Polar Museum where youll discover the importance of this polar city and enjoy optional winter excursions. The fishing villages of Reine and in the Lofoten Islands are exceptionally pretty while Kalvg is a hidden gem few ever see. Well attempt to go ashore on the islands of Mostery and Klostery or explore the heritage of Stavanger before returning to Dover.
Included in your voyage:
Not included in your voyage
DAY 1 DOVER, UK Setting off from the White Cliffs Estimated time of departure is 16:00
All aboard at Dover! MS Maud is here, ready and waiting to bring you north to Norways magical landscapes on the hunt for one of natures greatest spectacles: The Northern Lights.
Once on board the ship, youll pick up your complimentary expedition jacket, settle into your cabin, explore the ship and attend a mandatory safety drill. After the first of many sumptuous dinners and a welcome toast by the Captain, youll meet your expert Expedition Team. They are your knowledgeable lecturers, warm hosts, and good-natured guides throughout your journey. Many grew up and live in the places youll be visiting and are passionate about sharing their home with you. First and foremost though, they are there to keep you safe and well. Theyll be making it a priority to run through important health and safety aspects with you and your fellow guests.
When the ship sets sail, well pass the white cliffs of Dover and head up to the North Sea. Stretch your sea legs and get to know MS Maud, your cosy home away from home. If the weather holds, take in the salubrious sea air from out on deck or park yourself in the Explorer Lounge and Bar to watch the world go by from the panoramic windows, maybe together with a relaxing glass of wine. Your adventure to the Arctic under the Auroral Zone is officially underway!
DAY 2 AT SEA Norway bound
This day at sea gives you all the time you need to ease into your journey. Youll definitely want to start enjoying onboard facilities like the hot tubs, sauna, and indoor gym. But youll likely also be striking up a camaraderie with the Expedition Team as well as other crew members and guests.
The Expedition Team will begin the first in their series of insightful lectures over at the Science Center. Each member of the Expedition Team are experts on different subjects and youll find them to be walking, talking treasure troves of stories and information. Theyll share their extensive knowledge about the places, history, nature, people and natural phenomena we are likely to encounter during this winter cruise along the Norwegian coast. Todays topics might include the geology of the North Sea, the science behind the Northern Lights, or the history of Hurtigruten as a national icon of Norway.
Even as no one can completely predict the weather, wind and waves on the North Sea are known to be a bit choppy at this time of year. Our Captains goal is to bring us into Bergen the next day, but where nature is involved, nothing can be completely set in stone. This is just part and parcel of the expedition experience, adding extra suspense and excitement to your adventure. Rest assured that well be doing our best to make your cruise as safe and as smooth as possible, even if it means being flexible and adapting our plans to factor in the elements.
DAY 3 BERGEN City of Seven Mountains
In the morning, youll get your first glimpse of the Norwegian coast as small islands and mountains appear on the horizon. Well leave the North Sea and enter scenic straits and fjords on our way to the Hanseatic city of Bergen. Depending on the weather when crossing the North Sea, we aim to arrive in Bergen in the afternoon. As our first port of call in Norway, and one of the countrys most picturesque cities, Bergen wont disappoint. Founded in 1070 AD, Bergen was Norways capital for many years and youll see that the city has retained a great deal of its local character, heritage and charm.
Your included activity in Bergen is an excursion to Mount Flyen. Well hop on Hurtigruten buses from where the ship docks and drive to the Flibanen funicular. The ride to the top of the mountain takes just six minutes. At the summit, 320 metres high, bask in stunning views over the city surrounded by seven mountains and the sea. If theres time, we might also have an opportunity to venture into the alpine forest here for a short hike.
Once back in the centre of Bergen, spend some time wandering the cobblestone streets and alleyways of this thriving, compact city. Be sure to stroll through the historic UNESCO-listed Bryggen district with its colourful wooden wharfs. The area dates back to the 14th century and now houses boutique stores selling a range of Norwegian arts and crafts. Across from Bryggen is Bergens famous fish market which is full of sights, sounds and scents to savour.
