Northern Lights Expedition from Dover to the North Cape
- Eight days above the Arctic Circle searching for Norway’s Northern Lights
- Visit three of the best winter activity destinations – Alta, Tromsø, Narvik
- 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 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
Your adventure begins - Dover
All aboard at Dover! MS Maud is at the port, waiting to sail north to Norway´s magical snow-covered landscapes to hunt for one of nature’s greatest spectacles: The Northern Lights.
If you have the time, take a walk alongside the iconic White Cliffs of Dover, which have become a symbol for England. One of the best places to do so is at St. Margaret’s Bay, which offers great views of the chalky coastline from its wide shingle beach.
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 the first of many delicious dinners and a welcome toast by the captain, you’ll meet your 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, and they are passionate about sharing their homes with you. But first and foremost, they’ll keep you safe and well. 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. If the weather holds, take in the sea air from out on 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!
Norway bound - 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 meeting members of the Expedition Team as well as other crew members and fellow 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 are likely to encounter during this winter cruise along the Norwegian coast. Today’s topics might include the geology of the North Sea or the science behind the Northern Lights.
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
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.
Once you’re back in the center of Bergen, 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 handicrafts. Across from Bryggen is Bergen’s famous fish market, where you can savor a host of sights, sounds, and scents.
The longest fjord in Norway - Outside Fjærland
In the morning, we sail into the Sognefjord, nicknamed the ‘King of the Fjords’, since it’s the longest and deepest in Norway. Stretching 127 miles inland from the coast, we plan to cruise deep into the fjord to the tiny hamlet of Fjærland.
Only 300 people live here. Ashore, you’ll discover this idyllic village with many charming old buildings. Fjærland is a designated Norwegian Book Town. Picturesque second-hand book shops and stands can be found all over the small village. Fjærland is not only about books, though.
This is where the Sognefjord meets Jostedalsbreen, one of Norway’s best-known glaciers. It’s the largest glacier on the European continent and has several smaller glacial arms stretching out in many directions, including Bøyabreen and Supphellebreen.
This makes Fjærland the perfect place to learn about how glaciers created Norway’s beautiful fjords, making a visit to the Norwegian Glacier Museum a perfect included activity for the day.
At this award-winning museum, designed by world famous architect Sverre Fehn, you’ll engage with hands-on exhibits explaining why glacier ice is blue and how the fjords were formed. You can even perform a few experiments with 1,000 year-old glacier ice and watch a panoramic film about Europe’s largest glacier.
At the Arctic Circle’s doorstep - At sea
Spend time in the ship’s lounge today, soak in a hot tub, and 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.
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.
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.
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 atmospheric ‘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 enchanting Lofoten Islands - Svolvær
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 beautiful when they’re 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 rorbuer (traditional 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), and 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 spirit to warm you up—served in an ice glass, of course!
The expert Expedition Team might also show off its local knowledge by handpicking a few spectacular hiking trails or snowshoeing areas as optional excursions.
On the lookout for the Northern Lights - Alta
Alta lies at 70 degrees north—well above the Arctic Circle. This is one of the northernmost towns in the world, with a population over 10,000. It’s the biggest city in the vast wilderness of Troms and Finnmark County, making it the perfect destination for winter activities.
We arrive here in the evening and will spend the night and the following day here. The town is directly beneath the Auroral Oval, a zone known for consistent Northern Lights activity. If the sky isn’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, located at the end of a charming pedestrian street. This titanium-clad building and its spiral belfry dominate the skyline here. It’s even more impressive when illuminated at night.
An interactive exhibition in the cathedral 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 concert in the cathedral as part of your visit.
Alta is also home to several dog-sledding teams, some of which compete in the biggest races in the world. Visit one of the dog-sled teams on an optional excursion. Or take a snowmobile tour, mountain hike, or ride a snow-equipped fat bike in the hills around Alta.
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.
At Europe’s edge - Honningsvåg
Start the day by arriving at the small town of Honningsvåg. You’ll visit one of Europe’s northernmost points as part of an included excursion.
The scenic bus ride from Honningsvåg brings you past small bays and tiny villages, then crosses a mountain plateau before arriving at the spectacular North Cape. At 71°10’21´N, it is just 1,300 miles away from the Geographic North Pole, with only the Svalbard Archipelago in between.
