Colorful Ship at Night
  • On Feb 29, 2024
    Diana from IN Asked Please note that experiences, policies, pricing and other offerings are subject to change and may have changed since the date of this answer.

    Can you see the northern lights on the Alaskan cruise?

    Ahoy there Diana, and welcome aboard planDisney!

    Getting the chance to set sail to high-latitude destinations can come with the perk of being able to take a peek at the northern lights dancing up in the sky above; I know this because I've experienced this myself on more than one occasion. In fact, the very first time in my life that I've ever glimpsed the aurora borealis was from the Forward Crew Deck on the Disney Wonder, where a handful of us stayed up very late after a long day in Skagway and were rewarded with faint bands that seemingly hung in the heavens as we gazed up in awe. 

    However though it may be possible to spot the northern lights on an Alaskan cruise with Disney Cruise Line, this is still a bit of a rare occurrence that I wouldn't recommend planning your voyage around. I began my career living and working at sea with itineraries along Alaska's Inside Passage and over almost a decade I've only been able to see the aurora on three occasions while sailing this route. Among the variety of factors that need to come together for a perfect night for an aurora sighting, having clear skies and darkness are very key to increasing the chances depending on the ship's position - and these cruises unfortunately don't currently sail any farther north where the odds may be greater.

    If there were two members of the Madrigal family from Encanto whose gifts would especially come in handy to help you out, it would be Mirabel's Tía Pepa to clear the clouds away or even Bruno's foresight to determine the best night to begin looking up. Luckily the folks who specialize in the realm of geophysics do an excellent job of being able to predict when aurora activity is greater and more likely to be seen, and among the more scientifically-minded or scholarly members of the crew we were able to use some fairly reliable aurora forecasts, including one from the University of Alaska Fairbanks to help us plan ahead. In fact, just this past week there was a burst of activity that extended down to areas around Juneau but unfortunately Alaskan cruising season doesn't quite start early enough to catch some of these active nights in the spring.

    With the itineraries currently available, choosing your voyage carefully and aiming to cruise as close as possible to the end of the season heading into autumn can increase your chances as we have never had any luck seeing the aurora during the summer. Unlike with occasional whale sightings on Alaskan itineraries where your captain may make an announcement for everyone on board to look out Port or Starboard, aurora spotting isn't something that is communicated to guests unless you encounter a particularly keen Crew Member who's been studying the forecast but sometimes the residents in certain Ports of Call may give you a heads up if they're looking forward to a clear night with some activity. When everything aligns and you have the opportunity to see even a faint glow on the horizon to brilliant bands and curtains that seemingly jump around in the night sky, there's really no other way to describe it beyond something simply magical.

    Here's hoping you can see this for yourself one day on an upcoming adventure!
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Meet the Panelist: Prince, Ontario

Hello, Bonjour, Aloha and Ahoy there! As a performer and world explorer who's been to all of the Disney theme parks around the globe, I'm always happy to provide my best adventuring advice and knowledge to navigate your way to all of the greatest snacks, attractions and entertainment on land and at sea. Find me featured on the planDisney Podcast and on the Disney Parks Blog, discussing Disney Eats at festivals and beyond, holiday events at Walt Disney World Resort and planning my Disney Fairy Tale Wedding! Learn More About Prince

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