DAY 4 NORDFJORD & LOEN – ANCHORED – FULL DAY Fjord side to mountain top in five
We start the day with some scenic cruising intoNordfjord,passing Hornelen, Europes highest sea cliff,early in the morning. The fjord run offs from Jostedalsbreen, Europe’s largest mainland glacier, and flows west into the ocean just south of the Stadlandet peninsula.
Thanks to the smaller size of our expedition ship, well be taking you through straits and channels that larger vessels simply cant fit through. This allows you to get that much closer to the fjords and mountains that the Norwegian coast is so famous for. It also means we can access small communities that few ever get to visit, giving you an intimate glimpse into the culture and way of life here.
It would make sense if lectures for today focus on the geology of Norway, covering the formation of its fjords, mountains and glaciers. You might also learn more about the Viking culture that used to inhabit the region and their thirst for exploration that still beats in the hearts of Norwegians today.
Youll spot numerous old fishing communities located along the fjord that actually date back to pre-Viking times. One such place is Loen, where we arrive around noon. In the shadow of the mightyJostedalsbreenglacier, at thevery heart ofNordfjord,Loenis the perfect place toexplore the gorgeous surrounds.
We use our small boats toland at a floating jetty which is conveniently also a starting point for the LoenSkylift. Thecable car climbs 1,011 metre to the top of Mount Hoven in only five minutes. At the summit, youll be treated to an unforgettable vista over the fjord. Mount Skla and Lake Lo can be seen to the east, and Jostedalsbreen Glacier and Olden to the south. With these panoramas all around you, you can participate in several optional winter activities on the mountain, such as snowshoeing or sledding. If time and weather allow, there might also be an opportunity to do some thrilling winter kayaking on the fjord.
DAY 5 AT SEA – AT SEA Approaching the Arctic Circle
Today you can spend time in the ships lounge, soaking in a hot tub, or out on deck. Whatever you do, dont take your eyes off the scenery as we sail through Helgeland county and the thousands of islands of the lowland area. Pick out the peaks of the Seven Sisters mountain range, thought to be the petrified bodies of seven troll sisters caught out at sunrise. Youll likely be amazed at Torghatten mountain too, with its distinct hole right through the middle. Local legend states that the mountain was in fact the troll-kings hat which turned to stone when it was pierced through by an arrow.
At this point of your expedition, we are around the halfway mark along Norways long coastline and you wont be far off from the Arctic Circle. This is an exciting time as the further north we sail, the greater your chances of seeing the Northern Lights. The natural phenomenon occurs when charged particles carried by the solar wind disturb the Earths upper atmosphere, creating mesmerising ripples and rays. The end result is a cosmic lightshow of dazzling colour and dance. Our route along the Norwegian coast will take us directly under the Auroral Zone, a prime area of Northern Lights occurrences. Well be hoping to see multiple sightings of the lights in different locations.
The weather in northern Norway will be noticeably nippier and the amount of snow youll see will normally start to increase as well, which actually has the effect of making the landscapes seem brighter. Depending on when in the winter season you sail, the periods of daylight will be fairly short and grow even more brief above the Arctic Circle. Its not complete darkness though as youll also get to experience the very romantic blue hour. This is an extended twilight that can actually be several hours long. The winter sun glows just below the horizon, bathing Norways fjords and mountains in a dreamy cobalt-blue light.
The Expedition Team will continue their onboard lectures which may cover local folklore and fairytales or a history of navigation along the coast from lighthouses to satellites. You might also learn about the quintessentially Norwegian love of the outdoors known as friluftsliv. Or perhaps pick up tips from the professional onboard photographer on how best to capture the aurora when they appear.
DAY 6 SVOLVR, LOFOTEN Enchantment in the Lofoten Islands
There are just a few places on Earth where you can sail north of the Arctic Circle in wintertime. The Norwegian coast is one of them. The ship will officially cross over the Arctic Circle sometime in the morning. To mark the occasion in the tradition of Norwegian sailors, well be inviting you out on deck for a special ceremony. Exactly what happens is something youll just have to find out on your cruise!
The Lofoten Islands are one of the most spectacular locations in all of Norway and maybe even the world. As we approach the archipelago, the sight of the massive wall of mountains and dramatic peaks rising up out of the sea is something youll never forget. Serene fishing villages sit nestled in the sheltered coves, all the more charming if dusted with the seasons snow and if the aurora is seen swirling above.
