Northern Lights Expedition Cruise from Dover
- Spend six days sailing above the Arctic Circle, in the Auroral Zone
- Enjoy a range of exciting optional winter excursions, especially when it’s snowy
- Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice
- Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurants Aune and Fredheim
- Fine-dining À la carte restaurant Lindstrøm is included for suite guests
- Complimentary tea and coffee
- Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
- Complimentary reusable water bottle to fill at onboard water refill stations
- English-speaking Expedition Team who organize and guide activities, both on board and ashore
- Range of included activities
- Experts from the Expedition Team present detailed lectures on a variety of topics
- Use the ship’s Science Center, which features an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
- The Citizen Science program allows guests to contribute to current scientific research
- The onboard professional photographer will give tips and tricks for taking the best landscape and wildlife photos
- The ship has hot tubs, a panoramic sauna, and outdoor and indoor gyms
- Participate in informal gatherings with the crew, such as daily recaps and the next day’s preparations
- Escorted landings with small boats (RIBs)
- Trekking poles, head lamps, and walking poles are available, if necessary
- Complimentary wind- and water-resistant expedition jacket
- Expedition photographers will help configure your camera settings before landings
- International flights
- Travel protection
- Baggage handling
- Optional shore excursions with our local partners
- Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team
- Optional treatments in the onboard wellness and spa area
- All planned activities are subject to weather and ice conditions
- Excursions and activities are subject to change
- Please ensure you can meet all entry and boarding requirements
- No gratuities are expected
Setting off from the White Cliffs - Dover, U.K.
All aboard at Dover! MS Maud is at the port, waiting to sail north to Norway´s magical landscapes to hunt for one of nature’s greatest spectacles: The Northern Lights.
Once you board the ship, pick up your complimentary expedition jacket, and settle into your cabin. Feel free to explore the ship before attending a mandatory safety drill. After a sumptuous dinner (the first of many) and a welcome toast by the captain, you’ll meet the expert Expedition Team. They’ll be your knowledgeable lecturers, warm hosts, and good-natured guides throughout your journey. Many of them grew up and live in the places you’ll visit, so they are passionate about sharing their homes with you. But first and foremost, they’ll keep you safe and sound. Their first priority will be to run through important health and safety information with you and your shipmates.
As the ship sets sail, we’ll pass by the White Cliffs of Dover and head up to the North Sea. Stretch your sea legs and explore MS Maud, your cozy home away from home. Weather permitting, let the salty sea air envelop you from the deck, or grab a relaxing glass of wine in the Explorer Lounge and Bar while the world passes you by through the panoramic windows. Your adventure to the Arctic under the Auroral Zone is officially underway!
Day at sea - At sea
This day at sea gives you all the time you’ll need to ease into your journey. Start enjoying the range of onboard facilities such as the hot tubs, the sauna, and the indoor gym. But you’ll likely also be striking up conversations with the Expedition Team members as well as other crew members and guests.
The Expedition Team will begin their series of insightful lectures over in the Science Center. Each member of the Expedition Team specializes in a different subject. You’ll see that they are walking, talking, treasure troves of stories and information. They’ll share their extensive knowledge about the places, history, nature, people, and natural phenomena we’ll likely encounter during this winter cruise along the Norwegian coast. Today’s topics might include the geology of the North Sea, the science behind the Northern Lights, or Hurtigruten’s history as a Norwegian national icon.
It’s not a sure thing, but you can expect wind and waves on the North Sea, which are known to be choppy this time of year. Our captain’s goal is to bring us into Bergen the next day, but Mother Nature is the boss and nothing is set in stone. This is all part and parcel of the expedition experience, adding extra suspense and excitement to your adventure. Rest assured, we’ll do our best to make the cruise as safe and smooth as possible, even if we have to be flexible and adapt our plans to factor in the elements.
The City of Seven Mountains - Bergen
In the morning, you’ll get your first glimpse of the Norwegian coast as small islands and mountains appear on the horizon. We’ll leave the North Sea and enter scenic straits and fjords on our way to the Hanseatic city of Bergen. Weather conditions on the North Sea permitting, we aim to arrive in Bergen in the afternoon. As our first port of call in Norway, we arrive at Bergen, one of the country’s most picturesque cities. Founded in 1070 A.D., Bergen was Norway’s capital for many years, and you’ll see that the city hasn’t lost any of its local character, heritage, and charm.
