Hurtigruten: “See Northern Lights, or get a free cruise”

Line confident it can deliver sights of the lights on most cruises

Norwegian cruise line Hurtigruten claims to have launched an industry first with a promise that if passengers are not able to see the Northern Lights on their voyage, it will arrange another cruise for free.

Hurtigruten is the first company to offer such a promise. The aerial phenomena are often unpredictable and easily hidden by cloud cover. There is never any guarantee to be able to see the spectacular show. But the line is confident this year, as we are towards the end of an 11-year “solar maximum” phase when the Northern Lights are clearer than usual.

Philip Price, Hurtigruten’s acting managing director for the UK, said the move was designed to help the line compete with other operators and destinations, particularly Iceland.

“The Northern Lights are a very big part of our business – we do very well in the winter, but we are losing out to some operators and destinations and we believe we have the best chances of seeing the Northern Lights.

“We are the only tour operator who has ever promised this. For a while now, Icelanders have been claiming their country is the best place to see the lights, but that simply isn’t true,” he added. “We cannot of course guarantee that passengers will see the lights during their voyage – only Mother Nature can do that – but we can do the next best thing, which is to promise that if the lights prove elusive, we will give our passengers another opportunity to see them next year.”

However, to qualify for the offer, guests will need to book an 11-night Classic Round Voyage before November 30, for departure between October 1 and March 31, 2015. The line said ship crews would be “scouring the night skies for an appearance of the dancing light show”. If they appear, an announcement will be made to everyone on board.

Price said the line had taken advice from experts to see how likely a sighting of the Northern Lights will be this winter. “This is calculated, based on actuarial risk,” he said. “We know what the chances are of a Northern Lights occurrence being visible from the ship, and we are confident.”

TTG Digital / The Local

[pictured: Aurora Borealis outside the coast of Finnmark during voyage with MS Polarlys, courtesy Hurtigruten, © Ivan Mervillie]