We sail along Vestfjord and arrive in Svolvr in the afternoon. This is the largest town in Lofoten with about 4,800 residents, many of whom work as fishermen. There are shops and art galleries to browse along the seafront promenade and rows of rorbuer, fishing huts, to admire. You might spot wooden racks called hjell dotted around the shores of the town too. Locally caught cod is dried on these racks and later turned into trrfisk, or stockfish in English, and prized as a local delicacy. Fishing is clearly an important way of life in Lofoten and the lecture for the day may focus on how cod effectively helped to build Norway into a country.
From where you get off the ship, its a short walk to your inclusive visit to the multicoloured Magic Ice bar. The former fish-freezing warehouse now displays a range of selfie-suitable ice sculptures that depict Lofoten life and Viking culture. Enjoy a signature spirit to warm you up, served in an ice glass of course! Your expert Expedition Team will also flex their local knowledge by handpicking safe and spectacular hiking trails or snowshoeing areas to offer as optional excursions.
DAY 7 NARVIK, OFOTEN The Battle of Narvik
We arrive into Narvik in the morning. The town has a spectacular setting on a peninsula surrounded by three fjords: The Ofotfjord, Rombaken, and Beisfjord. The multiple mountains also help to shelter its popular ski slopes from strong coastal winds. And while Narvik is one of the most northerly towns inthe world, some 220kilometres within the Arctic Circle, it enjoys a milder climate than expected thanks to the North Atlantic Current.
Narviktraces its history back to theBronze Age and was a Vikingsettlement for a time as well. ModernNarvikdeveloped as anall-year port for Swedish iron mines, which madethe townastrategic target for Germany during World War II. Youll visit the Narvik War Museum to see exhibits and artifacts from the war, learning about the heroism of British and Allied troops in liberating the town from the Nazis.
Inspring 1940, the British Admiralty launched Operation Wilfred to protect Narvik which in turn prompted Germany to invade the town with ten destroyers each loaded with 200 mountain infantry soldiers. The Royal Navy quickly responded, taking control of the coast and laying waste to the destroyers. Under the command of British General Mackesy, Allied forces launched an offensive to recapture Narvik. However, Mackesy refused orders from the Admiralty to bombard the town, choosing instead to prioritise the safety of the Norwegian civilians and to wait for the snow to melt to initiate his ground attack. The ensuing battle at Narvik two months later is considered to be the first Allied infantry victory in World War II.
Aside from the museum, you can enjoy galleries, shops, and restaurants which specialise in locally-sourced seafoodfrom the fjords and reindeer meatfrom the mountains. Ride the cable car to the top of Mount Narvik for the breathtaking views or go on optional excursion hikes, snowshoeing or kayaking on the fjords. The lectures for the day will probably be about Narviks World War II history or about the mammals of northern Norway.
DAY 8 ALTA, 70 NORTH The City of the Northern Lights
Alta lies in the vast wilderness of Finnmark county, well above the Arctic Circleat 70degreesnorth. Welcome to the turning point of your expedition and to one of the northernmost towns in the world with a population over 10,000. Well arrive here in the early afternoon and plan to stay past midnight to stargaze and watch for the aurora in Altas usually clear skies. The town is directly beneath the Auroral Oval, a zone known for consistent Northern Lights activity. If the heavens arent overcast, and the conditions are right, you might well be in for quite the show…
Youll learn more about the aurora at the modern Northern Lights Cathedral in Alta. The titanium-clad building and its spiral belfry dominate the skyline here, all the more impressive when illuminated at night. There is an interactive exhibition here that chronicles how NorwegianscientistKristianBirkeland established Altaas an epicentre for ground-breaking Northern Lights research in the late 19thand early 20thcenturies. Youll also be treated to a classical concert in the cathedral as part of your visit.
Troms and Finnmark county also forms part of the traditional lands of the indigenous Smi whose livelihoods revolve around semi-nomadic reindeer herding. The Expedition Team may take the opportunity being in Alta to talk more on Smi culture. Not far from Alta is Mze, a Smi village located along Kautokeino river and visitable as part of an optional excursion. When more snow falls as winter progresses, Alta is also prime territory for visits to snow hotels, dog sledding and snowmobiling.
