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Frozen paradise

Huskies, northern lights and reindeer – eco-cruising in Arctic Norway

Norway cruises are the perfect opportunity to soak up the majestic Northern Lights. We went on an all-new eco-friendly adventure in search of Mother Nature’s dazzling light show.

Words by Jeannine Williamson

The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are arguably one of the most spectacular natural shows on earth.

Although sightings are never guaranteed, if you cruise to Arctic Norway from late September to early April, you’ll maximise the chances of getting a glimpse of the phenomena that occurs on cold, clear nights.

Strike lucky and you will gaze in awe at a luminous sweep of green brushstrokes dancing across the sky.

And even if they put in an appearance when you’ve gone to bed, you’re guaranteed to see them on a new cruise line that’s plying Norway’s coastline between Bergen and Kirkenes.

Press the special Northern Lights button on the phone in your cabin and you’ll get a wake-up call so you can grab your coat and head out on deck.

Havila Capella is the first of four new ships launched by Havila Voyages to transport passengers, locals and freight along the 34-port route between Bergen and Kirkenes.

The round-trip Norway cruise takes 11 nights or can be broken down into a six-night northern itinerary or five-night sailing going south.

It’s a fascinating and breathtakingly scenic journey that hugs the coast, meaning there is always something to see, on a ship with impressive eco-credentials.

The hybrid eco-friendly cruise ship is equipped with a giant battery pack – the largest on any vessel to date – which means it can sail under battery power – silently and emission-free – for up to four hours.

Echoing this green ethos, the optional shore excursions on these Norway cruises have been carefully picked to be eco-friendly and support local communities.

Animal lovers won’t want to miss a husky sledding adventure at Tromso Wilderness Centre, which is home to around 200 Alaskan huskies.

Visitors can wander around the compound to pet the friendly dogs and, depending when you visit, you might even be fortunate enough to cuddle a puppy.

This is followed by a thrilling sled ride with a guide steering the dog team while you sit in the sled in cosy snow suits provided by the centre.

Other Norway tours also provide a real insight into this remote region. There’s another sled ride, this time pulled by a reindeer, where you’ll also learn about the Sami tribes that own them.

Northern Norway is inhabited by the world’s largest population of these indigenous people who have traditionally relied on reindeer as the mainstay of their economy and culture; providing transport, food, skin for clothing and antlers and bones for tools and utensils.

Reindeer is a staple on many local restaurant menus, and although this might cause an initial shock for visitors it is arguably the ultimate free-range meat.

On other days on these cruises around Norway there are tours along the shoreline in rugged RIB boats, bracing hikes and a visit to the North Cape, the most northerly point in Europe that is 2,000 km from the North Pole.

Back aboard Havila Capella there’s a delicious menu of regional cuisine that changes every few days to reflect the area where the ship is sailing; flavors of the fjords, polar region, Arctic, and Norwegian archipelago.

All in all, this Norway cruise provides a real taste of this stunning coastline and if you get to see the Northern Lights it’s the icing on the cake.

Set Sail

Voyage North with Havila Voyages

When: December 10, 2022

Duration: 6 nights

Where: Bergen | Ålesund | Trondheim | Arctic Circle | Tromsø | North Cape | Kirkenes

Ship: Havila Capella

Price: From £1,442 pp

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Published 12.07.22