Your included activity in Bergen is an excursion to Mount Fløyen. We’ll hop on Hurtigruten buses from where the ship docks and drive to the Fløibanen funicular (cable car). The ride to the mountaintop takes just six minutes. The summit is over 1,000 feet up, and you can bask in stunning views of city and its surroundings: seven mountains and the sea. If we have time, we might also venture into the alpine forest here for a short hike.
Back in the center of the thriving and compact city of Bergen, spend time strolling along its cobblestone streets and alleyways. Don’t miss the historic UNESCO-listed Bryggen district, with colorful wooden houses along the wharf. This area dates back to the 14th century and now houses boutique stores selling Norwegian arts and crafts. Across from Bryggen is Bergen’s famous fish market, where you can savor a host of sights, sounds, and scents.
From the fjord to the mountaintop - Nordfjord & Loen - Anchored - Full Day
Start the day with a scenic cruise into the Nordfjord. Early in the morning, we’ll pass by Hornelen, Europe’s highest sea cliff. The fjord runs offs from Jostedalsbreen, the Jostedal Glacier, Europe's largest mainland glacier, and flows west into the ocean just south of the Stadlandet Peninsula.
Thanks to the small size of our expedition ship, we can take you through straits and channels that larger vessels can’t navigate. You’ll be that much closer to the fjords and mountains the Norwegian coast is so famous for. Our small ships also mean better access to small communities that few get to visit, giving you an intimate glimpse of the Norwegian culture and way of life.
As you might expect, today’s lectures center on Norway’s geology, including the formation of its fjords, mountains, and glaciers. You might also learn more about the Vikings who used to inhabit the region; their thirst for exploration still beats in the hearts of Norwegians today.
You’ll spot numerous old fishing communities located along the fjord that actually date back to pre-Viking times. One such place is Loen, and we expect to dock around noon. At the very heart of the Nordfjord, in the shadow of the mighty Jostedal Glacier, Loen is the perfect place to explore this gorgeous area.
We’ll use our small boats (RIBs) to land on a floating jetty, the starting point for the Loen Skylift. The cable car climbs over 3,300 feet, in just five minutes, to the top of Mount Hoven. At the summit, you’ll be treated to unforgettable views over the fjord. Gaze at Mount Skåla and Lake Lo to the east, with the Jostedal Glacier and Olden to the south. With this scenery as your backdrop, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in one of several optional winter activities on the mountain, such as snowshoeing or sledding. Time- and weather-permitting, you might also have an opportunity to do some exciting winter kayaking on the fjord.
At the Arctic Circle’s doorstep - At sea - At sea
Spend time in the ship’s lounge today, soak in a hot tub, or step out on deck. Whatever you do, don’t take your eyes off the scenery as we sail through Helgeland county and the thousands of islands of the lowland area. Count the peaks of the Seven Sisters mountain range, long fabled to be the petrified bodies of seven troll sisters caught out at sunrise. Let the Torghatten mountain amaze you, with its distinct hole right through the middle. Local legend has it that the mountain was a hat worn by the troll-king, which turned to stone when it was pierced by an arrow.
We have now reached the halfway mark of your expedition along Norway’s long coastline. You’re not far from the Arctic Circle! This point of the trip is an exciting time, as the farther north we sail, the greater your chances are of seeing the Northern Lights. This natural phenomenon occurs when charged particles carried by solar wind disturb the Earth’s upper atmosphere, creating mesmerizing ripples and rays. The end result is a cosmic light show of dazzling, dancing color. Our route along the Norwegian coast will take us directly under the Auroral Zone, a prime area for viewing the Northern Lights. We hope for multiple sightings of the Northern Lights in different locations.
The weather in northern Norway is noticeably colder, and the amount of snow will steadily increase as well, making the landscapes seem brighter. Depending on when you sail in the winter season, daylight hours will be short, and will shorten even more as you approach the Arctic Circle. It’s not complete darkness, though—you’ll be one of the few to experience the very romantic ‘blue hour’. This extended twilight can last several hours. As the winter sun glows just below the horizon, it bathes Norway’s fjords and mountains in a dreamy cobalt-blue light.