DAY 9 TROMS Gateway to the Arctic
Its time to explore Troms, capital of the Arctic. But before we do, well be on the watch for humpback whales out on deck or in the Explorer Lounge. Families of these gentle giants are known to frequent the winter waters here, feeding on the abundant herring. The Expedition Team will also be on the lookout and alert you to any sightings.
Well reach the city of Troms around lunchtime and spend the rest of the day and evening exploring its fascinating history, culture and bold architecture. The Arctic Cathedral is one of the most striking landmarks in Troms, especially when lit up at night. It features an attractive, huge stained-glass window that is well worth seeing up close.
Historically, Troms was a frontier town for returning hunters and explorers and acted as a launch point for several Arctic expeditions. Today, the city is often called the Paris of the North because of its international and cultural diversity. You can busy yourself by browsing the shops or sampling the regions fresh produce in a range of restaurants. Feel like meeting some of the friendly locals? Troms is home to the worlds northernmost brewery, Mack Bryggeri, which also runs lhallen, a lively pub where townspeople go for a chat and a few pints.
Your included activity in Troms is a visit to the Polar Museum which is housed in a converted 1830s warehouse on the seafront. Youll enjoy exhibitions that cover the citys heritage as a base for famous trappers Henry Rudi and Wanny Wolstad, the first female hunter in Svalbard. Troms also played a crucial role in the expeditions of legendary explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen.
Other winter activities available in Troms include optional excursions with our Expedition Team on nature hikes, snowshoeing, and aurora-hunting bus rides. And like many places in Arctic Norway, when there is enough snow later in winter, the landscape becomes the ideal place to engage in some exhilarating dog sledding.
DAY 10 REINE Idyllic island life
In the morning, we dock into the picture-perfect fishing village of Reine back in the Lofoten Islands. This is where red-painted rorbuer cling to a string of islands beneath sharp granite mountain ranges. The 450-metre tall Reinebringen is one of the most distinctive peaks, particularly dramatic when layered with snow. The combination of setting and colour makes Reine one of the most photographed landscapes in all of Norway. Youll be hoping the Northern Lights are active above the village when we are there, completing the composition of your own photo of this piece of paradise.
After spending some time wandering around Reine, ooh-ing and aah-ing at the scenery, youll go on your included activity for today. A 30-minute bus ride will take you to , one of the best-preserved traditional fishing villages in Norway. At the heart of the tiny village is the Norwegian Fishing Village Museum which covers the importance and development of fishing in Lofoten over the last 250 years. Exploring at your leisure, youll soon discover that the village is the museum and the museum is the village.
Later on, return to Reine where there may be opportunities to do some hikes with the Expedition Team or even try some winter kayaking. The views to enjoy here will certainly tempt you to sign up to either. Youll then rejoin the ship and marvel more at the surrounding scenery which is spell-bindingly beautiful, whether washed in the lights of the aurora or not.
DAY 11 AT SEA – AT SEA Science on the sea
Part ofbeing onan expedition is knowing how to enjoy the moment;taking time out toreconnect with nature and the world around you.So,settle into a sofa in thepanoramic ExplorerLounge orsoakin a hot tubout on deck, sit back and simply take in theserenescenery that rollsquietlyby. Well be passing through the Vega archipelago today, made up of some 6,500 islands, islets, and skerries.
Theres more to learn in lectures from the expert Expedition Teamand you can dabble in a bit of science with the microscopes and library of slides in the onboard Science Center. We also support a number of Citizen Science projects that you can join. These projects include Happywhale where your photographs help identify and track whales across the planet. Or the Globe observer project which combines your observations of clouds and sky conditions from below with data collected by satellites. Not only will you be supporting the scientific community, youll also be getting a better understanding of the world around you.
DAY 12 KALVG, WEST COAST ISLAND The hidden Frozen Bay
We welcome you to the little fishing village of Kalvg, situatedfar out on the coastline with theopen North Sea to the west. Its name literally means Frozen Bay in the Old Norse. This probably gives you an indication that it isnt always possible for our ship to make a landing here and that it does depends on the local weather and sea conditions at the time.