Stand at the cliff’s edge and gaze across the sparkling sea. The North Cape is likely the closest you’ll get to the top of the world. Snap the obligatory selfie at the Globe Monument before visiting the North Cape Hall for exhibits and a short film chronicling the cape’s history. Back in Honningsvåg, stroll along the pretty harbor, and check out the charming shops, houses, and church. Like many towns in northern Norway, fishing is the primarily industry and source of income here. Local restaurants offer fresh fish and seafood, with king crab on the menu all year round. This is the ship’s turning point and from here, we start our return trip southbound.
The 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 the abundant herring found here. The Expedition Team will also be on the lookout and alert you to any sightings.
We reach the city of Tromsø in the morning and will spend the day and evening 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. There, you’ll enjoy exhibitions covering 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.
Other 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.
The Battle of Narvik - Narvik
We arrive at Narvik in the morning. This town is spectacularly situated on a peninsula surrounded by three fjords: The Ofotfjord, Rombaken, and Beisfjord.
The mountains also shelter the popular ski slopes from strong coastal winds. Narvik may be one of the northernmost towns in the world, some 137 miles into the Arctic Circle, but thanks to the North Atlantic Current, it provides a milder climate.
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.
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.
In the evening we will continue our hunt for the Northern lights as we cross Vestfjorden into the south parts of Lofoten.
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 soon discover that the village is a museum, and the museum is the village!
Expedition day! - Mid-Norway
Today you will get to explore the area around mid-Norway windswept islands outside the coast of Trøndelag. The islands facing the North Sea stand in stark contrast to the sheltered fjords, as you will see from the small trees here, bent by the strong wind. Still, small communities choose to live here.
Our plan is to explore one of these islands, either by anchoring off one of the islands or sheltered in a small bay. Our small boats (RIBs) will take you ashore, where you can explore the local nature and culture.
Keep in mind that the coastline can be rough at any time of the year. If the weather prevents us from going ashore this far from the coast, we’ll find an alternative landing or port for the day and make sure you have the best experience possible, based on that day’s weather conditions.
Frøya is one of the possible islands we could explore. Many kinds of seabirds like to rest, nest, and winter in this area, including seagulls, cormorants, ducks, and sea eagles. If we get to go ashore, you may also see seals, mink, otter, hare, and deer.
You could attend optional excursions such as hiking or kayaking, and join the Expedition Team in lectures ranging from settlement patterns in Norway to how coastal navigation has evolved throughout history and oceanography.
Art Nouveau architecture - Ålesund
Welcome to the charming coastal city of Ålesund! This small city shines from the shores of a thin island chain. Its waterfront buildings, once wharves and warehouses, are now charming, colorful apartments painted in yellows and reds.
Join a guided walk through the cobblestone streets of Ålesund and admire the spires, towers, and ornate buildings rising up around you. Look closely and spot the variety of stone statues carved into the buildings
After a devastating fire in 1904, much of the city was rebuilt in the most fashionable architectural style of the time: Art Nouveau. Approximately 20 master builders and 30 Norwegian architects, educated in Trondheim and Berlin, drew inspiration from all over Europe when designing the many buildings that stand here today.
Ålesund is Norway’s fishing capital, and is also the site of the Atlantic Sea Park, recently given designated as Norway’s first marine science center. A spacious Humboldt penguin park is built into the coastal landscape at Tueneset, along with Europe’s biggest seal pool and an underwater observatory. The park’s Otter Island is home to three sociable and adorable otters. You can call them by their names: Nusse, Muffe, and Pia.
Exploring Norwegian heritage - Mosterøy
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 conditions.
Mosterøy is a lovely island made up of a mixture of cattle pastures, horticulture, and cute neighborhoods. To the west of the island is Fjøløy fort, a small coastal battery built by the German army in 1941 during World War II.
Klosterøy measures less than one square mile, but is home to the historic Utstein Abbey and Utstein Church, more than 800 years old. The abbey is Norway’s best-preserved medieval monastery, located amid beautiful surroundings. Parts of the monastery are hired out as a venue for concerts, seminars, and conventions. On arrival, you might just be greeted by guides in medieval costume.
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 to the Norwegian Petroleum Museum. It’s 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 culinary scene as well as Stavanger. Stavanger’s two Michelin-star restaurants have helped earn 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.
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.
Relax and unwind - 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.
Return to England - 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 will 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.
Dover is the gateway to the English countryside, the lush counties of Kent and Surrey, and beyond that, the melting pot of London. Consider visiting Dover Castle, said to be the largest in England, before you leave the area.
There is also a rare Roman lighthouse here, one of only three in the world and reputedly the U.K.’s oldest building. You can also take a tour of the underground hospital and secret World War II tunnels that run beneath the castle complex.
Whatever’s next for you, we wish you a safe onward journey and look forward to seeing you on your next adventure!