If You Don't See the Northern Lights on This Cruise, Your Next Trip is Free

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iStock

Even if you wait for the best time of year and scope out the perfect spot, seeing the Northern Lights in person is never a guarantee. The visibility of the aurora borealis on any given night depends on multiple factors that are tough to predict. But one cruise line is confident they can take you to the light show—so confident that they’re promising a second trip on them if you miss the Lights the first time, Travel + Leisure reports.

The Astronomy Voyage from Hurtigruten Cruises leaves Norway between October and March, traveling from Bergen to the Arctic town of Kirkenes and back. During the 12-day tour, passengers are treated to views of Norwegian landscapes and wildlife and, if all goes according to plan, the Northern Lights in all their glory. In its first 10 years, the voyage has never gone all 12 days without at least one clear look at the aurora borealis, but if year 11 marks a break in that pattern, customers have no reason to worry. Hurtigruten promises to send them on a free six- or seven-day cruise next year to give them another shot at the experience.

“We know that no trip to the Arctic Circle is quite complete without experiencing this highlight (pun intended!) at least once on your journey,” the website reads, “so your Hurtigruten experience will be one with zero regrets.”

When passengers aren’t sky-gazing on the deck, they can sit in on presentations from the ship's own onboard astronomer or visit the Tromsø Planetarium (the northernmost planetarium in the world) during one of the ship’s many stops. Admission to the planetarium is included in the roughly $1,970 ticket price, along with meals and access to an English-speaking tour guide. The aurora borealis guarantee is also included in the fare, but considering that the current season is projected to be one of the best for viewing the Northern Lights until 2025, it’s likely that no one will need to redeem it.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

Chernobyl Creator Craig Mazin Urges Visitors to Treat the Exclusion Zone With Respect

Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Following the success of the HBO miniseries Chernobyl, one tour company reported that bookings to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone located in Ukraine rose 35 percent. Now, series creator Craig Mazin is imploring the new wave of tourists to be respectful when snapping selfies at Chernobyl, Gizmodo reports.

A 2500-square-kilometer exclusion zone was established around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant shortly after its reactor exploded in 1986 and flooded the area with harmful radiation. The abandoned towns are still too radioactive for people to live there safely, but they have been deemed safe to visit temporarily with the supervision of a guide.

Chernobyl has supported a dark tourism industry for years, but thanks to the miniseries, photographs taken there are gaining new levels of attention online. News of influencers posing for irreverent selfies at the site of the nuclear disaster quickly went viral. Mazin tweeted:

Regardless of why people are visiting the site, being respectful in the presence of tragedy is always a good idea. It's also smart to resist leaving a tour group to snap the perfect selfie in some abandoned building: Tour companies warn that breaking rules and wandering off approved paths can lead to dangerous radiation exposure.

[h/t Gizmodo]

A Traveling Harry Potter Beer Festival Is Coming to Several U.S. Cities

If you’ve ever wondered what the alcoholic version of a butterbeer would taste like, you’ll soon have the chance to find out. A series of ongoing Harry Potter-inspired beer festivals are coming to cities across the U.S. in the next couple of months.

According to Rock Star Beer Festivals, which is organizing the event, Muggles and wizards alike will get unlimited samples of 20-plus beers. There will be plenty of adult butterbeer to go around, and for more daring souls, there’s Snape’s Lair of Secret Cider Potions. Is it actually cider, or could it be a polyjuice potion? Attendees will soon find out.

In June, the festival will be coming to Fresno, California on June 21 and New Orleans on June 29. In July, it will head to Philadelphia (July 13) and Boston (July 20). Tickets to the festivals can be purchased through Eventbrite or booked on Rock Star Beer Festivals’ Facebook page under the Events tab. Act fast, though, because tickets—which generally sell for $40 to $45 apiece—regularly sell out.

What else can you expect to see at such a magical event? Rock Star Beer Festivals says the venues hosting the festival will be “transformed into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” with guests being transported to the Great Hall, Diagon Alley, and, of course, the Leaky Cauldron. You’ll also get to snap photos with Hagrid and dance to music by the Sorceress Sisters and DJ Dumbledore. Just be careful not to drink and do magic, or you could end up having an accident à la Neville Longbottom.

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