Luxury and specialty cruise lines are increasingly dedicated to developing itineraries taking adventurous passengers to places light years beyond familiar ports of call, metaphorically speaking. However, Havila Voyages pushes this idea toward the literal with its astronomy-themed cruises departing March and October, prime times of year for stargazing.
Both cruises will physically travel between Bergen and Kirkenes, Norway, and back to Bergen throughout 11 nights aboard Havila Polaris. Daytime terrestrial adventures along the Norwegian coast include a variety of guided, authentic Scandinavian excursions ranging from dog sledding to trekking along the North Cape to exploring a snow hotel in Kirkenes. Through its partnership with the country’s Royal Astronomical Society, guest lecturers and on-ship activities steer guests to stars by night and deepen their understanding of the universe.
Using the pristine night sky as their classroom, featured lecturers John Zarnecki and Ian Ridpath discuss the study of astronomical exploration and share their insights about geography, the significance of the constellations and the Northern Lights. They, along with crew members, will be on hand to provide tips on how best to spot the Aurora Borealis and explain more about the how’s and why’s of the spectacle as it happens.
On the cruise departing March 2, English space scientist and Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal recipient John Zarnecki will apply his expertise on space debris, cosmic dust and impacts, and his experience as director of the International Space Science Institute in Switzerland and involvement in significant space probe missions to the on-board programming. Under his tutelage, passengers will take a deep dive into the Saturn moon Titan, the phenomena behind the Northern Lights, extraterrestrial life in the universe, red giants and white dwarfs, and comets. He will also share personal reflections from his 40-year career as a rocket scientist.
Ian Ridpath, a respected writer and lecturer in the fields of astronomy and space, member of the Royal Astronomical Society’s outreach team, and editor of the esteemed Oxford Dictionary of Astronomy, dedicates his time aboard the Oct. 30 cruise with discourse on the Northern Lights, stories behind the figures making up the constellations, the Apollo missions, the planets of our solar system, solar and lunar eclipses, and comets.