The Expedition Team will continue their onboard lectures, ranging from local folklore and fairy tales to the history of navigation, from lighthouses to satellites, along the coast. You might also learn about the concept of friluftsliv, the quintessentially Norwegian love of the outdoors. You can also pick up tips from the professional onboard expedition photographer about how best to capture the Northern Lights when they appear.
The enchanting Lofoten Islands - Svolvær, Lofoten
There are just a few places on Earth where you can sail north of the Arctic Circle during wintertime. The Norwegian coast is one of them The ship officially crosses the Arctic Circle sometime in the morning. In the tradition of Norwegian sailors, we’ll mark the occasion by inviting you on deck for a special ceremony. Exactly what happens is something you’ll just have to find out on deck!
Then we’ll approach the Lofoten Islands, one of the most spectacular locations in all of Norway—and maybe even the world. As you approach the archipelago, the sight of the massive wall of mountains and dramatic peaks rising up out of the sea is something you’ll never forget. Serene fishing villages sit nestled in sheltered coves, which are even more charming if dusted with snow—and especially with the Northern Lights swirling above, if we’re lucky!
Then we’ll sail along the Vestfjord to arrive in Svolvær in the afternoon. This is the largest town in Lofoten, with about 4,800 residents, many of whom still work in the fishing industry. There are shops and art galleries to browse along the seafront promenade, and rows of traditional rorbuer (fishing huts) to admire. You’ll likely spot the wooden racks called hjell dotting the shores of the town. These racks are used to dry locally caught cod, which then becomes tørrfisk (stockfish in English), which is prized as a local delicacy. Fishing is clearly an important way of life in Lofoten. The lecture for the day may focus on how cod helped build Norway into a country.
From the ship, it’s a short walk to your included visit to the multicolored Magic Ice bar. The former fish-freezing warehouse now displays a range of picturesque, selfie-suitable ice sculptures depicting life in Lofoten and Viking culture. Enjoy a signature drink to warm you up—served in an ice glass, of course! The expert Expedition Team might show off its local knowledge by handpicking a few spectacular hiking trails or snowshoeing areas as optional excursions.
The Battle of Narvik - Narvik, Ofoten
We arrive at Narvik in the morning. This town is spectacularly situated on a peninsula surrounded by three fjords: Ototfjord, Rombaken, and Beisfjord. The mountains also shelter the popular ski slopes from strong coastal winds. While Narvik is one of the northernmost towns in the world, some 137 miles into the Arctic Circle, the North Atlantic Current provides it a milder climate than some would expect.
Narvik traces its history back to the Bronze Age, and was a Viking settlement a while as well. Modern Narvik made its name as year-round port for Swedish iron mining, making the town a strategic target for Germany during World War II. Visit the Narvik War Museum to see exhibits and artifacts from the war, and learn about the heroism of the British and Allied troops who liberated the town from the Nazis.
In the spring of 1940, the British Admiralty launched Operation Wilfred to protect Narvik. In turn, this 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, the Allied forces launched an offensive to recapture Narvik. Mackesy refused orders from the Admiralty to bombard the town, choosing instead to prioritize the safety of the Norwegian civilians and wait for the snow to melt to initiate his ground attack. Two months later, the ensuing Battle of Narvik is considered to be the first Allied infantry victory in World War II.
Aside from the museum, you can enjoy galleries, shops, and restaurants specializing in seafood that is locally sourced from the fjords. Feeling adventurous? Try the reindeer! Ride the cable car for breathtaking views at the top of Mount Narvik, or go on an optional excursion, where you can hike, go snowshoeing, or kayak on the fjords. The day’s lectures will most likely focus on Narvik’s World War II history, or perhaps about the mammals of northern Norway.
The City of the Northern Lights - Alta, 70° North
Alta lies in the vast wilderness of Finnmark county, well above the Arctic Circle at 70 degrees north. Welcome to the turning point of your expedition and one of the northernmost towns in the world, with a population of about 10,000. We’ll arrive here in the early afternoon. The plan is to stay past midnight to stargaze and watch for the Northern Lights in Alta’s usually clear skies. The town is directly beneath the Auroral Oval, a zone known for consistent Northern Lights activity. If the heavens aren’t overcast and the conditions are right, get ready for nature’s most spectacular show...
