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Norway ’s Aurora, Culture & Scenic Wonders

September 15 - 26, 2023

The striking fjords ringed by snowcapped mountains, deep blue waters reflecting the spires of medieval towns, vast herds of reindeer crossing the high Arctic, and the celebrated stories and song by the Sami people – such riches all paint a stunning picture of the rugged and beautiful culture and landscapes we will explore on our cruise through the fjords of Norway. And with luck, the night sky will be draped in a shimmering curtain of green, blue, red, and purple – the elusive aurora boreali ...Show more

Highlights

  • 6 nights of scenic Norwegian fjord cruising
  • 8 nights of dark-sky aurora viewing opportunities
  • Explore Europe’s most northerly point (71°N)
  • 3 days among the fascinating native Sami people

Landing at Bergen Airport (code: BGO) on your own schedule, claim your bags and make your way to Bergen’s historic city center, and our conveniently located hotel. After check-in, the balance of your day is free to explore Bergen’s quaint streets and avenues. This evening, join your TQ trip astronomer and fellow travelers at the hotel for our welcome dinner and a discussion about how to photograph the aurora.

DATE(S): Friday, September 15, 2023

MEALS: Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz

 

This morning we explore Bergen, the medieval capital of Norway. The rich history of the Old City comes to life at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bryggen. Other highlights include the historic fish market, the Hanseatic Museum and the Fløibanen funicular, which offers superb views of the city. Later in the day we board our Hurtigruten ferry ship M/S Nordkapp to begin our northward voyage along a coastline pierced by deep fjords and overlooked by snowcapped mountains. This evening, after we sail from Bergen, join our trip astronomer for the first of six nights of promising aurora viewing (weather permitting) from the ship’s upper deck. 

 

Under Norwegian Skies
By TravelQuest Astronomer Paul Deans

Norway is renowned for many things – magnificent fjords, fierce Viking warriors, the hardy Sami people herding reindeer across the tundra, legendary explorer Roald Amundsen, and two creative geniuses named Edvard, Grieg and Munch. And, of course, the celestial lights that often dance across the vast northern skies: the aurora borealis.

This unforgettable spectacle unfolds within the aurora zone, a pair of ovals roughly centered on Earth’s north and south geomagnetic poles. All of northern Norway lies beneath the northern oval, which means that on most nights a display of the northern lights will likely be visible – weather permitting, of course.

Solar activity is now on the upswing, so powerful coronal mass ejections (CMEs) will start to occur more often. When one impacts Earth’s magnetic field, the result can be a spectacular display of the northern lights. Lovely auroras also develop thanks to the frequent appearance of coronal holes – openings in the Sun’s magnetic field that let strong gusts of the Sun’s solar wind escape into space. When one of these gaps is pointed toward Earth, a typical outcome is a beautiful celestial lightshow. Even without CMEs or coronal holes, northern lights regularly appear over high-latitude locations such as Norway, as the solar wind continuously buffets Earth’s magnetic field. So, we’ll be monitoring scientific websites on solar and aurora activity before and during the tour – and naturally checking the sky each night during our Norway adventure. A final note on timing. For reasons not completely understood by astronomers, aurora activity peaks around the equinoxes. That’s why we plan to be under the dark Norwegian skies shortly after the autumn equinox in 2023.

DATE(S): Saturday, September 16, 2023

MEALS: Breakfast/Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: M/S Nordkapp

Arriving on M/S Nordkapp in Hjørundfjord, venture ashore by tender to the tiny village of Urke, ringed by snowcapped peaks of the Sunnmøre Alps. After dinner, join us for the second night of aurora viewing from the ship’s decks.

DATE(S): Sunday, September 17, 2023

MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: M/S Nordkapp

Set on Trondheimsfjord at the mouth of the Nidelva (“Nid River”), Trondheim is a city of architectural contrasts, blending historic wooden buildings and monastery ruins with colorfully painted wharfs and the distinctive red Gamle Bybro Bridge, which dates from 1681. Join our trip astronomer later in the day for a discussion on the science of the aurora borealis, followed by our third night of aurora viewing.

DATE(S): Monday, September 18, 2023

MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: M/S Nordkapp

As we explore Norway’s rugged northwest coast, the Nordkapp puts in at many towns and villages that are inaccessible by land. Then, in the early morning hours, we cross the Arctic Circle, the invisible line that encircles the Earth at 66° 33´N. Our destination is Bodø, set on the Saltstraumen, a narrow strait that boasts the strongest tidal current on the planet. In the evening join us for a traditional Nordic feast in the Lofotr Viking Museum, a replica of the largest Viking building ever unearthed by archaeologists. Enjoy reenactments from Norse history, then dine as guests of the Chieftain and Lady of the house before returning by coach to the M/S Nordkapp, now docked in nearby Svolvær. Later, join us for the fourth night of aurora viewing from the ship.

