The mysterious aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, is one of life’s most memorable sights.
This shimmering, curtain-like sky display can shift within seconds or glow unchanging for hours, often in fluorescent greens and pinks, sometimes purples and blues. North American Cree Indians called the aurora the “Dance of the Spirits”. In Europe in the Middle Ages, an aurora was commonly believed to be a sign from God.
A new 18-day fly-cruise-stay holiday from Cruiseaway (cruiseaway.com.au) gives the best chance you may ever have to witness this mesmerising sight. Narvik, Tromso and Alta are among the best places in Norway to see it. The Aurora Borealis is subject to weather and atmospheric conditions, so cannot be guaranteed.
Called ‘Aurora Borealis – The Icy Sky At Night’, the holiday includes a 14-night roundtrip cruise from London (Tilbury) to the north of Norway, aboard the classic ship Marco Polo. The cruise also visits Amsterdam.
The holiday includes a three-night stay in central London, as well as exploration of the magnificent Regency city of Bath in southern England, ancient Stonehenge and Salisbury with its soaring cathedral.
‘Aurora Borealis – The Icy Sky At Night’ costs from A$4899 twin-share per person, including flights from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne or Perth to London on Emirates. The holiday is valid for sale at that rate until 30 June 2012 or until it sells out, whichever comes first.
Emirates, renowned for its award-winning in-flight service, also has one of the world’s most generous baggage policies. It lets you take 30kg of checked baggage in economy class – that’s 7kg more than other airlines.
The holiday begins with your Emirates flight out of Australia on 10 February 2013. Arriving in London, you’ll stay for three nights in a hotel in the Kensington area. Time to see the sights, catch a West End show, maybe find a favourite cosy pub.
Then on south for a full day tour to Bath, Stonehenge and Salisbury. The huge 40-tonne rocks that make up Stonehenge were moved somehow, 5000 years ago, to this lonely, windy plain. Arrive in time to learn more about this eerie and iconic monument, source of much mystery and legend.
Then on to Salisbury to visit Britain’s finest medieval Cathedral and see the Magna Carta, resulting from the deal struck between King John and his barons in 1215 that has served as a cornerstone of democracy. Next, the city of Bath for a panoramic tour of the top sights. Visit the Roman Baths and enjoy lunch in a traditional English pub.
After a night in London, head to the port of Tilbury to board your ship, Marco Polo.
Rather than being a large “floating hotel” vessel with its decks closed in, Marco Polo lets you stroll the decks and feel the breeze in your hair. The ship carries no more than 850 passengers. Known for classic teak decks, distinctive dark blue hull and deep draft, Marco Polo is fully stabilised and air-conditioned throughout. Public facilities include the impressive Seven Seas Restaurant (offering two dining sittings) and the casually stylish Raffles Bistro. The ship’s five lounge areas include the theatre-style Ambassador main show lounge and the elegant Polo Lounge – the perfect venue for pre-dinner drinks. All meals and entertainment on board is included.
First port of call on the cruise is Amsterdam, a European masterpiece. Then a day at sea before entering Norwegian waters and calling at sheltered Molde. Crossing the Arctic Circle, view stupendous Svartisen Glacier.
Narvik provides breathtaking views across deep fjords in the crisp Arctic. Here, the Northern Lights often ripple across the night sky, filling it with ghostly phosphorescence. Visibility depends on atmospheric conditions. Other highlights include the town of Tromso, with its old wooden houses and stave churches.
An overnight stay in Alta, site of around 3000 prehistoric rock carvings, gives a further chance to witness the amazing aurora borealis. This place is charged with atmosphere – seeing the aurora here is truly magical.
Then on to the town of Alesund, an art nouveau masterpiece. Gables, turrets and ornate flourishes adorn pastel-hued facades.
Bergen, with its vivid harbourside fish and flower markets, comes next. A final day at sea gives time to reflect on the highlights of this stunning voyage before flying home to Australia.
For details, contact Cruiseaway 1300 887 590 www.cruiseaway.com.au