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8 Photos of the Northern Lights from cruise ship passengers that dazzle at sea

13 May 2024
Matt Hochberg

A rare sight for a great deal of the population took place when the evening skies were illuminated by the northern lights over this past weekend.

Northern lights as seen from a cruise ship

The Aurora Borealis lights were able to be seen thanks to a G5 geomagnetic storm that made its way towards Earth.

The lights were seen across many latitudes, and even on cruise ships.

Just like people all over the world, our readers on cruise ships snapped photos of the lights and it was a dazzling view.

Here's a look at 8 of the best pictures captured by stargazers sailing on Royal Caribbean ships.

Ovation of the Seas

Northern Lights on Ovation of the Seas
Photo by Darryl Luke

It's appropriate to start with a photo of the Aurora Borealis on a ship visiting Alaska.

This photo was taken on Ovation of the Seas during her Alaska sailing.

Read more: Royal Caribbean Alaska cruise guide

Brilliance of the Seas

Northern lights on Brilliance of the Seas
Photo by Ricky Gagley

This photo was taken on Brilliance of the Seas, and shows the "dancing" view the lights can take.

When a geomagnetic storm occurs, it's because high-energy particles from the sun interact with Earth's magnetic field.

Usually, the northern lights are not visible at lower latitudes. Usually, you need to be in the "auroral zone," the area within an approximately 1,550-mile (2,500 kilometers) radius of the North Pole.

Northern lights on Brilliance of the Seas
Photo by Nathan Goodlet

The lights were visible from a number of cruise ships, providing an incredible viewing opportunity since cruise ships are in the open ocean with no land to obstruct the view.

Wake view of northern lights
Photo by Mike Hibbard

Solar storms happen when the sun shoots powerful explosions of highly energized and magnetic plasma called coronal mass ejections toward Earth.

The bright colors of the northern lights are dictated by the chemical composition of Earth's atmosphere. 

Some of the dominant colors seen in aurorae are red, a hue produced by the nitrogen molecules, and green, which is produced by oxygen molecules.

Quantum of the Seas

Northern lights on Quantum of the Seas
Photo by Nicola McPherson

Another photo of the northern lights from Quantum of the Seas contrasts the lights with the beautiful Alaska scenery.

Anthem of the Seas

Anthem of the Seas northern lights
Photo by Craig Duncan

The Aurora Borealis is usually visible near the poles, but it's uncommon to see them in areas that are closer to the equator, which is why the lights were such a treat to be seen in other places over the weekend.

The lights were seen in parts of China, Europe and the United States.

Friday and Saturday's storms expanded sightings of the Southern Lights into New Zealand, Australia, Chile and Argentina.

Grandeur of the Seas

Northern lights on Grandeur of the Seas
Photo by Mandy Jesulaitis

The best viewing opportunities were Friday and Saturday, but experts say the effects of the geomagnetic storm started to pass.

Explorer of the Seas

Northern lights on Explorer of the Seas


Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost expert on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

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