Posted September 4th, 2017, 09:23 AM
Last edited by Wembley Fraggle; September 4th, 2017 at 09:36 AM
I have just dusted off my long forgotten school French (my teacher would be so upset, I think I forgot more than I ever learned) and read through your Christmas 2010 HR cruise. Stunning. Simply stunning (coming from somebody who went through a week of winter stoms during her HR Christmas cruise, with gale force winds and the water splashing all up to the panorama lounge on deck 8).
Would we see NL in early October or is the best bet for that March? That is our quest and bucket list--to see NL.
If that is your quest and bucket list... a cruise, even a HR cruise, simply might not be your best option.
I agree with SarniaLo, on land you have more opportunities to move around. You might be better off taking a regular land vacation (Canada, Alaska, Iceland, Norway/Sweden/Finland), staying in the same spot for a week or two and either renting a car or taking excursions hunting the lights (with experienced guides who will know where there is the least light pollution and how to set your camera). Even combining a HR trip with a land tour might be a better option - you could take the northbound cruise and spend a few days in Kirkenes (then either fly back south or catch a different ship back to Bergen) or hop off in Tromsø, the Lofoten or Vesterålen on the way back south, as suggested. (HR offers "land adventures" you can add to your cruise, at least on the US website)
And even if you do that there is no guarantee. You might end up with a week of bad weather, winter storms, cloudy skies, rain, snow.
Early October will be nice, Norway in fall is lovely (if the weather cooperates). March will (most likely, unless winter comes as late as it did this year) mean early spring in the south and still winter and snow in the north. I took a train trip through Scandinavia in February/March a decade ago and Bergen was still cool late in February, norther Norway/Sweden was freezing (-14C/6F and three to four feet of snow in Boden, Sweden), Helsinki was bleak and Stockholm, which was my last stop, was definitely in the early stages of spring in late March (approx. 10C/50F). I love the light you have in Scandinavia in February / March. I did not see a single NL on that trip though. We saw one (!) on our HR cruise in December (it was green to the eye but lasted 15 minutes only). Iceland (Akureyri area) in the last week of August had amazing NL for a few nights in a row when we were there in 2014, greyish fog but across the whole sky and for hours, like dancing clouds. You just never know. You can have two weeks of bad weather or low solar activity or bad luck, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, you could run into bad weather and end up stuck in Harstad because all northern ports are closed due to storms. Or you have amazingly clear skies, high solar activities and five/six nights of lights.
No matter what, you will be stuck on the ship. No chance to stay longer in a place that is perfect for lights. No chance to move out of the city a bit to minimize light pollution (neither can you turn the ship lights off completely). No option to move from a to b where the weather might be nicer.