DATE(S): Tuesday, September 19, 2023

MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: M/S Nordkapp

The largest city in northern Norway, Tromsø, is alive with history and it is yours to enjoy today on your own. See the statue of Roald Amundsen (Norway’s most renowned polar explorer), as well as the monument to Arctic hunters and the town’s market square, which offers wonderful views of the famed Arctic Cathedral. The Polar Museum, located in an old customs house from the 1830s and featuring exhibits from Norway’s proud polar history, including artifacts from many landmark expeditions. Another of this fine museum’s highlights is a film of the Arctic experience featuring traditional hunters. Continuing your self-guided tour along Tromsø’s main street, don’t miss a stop at Ølhallen, the city’s oldest pub and a popular meeting place for fishermen, hunters, and polar explorers. Try a beer from the world’s northernmost brewery as locals share stories, old and new, about life above the Arctic Circle. After dinner, join us for the the fifth night of aurora viewing from the ship.

DATE(S): Wednesday, September 20, 2023

MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: M/S Nordkapp

Wake up to views of windswept coastal headlands and the vast sub-Arctic landscape beyond as you cross 71°N on our journey to Nordkapp (North Cape), the northernmost point in continental Europe. Join us up to the Cape plateau, which rises more than 300 m (1,000 ft) from the sea, where you can take in magnificent vistas – with superb photo opportunities from the cliff tops. After dinner, join us for the final night of aurora viewing from the ship’s decks.

DATE(S): Thursday, September 21, 2023

MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: M/S Nordkapp

You disembark this morning in Kirkenes, a historic Arctic port. Our local Sami guide welcomes you for a tour of town, followed by a lunch stop at a local Sami museum, we carry on through Tana bru following the Tana River, which flows northeast into the Arctic Ocean between Norway and Finland. Passing through the Northern Lapland village of Utsjoki, you arrive in the early evening at our home for the next two nights: Karasjok, where you can look forward to superb aurora viewing opportunities from the grounds of our hotel.

DATE(S): Friday, September 22, 2023

MEALS: Breakfast/Box Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: Hotel Karasjok

This morning our expert guide takes us to nearby Sami Cultural Park, where you’re immersed in the life of the Sami people (also known as Lapps or Laplanders) who’ve lived in this isolated wilderness region since prehistoric times. Our hosts share insights into their rich history, culture and spiritual beliefs – and serenade you in the intricate, chant-like singing style known as joik. Later, enjoy a guided tour of the regional parliament, whose main assembly hall is designed in a half-circle to echo the traditional Sami lavvu or tent. Your full day of cultural discoveries ends with dinner at Storgammen, a unique Lapland restaurant built of timber and turf. Sitting by the fire on reindeer skins, enjoying authentic Sami dishes, it’s easy to feel you’ve slipped several centuries into the past.

DATE(S): Saturday, September 23, 2023

MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: Hotel Karasjok

After checkout we continue our overland journey north to Kautokeino, stopping to visit a Sami village with reindeer, and also a gallery showcasing silver jewelry and other items crafted in both traditional and contemporary designs. After lunch we drive a scenic route, passing through a lovely gorge, enroute to Alta, the largest town in the remote region of Finnmark. Our hotel in Alta is conveniently placed next to the beautiful Northern Lights Cathedral, a sight to behold day or night.

DATE(S): Sunday, September 24, 2023

MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

ACCOMMODATION: Hotel Alta

After breakfast and checkout, it’s just a short drive to the ancient rock art site for which Alta is renowned. So far archaeologists have discovered more than 6,000 paintings and carvings, some dating back several millennia. The area with the largest concentration of images has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and transformed into an open-air museum. Join our rock-art expert, who will lead us on a guided tour through these ancient rock carvings. Then at midday it’s time to journey back to Alta and catch our return flight to Oslo, where you can enjoy a final evening at your leisure, either in the city or relaxing at our airport hotel.

DATE(S): Monday, September 25, 2023

MEALS: Breakfast

ACCOMMODATION: Radisson BLU Oslo Airport Hotel

It’s an easy post-breakfast walk through Oslo Airport to catch your onward flight, carrying with you memories of an incredible journey through Norway’s fjords, a deeper understanding of its indigenous past and, with luck, indelible images from the most spectacular lightshow on Earth.

DATE(S): Tuesday, September 26, 2023

MEALS: Breakfast

Optional Add-ons

If you’d like to arrive in Bergen a night early, TravelQuest has reserved a limited number of rooms at the Bergen Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz, ideally located in Bergen’s historic city center.  Cost per person $170 USD double occupancy, $240 USD single occupancy, including room, and breakfast.


TRIP LEVEL

Easy/Moderate – short to medium walks over sometimes muddy, icy, uneven, and/or hilly terrain, with rain and possibly snow, with easy to rugged travel conditions.

At TravelQuest, we want to be sure you find the trip that best suits your interests and level of fitness. Please email or call if you have any questions regarding the itinerary.

IMPORTANT

  • All tour prices, taxes and airfares quoted in this brochure are based on tariffs, currency exchange rates and costs that were in effect at the time of publication. Consequently, prices herein are subject to change. Due to fluctuations in global oil prices, a fuel surcharge may be added to your tour fee. You will be advised of details and costs prior to departure.
  • TravelQuest, working with our partners, makes every effort to follow the published itinerary. However, please keep in mind that it is subject to change depending on weather and other local conditions.
  • It is important to acknowledge that seeing the aurora borealis is Sun and weather dependent, and TravelQuest can make no guarantees that the Sun and weather will cooperate.

