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Hurtigruten - Norwegian Coastal Cruises
Hurtigruten is so much more than your ordinary cruise ship. When you step onboard one of the Hurtigruten ships, you step onto a little piece of Norwegian history.
It may be one of the world's most beautiful cruise voyages, but it has also been one of Norway's most important transport links for over 100 years.
What is Hurtigruten?
All year, every day a Hurtigruten ship docks in one of its 34 scheduled ports along the Norwegian coast.
Eleven different ships sail the route Bergen-Kirkenes-Bergen in 11 days, so every port on the list gets a visit from a Hurtigruten ship twice a day – one from the northbound ship and one from the southbound ship.
It has been sailing like this since 1893, although the ships have been upgraded and the route changed slightly since then.
In 2009 Hurtigruten won the prestigious “Best Specialised Cruise” for the second time in 4 years at the Travel Weekly Globe Award, and has been named the World's Most Beautiful Sea Voyage by National Geographic.
What do you see along the way?
Hurtigruten was first and foremost set up as a way of connecting remote and northern communities with the rest of Norway, using the easiest and quickest way.
In mountainous and stretched out Norway, this was the seaway.
Nonetheless, Hurtigruten quickly caught on as a destination in its own right, as it passes some of Norway's most stunning sights, fjords, mountains, villages and islands.
Every day the ships will call in several ports, and you will have time to get off, have a look around or take part in one of their many excellent seasonal shore excursions.
On a round-trip on Hurtigruten you will get to see sights such as the breathtaking Lofoten Islands, the famous fjord country along the western coast, beautiful cities like Aalesund, Trondheim and Tromso, the historical port area in Bergen, the North Cape and much much more.
In wintertime Hurtigruten is an excellent spot to be for some northern lights hunting, and in the summer the midnight sun will light the way above the Arctic Circle.
History of Hurtigruten
In the year of 1893, the coastal steamer Vesteraalen set out from Trondheim bound for Hammerfest with founder Richard With at the helm.
Since then, the route has grown to Bergen in the south and the Russian border town of Kirkenes in the north.
Since 1936 there has been a daily connection between Bergen and Kirkenes, only interrupted by the second world war.
Hurtigruten During the War
Norway was invaded by the Germans on April 9th 1940, and particularly Narvik and Finnmark were important strategic points for the Russians, Germans and Brits.
During the war, Hurtigruten suffered great human and financial losses. But despite losing a total of 13 ships over the war years, the route more or less continued throughout, something which is a testament to the importance of the route for the Norwegian coastal communities.
Hurtigruten After the War
Since the end of the war in 1945, Hurtigruten has continued to grow, attracting more and more visitors form all over the world who wants to see the amazing Norwegian coastline.
New ships with greater comfort and facilities were introduced, and in 1964 the last steam boat, MS Lofoten, was taken out of service after serving the Norwegian coast since 1932.
In the 70's Hurtigruten experienced sharp passenger decline as commercial domestic airlines became a more popular choice of travel.
From 1993, Hurtigruten started introducing larger, more luxurious ships to cater for tourists, but they still have the feel of the old Hurtigruten ships.
The Hurtigruten Museum
In Stokmarknes (one of the Hurtigruten ports of call) you can visit the Hurtigruten museum and learn more about its history and ships.
You can also watch some historical Hurtigruten videos here.
Whether you spend a couple of hours onboard enjoying dinner, or join the whole 11 day cruise, Hurtigruten is a “must do” for people visiting Norway.
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