PROVIDENCE, RI — The Arctic provides the perfect canvas for the Northern Lights and prime opportunities for viewing can be found at sea, far from land-based obstructions. One company that helps travelers observe and understand this phenomenon is Poseidon Expeditions, the go-to company for Arctic (and Antarctic) expedition cruising.
This company’s annual round-trip cruise from Iceland to East Greenland in September – a time when the northern latitudes are dark enough for excellent sightings – is so popular that it has added a second replica itinerary. Departures in 2019 of Arctic Sights and Northern Lights are scheduled for Sept.15-25 and now Sept. 6-16 where good space is still available. Rates for this 11-day cruise aboard the 54-suite Sea Spirit begin at $8,395 per person, double occupancy.
The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) are a bucket-list phenomenon that transforms the Arctic sky with dancing, rainbow-hued ribbons. However, visitors to the region in the summer months may have difficulty seeing a performance because with the sun constantly above the horizon, the sky is too bright. Near the autumnal equinox and as more solar particles interact with the atmosphere and the nights grow longer, the colors explode. This makes September a prime viewing month. The good news is that Arctic temperatures aren’t yet as frigid as they are from January to March when, yes, the skies are dark but temperatures and weather conditions are inhospitable above the Arctic Circle.
Areas within the Arctic Circle at 66º North (65th parallel) have the best viewing possibilities. Those living in areas with low light pollution at 55º North (55th parallel) can also glimpse this beauty. On rare occasions New Englanders on the 45th parallel can get flashes of color as well.
As visitors come and go from Reykjavik (on the 64th parallel), and if the skies are dark enough, the Northern Lights may well play for them. But it’s on these September cruises that the magic occurs. Guests cross the Denmark Strait to a true Arctic wilderness, Scoresby Sund in East Greenland, crossing the Arctic Circle on the way.
Scoresby Sund, with some of the Arctic’s most impressive scenery, is the largest and longest fjord system in the world. Deep fjords and narrow channels that are flanked by ice-clad peaks up to 2000 meters high reach deep into the mountainous heart of Greenland. Tidewater glaciers create colossal icebergs that float with wind and tide throughout the fjord system. On shore fields of multicolored tundra are home to musk oxen and Arctic hare. This landscape – vast, open, and seemingly untouched since the beginning of time – is a hiker’s paradise.
Throughout this area are ancient Thule archaeological sites, historical trappers’ huts and modern Inuit hunters’ cabins. The Inuit village of Ittoqqortoormiit (a stop on the cruise) is the only permanent settlement in the region. The community boasts an excellent museum, a gift shop, a post office, an abundance of Greenlandic sled dogs, and of course the opportunity to meet Inuit people.
The days are filled with memorable excursions, presentations by on-board experts and enough stunning scenery to fill cameras and overwhelm emotions. Seabird viewing and whale sightings can be enjoyed from panoramic open decks as well as exterior stateroom windows and balconies. Guests have the option for an extra fee of $655 to participate in the Sea Kayak Club that brings the adventurous right to the rugged coast lines where few people have paddled. Photography is a free option with an expert photographer on board to give tips and answer questions. Click here to see a complete itinerary.
M/v Sea Spirit guests enjoy the freshness of a recent $1 million refurbishment of all 54 guest suites (square footage up to 463) and public areas. There are two multi-purpose lounges for educational programming and entertainment, a restaurant that can accommodate all passengers in one seating, a well-stocked library, and ample outdoor deck space to enjoy the polar landscapes and wildlife. Activities directed by a team of experienced polar guides and educators include Zodiac excursions, hiking and optional kayaking, along with informative presentations aboard. The ship’s expedition staff-to-passenger ratio of 1:9 is one of the best in the industry.
Included in the rates are one 1 pre-voyage night in Reykjavik at the Grand Hotel, group transfer to the ship on day of embarkation, deluxe shipboard accommodations, all meals on board throughout the voyage, plus tea and coffee station 24 hours daily. Rates also include all scheduled landings/excursions (subject to weather and ice conditions), leadership throughout the voyage by experienced expedition leader and expedition team, a branded Poseidon Expeditions parka (to keep), and use of waterproof Wellington-style rubber boots for shore landings. All port fees, group transfer to Keflavik International Airport (KEF) or a centrally located hotel for luggage storage upon disembarkation, pre-departure materials and a digital voyage log are also part of every package.
For inquires and reservations in North America, or to request a catalog, agents can contact the company’s Providence, RI, sales and reservation office at SalesUSA@poseidonexpeditions.com or by telephone at 347-801-2610.