Witness a total eclipse of the sun

Hurtigruten offers one-of-a-kind adventure trips to Antarctica

solar eclipse

Photo courtesy of Hurtigruten
Experience the majestic spectacle of a total solar eclipse on a once-in-a-lifetime voyage.

Cynthia Elyce Rubin
The Norwegian American

Hurtigruten, Norwegian world leader in expedition travel, announced its 2021 total solar eclipse voyages, featuring antarctic itineraries on the industry’s most advanced and environmentally friendly ships.

On Dec. 4, 2021, a total solar eclipse will occur in the Scotia Sea around the South Orkney Islands, a group of four islands about 370 miles northeast of the Antarctic Peninsula. This phenomenon will not occur again for another 400 or so years. This is a rare chance, indeed, to participate in an once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“We will sail both the world’s first hybrid electric-powered expedition ship, the MS Roald Amundsen, and her sister ship, the MS Fram, to prime positions outside the South Orkney Islands aiming to see this spectacular natural phenomenon,” said Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam.

solar eclipse

Photo: Nils Lund / Hurtigruten
Discover the remote beauty of Antarctica aboard the world’s first hybrid electric-powered expedition ship, the MS Roald Amundsen.

During a total solar eclipse, the moon covers the sun completely for a few minutes. Day suddenly becomes as dark as night, and the temperature drops. Birds flying near the ship may also fall eerily silent, as if holding their breaths while the moment passes.

Early morning in the South Orkney Islands during its summer season means the sun will be hanging low on the horizon, having barely set during the night. Provided skies are clear, the ship’s passengers will be able to observe the eclipse from beginning to end, lasting just less than two minutes. There are a number of features to look for when viewing a total solar eclipse, including the red rim or chromosphere, while the sun is covered as well as the coronal flare at the top of the sun.

“This is a unique opportunity for a very limited number of modern-day adventure travelers to both immerse in the seventh continent and its icebergs, penguins, seals, whales, and birds, and at the same time have front-row access to an astonishing planetary display,” added Skjeldam.

Hurtigruten will enlist a team of experts to provide travelers with immersive lectures and insights on the eclipse while on board. The team will supplement Hurtigruten’s already extensive expedition team, consisting of leaders in scientific areas such as marine biology, glaciology, oceanography, and photography.

“We aim for all Hurtigruten sailings to be life-changing and transformational,” said Skjeldam. “These experts will further deepen and expand this unequalled possibility to experience one of nature’s most striking events.”

The ship’s science center serves as a hub where guests and experts meet over microscopes and other scientific equipment to learn about the wildlife and waters the ship is navigating. Guests are also encouraged to partake in different citizen science projects offered on board.

As part of your cruise, the expedition team will give out special-purpose solar filter sunglasses designed specifically to protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet and infrared rays. A professional astronomer will also be part of the expedition team for the full duration of the cruise, delivering a series of in-depth lectures on this extraordinary occurrence and providing insights during the eclipse itself. 

In addition, you’ll receive tips and ideas from professional onboard photographers on how to capture the spectacular event. They will also be sure to shoot the solar eclipse from more than one angle and even film with drones, if conditions allow. Later on, you’ll be able to access their footage and share it with your friends and family back home.

This eclipse will also be a little unusual, as the path of the total eclipse will move from east to west, which is the opposite direction to most other eclipses and a feature unique to observing it in the polar regions.

Should weather prevent us from observing the eclipse directly, you will still be able to experience a distinct moment of darkness for the duration of the eclipse. It will seem as if the whole world has stood still in reverence of this phenomenon. These are moments that you’ll never forget. 

Two voyages are scheduled: 

The Ultimate Expedition and Solar Eclipse: cruise to the Falklands, untouched South Georgia, and the South Orkney Islands before the ultimate exploration of Antarctica, 23 days beginning Nov. 22, 2021, on the MS Fram.

The Great Explorers and Solar Eclipse: from the Chilean fjords, Antarctica, and the South Orkney Islands before heading to the Falkland Islands, 18 days beginning Nov. 24, 2021, on the MS Roald Amundsen.

Contact your travel agent for additional information, or call Hurtigruten at (866) 679-8305.

This article originally appeared in the January 24, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Cynthia Elyce Rubin

Cynthia Elyce Rubin, PhD., is a visual culture specialist, travel writer, and author of articles and books on decorative arts, folk art, and postcard history. She collects postcards, ephemera, and early photography. See www.cynthiaelycerubin.com.