If and when you do come ashore here, youll discover one of the best kept secrets of the Norwegian coast. No other expedition ships visit Kalvg so youll experience an authentic slice-of-life community who will likely be thrilled to have visitors. As part of our traditional Norwegian coastal voyage, our Captains have sailed these waters for decades, always wishing there was time to stop and show you around this oh-so-charming village. Weve listened to their expert recommendation and thats now exactly what youll get to do on this expedition cruise.
Admire an open-air art exhibition and walk around Kalvgs collectionof old waterfront buildings, from restored wooden wharfs to herring salting warehouses. Cosy-looking houses cluster together around the bay, the reflections of their lights shimmering like candles in the waters below. The wonderful wintery atmosphere is even more captivating if you come when the village is coated with a snug blanket of snow.
DAY 13 MOSTERY, SOUTH WEST ISLAND – ANCHORED – FULL DAY Exploring Norwegian heritage
Your final day of exploration begins as we arrive at Mosteryand Klostery in the morning, two of the myriads of islands that lie around the city of Stavanger. The islands are relatively exposed to the sea and so our going ashore here will be decided based on how kind the waves and wind are on the day.
Mostery is a lovely island that is made up of a mixture of pastures for cattle, horticulture, and cute neighbourhoods all around. Klostery is less than a square mile in size but home to the historic Utstein Abbeyand the 800-year old Utstein Church. The stone church is a protected site and while it seats up to 300 people, it is only used for special occasions. On the other hand, the abbey is Norways best-preserved medieval monastery and still hired out as a venue for concerts, seminars, and conventions. So much so that it is even noted as a well-known hosting ground for conferences on emergency medicine.
The islands are connected by bridges and tunnels and all roads here lead to thecity of Stavanger on the mainland.
This is the oil and energy capital of Norway, an international, cosmopolitan city which is as hip as it is historic. You can learn more about Norways off-shore wealth on an optional excursion visit to the Norwegian Petroleum Museum, possibly the only one of its kind in all of Europe and built as a replica of an oil platform. Few places in Norway have embraced the foodie scene as well as Stavanger. The citys creative cuisine has won it two Michelin-starred restaurants and earned it the nickname of The Food Pantry of Norway. You can stroll down vre Holmgate and take your pick of caf, pub, restaurant or boutique store. Or how about popping in to the surprisingly fun and quirky Norwegian Canning Museum, complete with hands-on exhibits? Youll never look at a can of tuna the same way again!
While modernity thrives in avant-garde gastronomy and Scandi street art, the citys proud history is also never far from sight. Take a walk around the Gamle Stavanger neighbourhood which features 170 ofEuropes best-preserved wooden houses from the 18th century. You can also see Norways oldest domkirke, cathedral, constructed in the Anglo-Norman style around 1125 by an English Bishop, and virtually unchanged since the 1300s.
DAY 14 AT SEA Headed home
Your expedition is fast coming to an end. By this stage of your journey, youll have made friends with your fellow explorers, finding that you have much in common in terms of your interests and passion for nature. You can spend time chatting with them over a snack at the bistro-like Fredheim, perhaps recalling the best moments of your expedition together. Enjoy drinks at the Explorer Bar while swapping friendly banter and stories of past adventures. You might even catch a couple of the crew and Expedition Team here too.
If youd rather spend this last day at sea in quiet contemplation, youll likely have multiple memory cards full of Northern Lights photos and more to sift through and reminisce on. Take stock of everything youve seen and experienced with a blood-pumping session in the gym and then relax in the soothing steam of the sauna one last time.
DAY 15 DOVER Back to Blighty Estimated time of arrival is 09:00
Wepass the white cliffs of Doverduring the early morning hoursand dock at the citysharbour. After a final breakfast, itll be time to say a fond farewell to the ship, the Captain, crew, Expedition Team, and your new-found friends.
As youhead ashore,youll take with you special memories ofNorwayinwinter: wonderful fjords, fascinating towns and cities,friendly people, andthemagicalNorthern Lights.
We look forward to welcoming you aboard again with us soon!