You’ll learn more about the Aurora at the modern Northern Lights Cathedral in Alta. This titanium-clad building and its spiral belfry dominate the skyline here. It’s even more impressive when illuminated at night. An interactive exhibition here chronicles how Norwegian scientist Kristian Birkeland established Alta as the epicenter for groundbreaking Northern Lights research in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. You’ll also be treated to a classical music concert in the cathedral as part of your visit.
Troms and Finnmark county form part of the traditional territory of the indigenous Sámi people, whose livelihoods still revolve around semi-nomadic reindeer herding. In Alta, the Expedition Team may also speak about Sámi culture. Not far from Alta is Máze, a Sámi village located along the Kautokeino River, which may be visitable as part of an optional excursion. When more snow falls and deep winter arrives, Alta is prime territory for visits to ice hotels, dog sledding, and snowmobiling.
Gateway to the Arctic - Tromsø
It’s time to explore Tromsø, the capital of the Arctic. But before we do, we’ll be on the lookout for humpback whales out on deck or from the Explorer Lounge. These gentle giants are known to frequent the winter waters here, feeding on a smorgasbord of herring. The Expedition Team will also be on the lookout and alert you to any sightings.
We’ll reach the city of Tromsø around lunchtime and will spend the day and evening here exploring its captivating history, culture, and bold architecture. One of the most striking landmarks in Tromsø is the Arctic Cathedral, especially when it’s lit up at night. Its eye-catching, massive stained-class window and modern architecture are well worth seeing up close.
Historically, Tromsø was a frontier town visited mostly by hunters and explorers. It also served as a launching point for several Arctic expeditions. Today, the city has been called the ‘Paris of the North’, because of its international and cultural diversity. Browse its shops or try one of its many restaurants to sample the region’s fresh and locally sourced foods. Feel like meeting some of the friendly locals? Tromsø is home to the world’s northernmost brewery, Mack Bryggeri, which also runs Ølhallen, a lively pub filled with locals chatting and enjoying a pint or two.
Your included activity in Tromsø is a visit to the Polar Museum, which is housed in a converted 1830s warehouse on the seafront. You’ll enjoy exhibitions that cover the city’s heritage as a base for the famous trappers Henry Rudi and Wanny Wolstad. Wanny was the first female hunter in Svalbard. Tromsø also played a crucial role in the expeditions of legendary explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen.
Winter activities available in Tromsø include optional excursions with our Expedition Team on nature hikes, snowshoeing, and hunting the Northern Lights on a bus ride. 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.
Idyllic island life - Reine
In the morning, we’ll dock at the picture-perfect fishing village of Reine, tucked into the Lofoten Islands. This is where red-painted rorbuer cling to a string of islands beneath sharp granite mountain ranges. The nearly 1,500-foot-tall Reinebringen is one of the most distinctive peaks and is especially dramatic with a dusting of snow. This contrast of settings and colors makes Reine one of the most photographed landscapes in all of Norway. Cross your fingers that the Northern Lights are active above the village, which would be the cherry on top of this little slice of paradise.
After admiring the exceptional scenery in Reine, you’ll go on your included activity for today. A 30-minute bus ride will take you to Å, one of the best-preserved traditional fishing villages in Norway. The Norwegian Fishing Village Museum sits at the heart of this tiny village, and covers fishing’s importance and the development in Lofoten over the past 250 years. Explore at your leisure and you’ll discover that the village is a museum, and the museum is the village!
Later on, you’ll return to Reine, where you may have an opportunity to do some hiking with the Expedition Team, or even try some winter kayaking. The views you see here will certainly make those options tempting. Then rejoin the ship and marvel at the surrounding scenery, which is spellbinding whether it is bathed in the Northern Lights or not.
Science on the sea - At sea - At sea
One part of embarking on an expedition is knowing how to slow down and enjoy the moment. Take time to reconnect with nature and the world around you while you settle down in the panoramic Explorer Lounge, or soak in a hot tub out on deck. Either way, sit back and take in the serene scenery that rolls quietly by. We’ll be passing through the Vega Archipelago today, made up of some 6,500 islands, islets, and skerries.
There’s more to learn during lectures from the expert Expedition Team, and 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, which we encourage you to join. These include the Happywhale project, where your photographs help identify and track whales across the planet. You may also join the Globe Observer project, which combines your observations of clouds and sky conditions with satellite data. Not only will you be supporting the scientific community, you’ll also be gaining a better understanding of the world around you.
