Friday, May 24, 2024

Already planning to see the next solar eclipse in 2026? What travelers need to know.

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Umbraphiles feeling the post-eclipse blues should start checking the expiration date on their passports.

The next total solar eclipse is set to happen on Aug. 12, 2026, over Greenland, Iceland, Spain, Russia and a small part of Portugal, according to NASA

In North America, only a partial eclipse will be visible, so if April’s event made you an eclipse chaser and you want to see totality, you’ll need to head overseas.

Here’s what you’ll need to know before packing your bags:

Do you need a passport or visa for the best destination?

The path of totality for the 2026 eclipse mostly goes through places Americans can travel visa-free with their passport, so long as they’re planning to stay for less than 90 days.

Spain, Portugal, Iceland and Greenland all allow visa-free tourist travel for U.S. passport holders.

Spain, Portugal and Iceland are also members of the Schengen Area, which allows for visa-free travel in much of Europe, meaning if you decide to make a multi-country trip out of your eclipse adventure, you won’t need to clear customs if you’re coming from much of the rest of Europe, either.

One major change for travelers to Europe from the U.S., however, is that electronic preauthorization will become a requirement beginning in mid-2025. The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) requirement will apply to all four open countries in the path of totality. 

Depending on the state of the Ukraine war, travel to Russia may or may not be an option for most Americans by 2026, so it’s unclear what the paperwork requirements will be by then.

Is it better to see it from the beach?

Beaches can be a great place to see the eclipse because there are few natural obstacles blocking observers’ views of the sky. The 2026 path of totality passes over beaches on Spain’s northern and southeastern coasts, as well as over islands in the Mediterranean Sea including Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza. The eclipse will also pass over coastal areas in Greenland and Iceland, according to the National Solar Observatory

Cruising Altitude: What it was like to see the eclipse from a plane

Will there be eclipse cruises or flights?

Almost certainly, although most operators have not announced specific plans yet. 

Cruise lines will also offer more viewing opportunities. Princess Cruises “has created a bespoke itinerary aboard Sky Princess to position the ship near Spain on that date,” according to a spokesperson for the line. The cruise will open for bookings on Princess’s website on May 23.

Cunard Line has sailings on its Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Anne vessels that will put passengers in prime spots to watch.

‘The ship can move’: Why you should watch next solar eclipses from a cruise ship

Holland America Line is also planning multiple sailings around the event, though details are still to be announced. “Guests have reacted positively to our 2024 eclipse cruises and with the next full eclipse in 2026 we plan to have three sailings in Europe that will align with the path of the eclipse,” Paul Grigsby, the line’s vice president of Deployment & Itinerary Planning, previously told USA TODAY in an email.

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