The Noorderlicht

A majestic vessel fit for any photography tour

When traversing through some of the world’s great oceanic wildernesses, sometimes it’s made all the more special by doing it in style. That’s exactly the spirit that the Noorderlicht, our German ship built in 1910, represents. It’s a three-masted schooner that spent many years serving as a light-vessel on the Baltic. That was until 1991, when it was bought by the present owners and given a makeover inside and out. But the Noorderlicht hasn’t lost any of its traditional charm, as you’ll see when it becomes the subject of many of your photographs in the voyage to come.

The Noorderlicht - Our Ship’s Specifications

Passengers: 20 in 10 cabins
Staff & crew: 5
Length: 46 meters (153 feet)
Breadth: 6,5 meters (22 feet)
Draft: 3,2 meters (11 feet)
Ice class: Strengthened bow
Displacement: 300 tonnes
Propulsion: 360 hp diesel
Speed: 7 knots maximum

Ideal for navigating narrow passages and uncharted territory

The Noorderlicht is relatively small compared to some of the other vessels we use for photography tours, but that means that we can offer a more versatile adventure, gliding effortlessly through narrow passages and around islands. The deck offers fantastic panoramic views, even when the sails are flying. The Noorderlicht is complete with two zodiac crafts, giving all passengers on board easy access to the land and opportunities to get closer to areas that would otherwise be too difficult to reach. These will be key when it comes to our wildlife photography, as the zodiacs allows us to move soundlessly through the water and around the coastlines.

The Crew

No ship is complete without a skilled crew, and the Noorderlicht is no different. Our nautical crew consists of three expert Dutch sailors, and we will also have with us a cook and an expedition leader. The sailors will take care of everything to do with our voyage, and will also be the ones to guide us ashore in the zodiacs. Because we have a relatively small crew, we actively encourage passengers to get involved and help out where needed, from handling sails to taking turns to man the watch during the night. Our crew is highly qualified and experienced, and will do their utmost to ensure that all passengers have a photography adventure to remember.

Sailing in Style

Your comfort is a top priority when sailing on the Noorderlicht, and as such all of our cabins are cosy and furnished with everything you’ll need during the voyage. In total, the ship has room for 20 guests across 10 twin cabins. Each cabin has its own sink with a wash basin for hot and cold water, but toilet and shower facilities are shared among the ship.

Your Fellow Passengers

Our photography tours aboard the Noorderlicht often throw up an eclectic mixture of travellers from around the world. But there are always the shared passions of photography, nature and adventure. Generally our passengers are between 30 and 80 years old, with the average being somewhere in the middle! In this part of the world and on this type of adventure, camaraderie tends to develop quickly, so you’re sure to make plenty of likeminded friends throughout the journey.

What to Wear

First of all, there’s something we need to get out of the way. Our expedition is informal and everyone is on board to be as comfortable as possible and have a once in a lifetime experience. Because of this, we recommend that you pack plenty of casual wear without forgetting practicality. Although the inside of the Ortelius is cosy and warm, out on deck and during expeditions you’ll be exposed to the elements, so you’ll need to come prepared to brave the cold. Plenty of passengers enjoy passing the time out on deck and taking in the scenery. If that sounds like you, then there’s one vital thing to remember: The deck is often wet and slippery, so waterproof, non-slip shoes are important. Make sure you also bring clothes that can be worn in layers, and a parka for when the inevitable shout of “Whales!” comes out over the tannoy. You’ll want to dash outside and onto the deck to see what’s going on without freezing.

Currency & Payment

All refreshments you purchase on board the ship when in the bar will be charged directly to your room. The same goes for souvenirs. We kindly ask that you settle your bill with us on the day before departure. You can pay by credit or debit card or just with cash in Euros or Dollars. Unfortunately we are not able to accept cheques of any kind. On board the Ortelius, the standard currency everything is priced in is the Euro.

Let There Be Light (and Charge)

You may be worrying about keeping your camera or other electronic equipment charged during the voyage. Worry no more! The ship has its own electrical supply, and all of our plugs are of the standard European variety. Passengers from the U.S., for example, will need to come ready with adapters.


While it’s customary to tip the crew on our expeditions, it’s obviously a personal choice made completely at your discretion. All tips are shared equally among the crew, and we suggest you give in either Euros or Norwegian Crowns.

Our Non-smoking Policy

For the safety and wellbeing of everyone on board the ship, passengers on the Noorderlicht may not smoke inside the vessel. A designated space for smokers will be made available on the deck.

Your Physical Condition

While you by no means need to be an athlete to make it through one of our photography expeditions, it’s important that you’re in good general health and capable of walking for a few hours each day. The expedition’s highlights will mostly be found during the excursions during the daytime, and although life on the ship isn’t very taxing, strolls ashore require more effort and exertion. Boarding zodiacs will become easier with practice and with the guidance of our crew, but a certain level of physicality is also required. It’s also important to remember that it’s highly likely we will be far from any emergency medical treatment, so if you have any doubts about your health let us know before you make your booking so we can advise on the best way forward.
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