View The Northern Lights This Year On This Unforgettable, Astronomy-Themed Cruise

If the Northern Lights are on your bucket list, an astronomy-themed cruise in Norway could be just the ticket. The cruise and ferry line Havila Voyages recently announced three upcoming voyages in 2024 for February, March, and October. Each 12-day cruise will give travelers the chance to sail along the striking Norwegian coast in an environmentally responsible ship, learn about astronomy, book unforgettable excursions, and view the famous green and purple ribbons of light shimmering above the Earth.

Even better, you can book your ticket with confidence, as each journey is backed by the company's Northern Lights Promise, says the cruise website. If you don't get to see the aurora borealis during your trip dates, you can re-book a week-long cruise in an inside cabin for free with all your meals comped. With NASA's predictions for 2024, though, we doubt you'll need to resort to that. The sun will be more active than usual this year in what's known as a solar maximum, offering stargazers more opportunities to see the lights.

Cruise features and amenities

Havila Voyages boasts comfort and style. The modern cabins start at $1,280 for 107 square feet of space with a bed, a sofa, a coffee maker, and free WiFi. For a more luxurious experience, you could always book a suite for $2,543 with 161 square feet of space and a private balcony — the perfect place to relax and take in some of the best views of Northern Europe. The onboard amenities include a promenade deck to walk around the ship, two saunas, a gym, a hot tub that faces the passing landscapes, and shops to pick up books and souvenirs. Your ticket also includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner at three dining areas. The route from Bergen to Kirkenes passes through four different "food universes," explains the cruise website, making each day a different culinary experience.

At night, you'll be able to look up at the sky for a pure view of the cosmos without any light pollution. To contextualize the experience, there will be experts from the Royal Astronomical Society onboard giving lectures. On the February and October voyages, author of the Oxford Dictionary of Astronomy, Ian Ridpath, will speak on the science behind the Northern Lights, the Apollo missions, and how comets float through space. On the March voyage, space scientist and professor John Zarnecki will speak about the search for extraterrestrial life, Saturn's largest moon Titan, and strange cosmic phenomena, among other topics. The lectures are an add-on feature for $303.

Port stops and excursions

Unlike a traditional cruise line, Havila Voyages operates the Norwegian Coastal Express, which connects locals to different communities up and down the coast. The route has been in operation for 130 years, stopping in 34 ports along the way for nearly two weeks. As such, you'll have ample opportunities to explore new towns for hours at a time. If the ship passes through a town that piques your interest at night, don't worry. You'll get to see it during daylight on the way back down.

The cruise can also arrange plenty of excursions. You can tour the North Cape plateau, a puffin paradise and the northernmost part of Europe with a stunning cliffside view from 1,000 feet above the Arctic Ocean. The Snowhotel Kirkenes is another fan-favorite, which is exactly what it sounds like: a hotel with furnishings made of ice, from the chairs to the fireplace. You can also swap the cruise ship for an inflatable boat and get close to the world's strongest maelstrom, Saltstraumen, the result of a narrow channel with pressure from the sea on one side and a fjord on the other. The fight between the two tides leads to a dazzling display of vortexes that change throughout the day. As if that isn't enough, there's also hiking, e-biking, kayaking, and three different dog-sledding adventures to choose from. Both onboard and on the ground, this is one well-rounded visit to Norway you won't soon forget.