Top Cruises to See the Northern Lights

Aurora display in the wake of the Hurtigruten cruise ship, Norway.
Steve Fleming / Getty Images

Finding the Northern Lights in countries like Norway, Greenland, and Iceland has never been easier with the influx of tour operators offering experiences into the dark for just this task. But there are also companies offering searches for the aurora borealis from the water. A Northern Lights cruise may sound too good to be true, but it's something you can experience.

Some cruises offer once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like dogsledding and hiking in Greenland National Park while others focus on the sights in front of you. All of them offer day excursions into several Arctic coastal towns. The offerings range when it comes to luxury amenities, some giving guest options for on-board entertainment with others offering more bare-bones room and board. No matter which route you choose, one thing is for sure: Seeing the Northern Lights from a boat is something that cannot be replicated.

Ahead, we pulled together five options ranging from Greenland, Norway, and Iceland. Read on and find the itinerary that's right for you.

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See Greenland's Aurora Borealis with Quark Expeditions

Quark Expeditions

Courtesy of Quark Expeditions

Quark Expedition's Arctic Express cruise is a 10-day journey from Reykjavik that will bring you along the shores of Greenland. On this trip, you'll get to take in the world's largest fjord—Scoresby Sund—from the water, climb mountains, hike Greenland National Park, and visit an Inuit community. And, of course, you'll spot the Northern Lights when it gets dark enough.

This is one of the more luxurious options when it comes to cruising around the Arctic, especially given the number of activities offered to guests.

Prices for this cruise start at $6,695.

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Take in Norwegian Fjords (and More) with Marella

You'll start and end your journey in Southampton, but the 15 days in between will be spent exploring Norway and its iconic history by boat. Cruisers aboard the Seeking the Northern Lights trip with Marella Cruises will make stops in Haugesund, Flam, Geiranger, Molde, Honningsvag, Alta, Tromso, Olden, and Stavanger, each with its own opportunity to get out and explore.

If you're looking for a way to experience quaint, Norwegian fishing villages, and see the Northern Lights, this is it. Marella brings you to some of the smaller towns, away from the crowds, for a more authentic experience.

Prices for this cruise start at $1,224.

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Explore Iceland and the Faroe Islands with Cruise & Maritime

Cruise & Maritime Voyages

 Courtesy of Cruise & Maritime Voyages

Cruise & Maritime Voyages will bring you from Liverpool to the Faroe Islands and Iceland on its 13-night journey. While the views are the showstopper on this cruise, guests will also get to enjoy a ton of on-boat entertainment like guest speakers, arts and crafts, cabarets, and delicious meals. If you plan on spending time on the boat instead of some of the excursions, this is a great option.

Prices for this cruise start at $1,449.

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Check Out Northern Norway with Fred. Olsen Cruises

Fred. Olsen will bring you along the small coastal villages of Northern Norway over 14 days during the wintertime. This Northern Lights cruise also includes a stop in Tromsø for the Sami National Day celebrations, a festival highlighting the local indigenous community. Travelers will also get to embark on a dog-sledding adventure from Alta.

There's plenty to do when you're not pointing your eyes to the sky in search of the aurora. The cruise ship offers onboard gyms, pools, restaurants, entertainment, and lectures for when you're spending time at sea.

Prices for this cruise start at $1,822.

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Take an Arctic Adventure with Viking

Viking Cruises

Courtesy of Viking

Viking Ocean Cruises offers a 13-day itinerary that will bring you from London to Stavanger, Bodø, Tromsø, Alta, and Narvik before ending in Bergen. This hunt for the Northern Lights also brings travelers to some of Europe's oldest wooden structures (dating back to the 17th and 19th centuries), the northernmost botanical gardens, and in front of the ancient rock carvings of Alta (which date back to 4200 B.C.).

Viking offers the most robust programming for off-boat experiences, which is something to keep in mind if that kind of thing is what you're looking for. Once back on board, you can expect all of the luxurious amenities that come with cruising on Viking.

Prices for this cruise start at $4,599.

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