Cruise holidays to see the Northern Lights are rising in popularity among Brits, and it's not difficult to work out why. Being on the deck of a ship at at sea, far away from artificial light pollution yet a stone's throw away from your cosy cabin and a hot toddy or three, you're in a pretty ideal place for Borealis-spotting.
This year sees a number of new cruises to the Arctic Circle, Greenland and Norway, many with some great deals. And with 2013 predicted to be one of the most active for this natural phenomena, this is a good moment to consider floating away under the colourful sky. Check out our selection of the best offerings below.
Northern Lights cruises
Top ten Northern Lights cruises
The Aurora Borealis cruise though Norwegian waters offered by Northern Lights Holidays promises to take you to some of the world's most impressive viewing points. Highlights include sightseeing in Tromsø; visiting Hammerfest, the world's most northerly town, and the Lofoten Islands, which are inhabited by an array of wildlife, as well as the fascinating town of Bergen. Departures are available until 31 March and prices start from £1,524 per person, including return flights from London.
The skies above East Greenland, one of the most isolated regions on earth, provide one of the best places to witness the Northern Lights in their full glory. Exodus offers a 14-night voyage taking in the splendour of 'iceberg alley' as well as a glimpse into the lifestyle of the remote residents of Ittoqqortoormiit, the most northerly community in East Greenland. There are also opportunities for some wonderful hiking. From £7,100 per person.
Norwegian cruise specialist Hurtigruten offers a whole array of cruises taking in the Northern Lights, departing daily from Bergen. By taking a full 12-day voyage up to Kirkenes, just six miles from the Russian border, and back, you’ll have the most time aboard to scan the night sky. There are opportunities to visit an ice hotel too. A Classic Round Voyage costs from £647 per person.
Quark Expeditions' 10-day tour takes you on a cruise across the Denmark Strait and up the coast of East Greenland to visit one of the most northerly settlements in the world. Visit Inuit communities preparing for winter and hike frost-sparkled tundra meadows on this autumn cruise holiday. To ensure pristine conditions, the Ocean Nova ship will be based in remote areas. Departures in September cost from £4,100 per person.
Discover the 'Land of Fire and Ice' on a voyage to Iceland to witness the incredible Northern Lights over 12 nights. Cruise and Maritime Voyages' Land of the Northern Lights to Iceland cruise holiday departs London Tilbury and stops in the Faroe, Shetland and Orkney Islands along the way. When you arrive in Iceland, you'll visit a remote site away from Reykjavik for the best opportunity to search for the Aurora Borealis and can even take a 4x4 or snowmobile tour across the unique landscape while you're there. From £869 per person.
For shorter, fully escorted Northern Lights cruise, Authentic Scandinavia's four-day Short Winter Cruise in Norway, which combines an overnight stay in the Northern Lights city of Tromso with a two-day cruise aboard Hurtigruten to Kirkenes. You can choose from a selection of winter activities and enjoy visits to Tromso's Mack Brewery, the Arctic Cathedral and Polaria, the world's most northerly aquarium. The holidays costs from £489 per person.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines' In Search of the Northern Lights round-trip cruise from Southampton takes in Norway's dramatic landscapes, incredible attractions and the magical Northern Lights on a 14-night itinerary. Highlights include the interesting city of Trondheim, as well as Alta, where you can meet the indigenous Finnmark people, and spectacular wildlife experiences, such as an encounter with wolves, lynx, arctic foxes and reindeer on a tour of the Polar Park. From £1,499 per person.
Explore Iceland's vibrant colours on an autumn cruise to see the Northern Lights. On Iceland Pro Cruises' seven-day Northern Lights and Whales tour, you will spend the days encountering a wide variety of whale species, before hunting for the Aurora Borealis by night. The unique itinerary takes in the West Coast on a three-day cruise, with lectures by local experts, and includes a motor-coach trek along the South Coast. From £1,199 per person.
Embark on a scenic cruise to one of the world's best regions for viewing the Aurora Borealis with P&O Cruises on the Norway & Northern Lights sailing on 6 March. Ship Oriana will call at Andalsnes, where you can view the highest alpine drop in northern Europe, before travelling north above the Arctic Circle in search of the dancing lights in Tromso and Alta. From £1,399 per person for 12 nights.
Jump aboard Saga's 16-night Northern Lights cruise next winter aboard the Saga Pearl II and you'll travel from Southampton and sail across the Arctic Circle, taking in Norway's picture-perfect scenery along the way. A selection of special winter activities including a visit to an ice hotel and dog sledding are available, as well as expeditions into the Arctic tundra. From £3,187 per person.