M/S Nordkapp - Welcome!

M/S Nordkapp is stylishly furnished with mahogany paneling, polished brass, and a selection of Norwegian contemporary art. Together with the extensive use of wood in the public areas, this creates a traditional maritime atmosphere.

 

Technical Specifications:

Year of construction 1996
Refurbished in: 2016
Passenger capacity: 691
Gross tonnage: 11,386
Length: 123 meters
Beam: 20 meters
Speed: 15 knots

 

Download Cabin Descriptions

M/S Nordkapp is stylishly furnished with mahogany paneling, polished brass, and a selection of Norwegian contemporary art. Together with the extensive use of wood in the public areas, this creates a traditional maritime atmosphere.

 

Technical Specifications:

Year of construction 1996
Refurbished in: 2016
Passenger capacity: 691
Gross tonnage: 11,386
Length: 123 meters
Beam: 20 meters
Speed: 15 knots

 

Download Cabin Descriptions

Prices are per person in US Dollars based on the number of guests in a room.

Double

Brochure price

$8325
Single

Brochure price

$9865

Important

TravelQuest, working with our partners, makes every effort to follow the published itinerary. However, please keep in mind that it is subject to change depending on weather and other local conditions.

All tour prices, taxes and airfares quoted in this brochure are based on tariffs, costs and United States dollar exchange rates that were in effect at the time of publication. Consequently, prices herein are subject to change. Due to fluctuations in global oil prices, a fuel surcharge may be added to your tour fee. You will be advised of details and costs prior to departure.


Room Sharing Program

If you are traveling solo, you can realize significant savings by taking advantage of TravelQuest’s Room Sharing Program, which matches travelers of the same gender so they can share twin-bed guest rooms in a hotel and aboard the ship. Although we will do our best to fulfill your request, if we cannot find a match, you will have to pay the single occupancy price.

Includes

  • 11-nights’ accommodation (including 6-nights aboard Hurtigruten’s M/S Nordkapp coastal ferry ship in outside P2D cabin)
  • Economy airfare - Alta-Oslo
  • Free WiFi internet access 24 hours a day, where available
  • All tour motorcoach transportation, as noted in itinerary
  • All meals as specified in itinerary, including coffee, tea and water
  • All sightseeing tours and admissions as noted in itinerary
  • Services of a TravelQuest Trip Leader Astronomer
  • Private lectures along with stargazing and aurora viewing sessions
  • English-speaking local guide for all included land-based activities

Not Included

  • Air transportation into Bergen, Norway (airport code: BGO) and departing from Oslo, Norway (airport code: OSL)
  • Arrival/departure transfers between airports and hotels
  • Meals and activities not specified in the itinerary
  • Gratuities to your local guide and driver (Days 8-11)
  • Baggage handling
  • Passports & visa fees, along with any required immunizations
  • Items of a personal nature, including Internet access, spa, and laundry
  • Services, non-included beverages, etc.
  • Highly recommended Travel Insurance/Trip Cancellation Insurance

Payments & Terms

  • An advance payment of $2,400 USD per person, along with the completed reservation form, are required to secure your reservation.
  • A second payment, payable by check or bank wire only, in the amount of $2,800 USD per person is due by March 1, 2023.
  • Final payment, payable by check or bank wire only, is due by July 17, 2023.

Cancellation Terms

  • Cancellations must be made in writing via email, fax or mail.
  • All advance payments, less an $1,100 USD per person service fee, are refundable until March 1, 2023.
  • Cancellations made between March 2 and June 16, 2023, will incur a $2,500 USD per person fee.
  • All advance payments become non-refundable after June 16, 2023.
  • Air cancellation terms are additional.

TRAVELER HEALTH

At TravelQuest we want to be sure you choose a trip that best suits your interests and level of fitness. Prior to making a booking, it is the responsibility of each traveler to thoroughly read the itinerary, and to acquire and understand all pertinent medical advice to determine whether they are in an appropriate state of physical health to undertake the trip. At a minimum, participants must be able to climb into and out of buses, vans and trains without assistance; to carry their own luggage; and to generally keep up with the pace of the trip. If you have any questions about your trip’s itinerary or its level of difficulty, please contact us prior to booking.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Travel insurance protects you from unexpected “what ifs”: What if your bags go missing? What if you have to cancel? What if you need medical assistance? TravelQuest highly recommends that you purchase a travel protection plan to help secure you and your trip investment against the unexpected. You can purchase this insurance on your own or contact our friends at Travelex, who are familiar with our trips and offer a selection of coverage options to suit your needs. To be eligible for the pre-existing medical condition waiver, Travelex plans must be purchased within 15 days of your initial deposit to TravelQuest. ALL Travelex policies must be purchased no later than 14 days prior to your departure date.

For more information on these plans or to enroll, click on the link below or contact Travelex Insurance Services directly at 1-800-228-9792 and reference location number 03-6043.

TravelEx Insurance

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