120 years of coastal voyages
The coastline between Bergen and Kirkenes is over 2,400km long, and in the 19th Century almost all of it was home to rich fishing grounds. The maritime maps were unreliable and there were only a few lighthouses, especially in the north. This important seaway was lined with perilous reefs, small islands and narrow inlets, and it was essential that a safe trade route be established to link the southern and northern regions of Norway .
When the Norwegian government decided to create a connection between the north and the south, Richard With and his friend Anders Holthe took on the challenge of thoroughly mapping the seas along the coastline. In 1893, Captain Richard With's steamer, DS Vesteraalen, was brought into regular service along the coast of Norway, and Hurtigruten was established. The service offered several weekly departures, first from Trondheim to Hammerfest and later from Bergen to Kirkenes in only seven days. He called this important connection 'Hurtigruten' (the fast route).
120 years later, we still carry freight and passengers. Our captains use their extensive maritime expertise to ensure that guests and goods are safely carried from port to port. Today, as then, the Hurtigruten ships are a part of Norwegian coastal life. One of the fleet's 11 ships departs Bergen daily, sailing to Kirkenes and back in 12 days at an average speed of 15 knots.
When will we welcome you on board Hurtigruten?
The first Hurtigruten steamship, DS Vesteraalen, departed Trondheim for Hammerfest.
Captain With built a hotel at Spitsbergen, and Hurtigruten started "Sportmans Route" from Hammerfest to Spitsbergen with DS Lofoten.
The route expanded southward and included Bergen with three weekly departures.
Kirkenes, near the Russian border, became the northern turning point of the coastal voyage.
The first ship to feature running water in all cabins was added to the Hurtigruten fleet.
Daily departures with Hurtigruten's fleet of 14 ships began from Bergen.
Hurtigruten equipped all ships with sonar, an electronic logbook and a radio-tracking transmitter.
Several ships were put into transport services for the Norwegian government during World War II. 9 out of 15 vessels in the Hurtigruten fleet were lost.
The rebuilding of Hurtigruten was a high priority. New ships, now with diesel engines, were built and the route was back on track.
Seven new ships were added in 3 years. The entire rebuilt Hurtigruten fleet featured modern diesel engines. Hurtigruten carried 500,000 passengers annually.
Hurtigruten set up an express route to Spitsbergen in the summer months.
The new MS Vesteralen, MS Midnatsol and MS Narvik replaced older vessels in the fleet.
A new era began with the launch of the modern ship MS Kong Harald, 9 out of 11 ships were replaced by the end of 2003.
Two new ships, MS Trollfjord and MS Finnmarken, were launched. Hurtigruten spent its first season in Antarctica.
The new MS Midnatsol was launched.
The MS Nordstjernen turns 50. The OVDS and TFDS Hurtigruten shipping companies merged to form Hurtigruten ASA.
The new expedition ship, MS Fram, started service. Hurtigruten debuts a new route to Greenland.
MS Fram adds Spitsbergen to its unique Explorer portfolio, now sailing in polar waters in Greenland, Antarctica and Svalbard.
The northbound voyage by MS Nordnorge from Bergen to Kirkenes was broadcast from 16 to 22 June 2011 and lasted 134 hr, 42 min and 45 sec. This is the longest non-stop live television documentary and a Guinness World Record!