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Seeing the Northern Lights is one of those magical experiences on nearly every traveler’s bucket list due to the surreal way light moves in waves of green color across the nighttime sky.

Aurora Borealis, as it’s officially known, can only be seen above the magnetic pole of the Northern Hemisphere. Your chances of seeing them increase the farther north you are, which in turn makes Iceland an ideal place to try your luck at Northern Lights gazing.

Dreaming about seeing the Northern Lights is easy; figuring out the logistics of viewing those shimmering colors in the nighttime sky aren’t so simple. A Northern Lights cruise takes the stress out of planning, lodging, and even transportation to destinations like Iceland, Alaska, and more.

What is the best cruise to see the Northern Lights?

Colorful houses with mountain backdrop in Reykjavik, Iceland

On Celebrity, cruises to Alaska and Iceland just might yield sightings of Aurora Borealis. That said, even if you don’t see the Northern Lights during your cruise, there’s plenty to fall in love with in these exciting destinations, from incredible dog-sledding competitions to hiking along stunning fjords.

14-Night Iceland and Ireland Cruise to See the Northern Lights

Get up close to beautiful, picturesque landscapes on an Iceland and Ireland cruise from Southampton, England, which offers 14 nights of pure bliss on Celebrity Silhouette.

Scenic landscape view of Akureyri, Iceland

In Iceland, you’ll stop in Akureyri and overnight in the capital city, Reykjavik. Discover the wonders of Iceland’s nature by hiking along snow-capped mountains, marveling at enormous waterfalls, and exploring gurgling fields of Icelandic lava.

The best Iceland cruise excursions for someone who is hoping to see the Northern Lights takes place in Reykjavik, where you’ll have the unique chance to explore the scientific and cultural significance of aurora borealis at the Northern Lights Center, head outside the city for a chance to see them in person, followed by a jaunt to the small fishing village of Stokkseyri, where you’ll be welcomed with a traditional Icelandic lobster feast.

Alaska Cruisetours to See the Northern Lights

Celebrity shore excursion in Denali National Park during a Northern Lights cruise

Alaska cruisetours are the ideal way to explore the state’s stunning interior and extend your Alaska cruise vacation.

For the opportunity to see the Northern Lights, the Evening Aurora Pursuit is available on Alaska Cruisetours in mid- and late August on Celebrity Millenium. The Evening Aurora Pursuit is an optional land excursion available on different cruise tours from 10 to 13 nights, like:

Alaska Gold Rush Adventure Cruisetour

The 10-Night Alaska Gold Rush Adventure Cruisetour (2A Northbound) will take you deep into the interior of Alaska, where you can explore Gold Rush history. Stay overnight in Fairbanks and explore Denali State Park. You might lose track of time, since the sun shines late into the night.

Majestic Tundra Explorer Cruisetour

If you like to spend quality time in the cities you travel to, the 11-Night Majestic Tundra Explorer Cruisetour (4A Northbound) is ideal because it features two nights in both Denali and Fairbanks. You’ll stay in a cozy lodge and keep an eye out for Alaska’s “Big Five”: caribou, moose, bears, grey wolves, and Dall sheep.

Great National Parks Expedition Cruisetour

Spire Cove located in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

The 12-Night Great National Parks Expedition Cruisetour (6A Northbound) is perfect for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts, and offers even more time in Alaska’s breathtaking national parks like Denali and Kenai Fjords.

The Great Frontier Expedition & Grand Heartland Adventure

Cruisetours like the 13-Night Great Frontier Expedition (8A Northbound) and the 13-Night Grand Heartland Adventure (7A Northbound) show Alaska’s many majestic sides. Meet the eclectic locals in Talkeetna. Discover a wealth of knowledge on indigenous history. Board a glass-domed rail car, called the Wilderness Express, to Fairbanks, and soak up picturesque views every step of the way.

On cruisetours like these, you’ll traverse to towns like Seward, Anchorage, Denali, and tiny Talkeetna. Of course, sightings of the Northern Lights on your cruisetour depend entirely on natural circumstances, relying on weather, darkness, and a bit of magic.

While we can’t guarantee you’ll see the Northern Lights on your cruisetour, we can promise you’ll walk away with a deep appreciation for Alaska’s rugged wilderness, flora, fauna, and rich history.

What month is best to see the Northern Lights?

Night view of Godafoss Waterfall on a Northern Lights cruise

Aurora Borealis is more likely to be seen between September and March. Darkness is essential if you’re hoping to see the Northern Lights during your travels.

You’re also more likely to see them if you visit in colder months, as the most brilliant displays occur both in dark and cold environments. Because it’s a scientific phenomenon beyond the comprehension of modern science, you can only truly predict occurrences of the Northern Lights roughly two hours before they happen.

What do I pack for a Northern Lights cruise?

Family during a shore excursion on a Northern Lights cruise

For fall and winter, when sightings of the Northern Lights are more common, layering is key.

A large coat or puffer jacket is helpful, but the true secret to staying warm is layering. Thick wool socks and not airy fabrics (avoid cotton or linen) are important in keeping heat trapped in and closer to the body.

When in doubt, wear one more layer than you think you need. Remember: you can always take off another layer, but if you didn’t bring one to begin with, you might find yourself battling the cold.

Beanies, hats, hoods, gloves, and hand warmers are all good ideas, too.

Read: What to Pack for Iceland

Book A Cruise to See the Northern Lights

While seeing the Northern Lights isn’t guaranteed, cruises to Alaska and Iceland make for unforgettable vacations. Whether you’re traversing the wild terrain of the Last Frontier or spending your days exploring cities like Bergen and Alesund, we have an ideal itinerary for you.

Call one of our vacation specialists at 1-800-852-8086 or browse our cruise itineraries online.

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Free Vacation Planning Services