The hidden ‘Frozen Bay’ - Kalvåg, West coast island
We welcome you to the little fishing village of Kalvåg, situated far out on the coastline with the open North Sea to the west. Its name literally means ‘Frozen Bay’ in Old Norse. As its name implies, it isn’t always possible for our ships to land here. This will depend on the local weather and sea conditions at the time.
If and when you do come ashore here, you’ll discover one of the best kept secrets of the Norwegian coast. No other expedition ships visit Kalvåg, so you’ll experience an authentic slice-of-life community who will likely be thrilled to have visitors. Our captains have sailed these waters as part of our traditional Norwegian coastal voyages for decades, and always wished there was time to stop and show you more of this charming village. We’ve listened to their expert recommendation and that’s exactly what you’ll do on this expedition cruise.
Admire an open-air art exhibition and walk around Kalvåg’s collection of old waterfront buildings, ranging from restored wooden wharfs to warehouses for salting herring. Cozy-looking houses are clustered around the bay, with the reflections of their lights shimmering of the waters like candles. The wonderful winter atmosphere is even more captivating if the village is coated with a blanket of snow.
Exploring Norwegian heritage - Mosterøy, Southwest Island - Anchored - Full Day
Your final day of exploration begins with Mosterøy and Klosterøy in the morning, two of the many islands located around the city of Stavanger. The islands are relatively exposed to the sea, so our chance of landing ashore here will be based on the waves and wind.
Mosterøy is a lovely island, made up of a mixture of cattle pastures, horticulture, and cute neighborhoods. Klosterøy is less than one square mile, but home to the historic Utstein Abbey and the Utstein Church, which is more than 800 years old. The stone church is a protected site. It seats up to 300 people, but is only used for special occasions. The abbey is Norway’s best-preserved medieval monastery and is still rented out as a venue for concerts, seminars, and conventions. It’s even a well-known site for hosting conferences on emergency medicine.
The islands are connected by bridges and tunnels and all roads here lead to the city of Stavanger on the mainland.
This is the oil and energy capital of Norway, an international, cosmopolitan city that is as hip as it is historic. Learn more about Norway’s off-shore wealth on an optional excursion visit to the Norwegian Petroleum Museum, which was built as a replica of an oil platform and the only museum of its kind in all of Europe.
Few places in Norway have embraced the culinary scene as well as Stavanger. Stavanger’s creative cuisine has won it two Michelin-star restaurants and earned it the nickname of ‘The Food Pantry of Norway’. You can stroll down Øvre Holmgate and peek at the cafés, pubs, restaurants, and boutique stores. Or how about popping into the surprisingly fun and quirky Norwegian Canning Museum, complete with hands-on exhibits? You’ll never look at a can of tuna the same way again!
Modernity may thrive in the avant garde gastronomy and Scandi street art, but the city’s proud history is never far from sight. Take a walk around the Gamle Stavanger neighborhood, which features 170 of Europe’s best-preserved wooden houses from the 18th century. You can also see Norway’s oldest domkirke (cathedral), constructed in Anglo-Norman style around 1125 A.D. by an English bishop and virtually unchanged since the 1300s.
Headed home - At sea
The end of the expedition is on the horizon. By this stage of your journey, you’ll likely regard your fellow explorers as friends, after finding so much in common in your interests and passion for nature. Chat with your shipmates over a snack at the bistro-style Fredheim restaurant and share your favorite stories from the expedition so far. Enjoy drinks at the Explorer Bar over friendly banter and share stories of past adventures. You might even spot a few members of the crew and Expedition Team here too.
If you’d rather spend this last day at sea in quiet contemplation, just check out your camera roll—you’ll hopefully have multiple images of the Northern Lights to sift through. Or head to the gym to clear your mind and take stock of everything you’ve seen and experienced, then relax one last time in the soothing sauna.
Back to Dover - Dover
We pass the White Cliffs of Dover in the early morning hours and dock at the city’s harbor. After a final breakfast, the time has come to bid a fond farewell to the ship, the captain, the crew, the Expedition Team, and your new-found friends.
As you head ashore, you’ll take with you special memories of Norway in winter: wonderful fjords, fascinating towns and cities, friendly people, and the magical Northern Lights.
We look forward to welcoming you aboard again soon!