1 Hurtigruten and Us
Our introduction to 'The World's Most Beautiful Sea Voyage'
What Hurtigruten is, how we heard about, our experience of 'The Fast Route' and a potted history of the service..

The Norwegian Coastal Steamer
Hurtigruten, 'the fast route' in Norwegian, is a service along the Norwegian coast. Every evening a ship sails north from Bergen. After calling at 32 ports it arrives in Kirkenes some 2,500 miles away, turns round and heads back to Bergen. There are 11 ships on this daily service.

We first heard about Hurtigruten around 1970 from an old man on a train who had made the trip. We decided we must go. To our shame all we did was talk about it until we heard that the Norwegian government might be removing subsidies from the service. That concentrated our minds and, convinced that we wanted an old ship not a new one, we sailed on MS Harald Jarl in May 1999.

Trip of a lifetime?
The trip was all we had hoped for, which after expectations built over 30 years, was quite an achievement! To attempt to repeat it could only lead to disappointment. After two weeks we convinced ourselves we had to go again in 2000 because that might be the last chance to make the voyage on a traditional ship.

May 2000 saw us on Harald Jarl again. We then heard traditional ships would survive at least another year. By now you may have realised we were hooked and you will not be surprised to learn we went again in May 2001. (Many people do get hooked. On our first trip we met one lady in her eighties who had made the round trip 20 times!)

So that was it. But then we heard MS Nordstjernen (even older than Harald Jarl) had been pressed back into service for the next winter. Convinced we ought to see the Northern Lights we sailed on her at the start of March 2002. Perhaps unsurprisingly on that trip we met a number of people who had been fellow-passengers on earlier voyages. We had always felt that we would not want to travel on one of the newer vessels but, badly in need of another fix of the Arctic in May, we eventually succumbed and booked for MS Narvik in 2004! More recently we went on MS Lofoten in April 2007.

Each of our six round trips on Hurtigruten has been thoroughly enjoyable, but we personally we feel the traditional vessels are far and away the best.

Potted history
The first (originally weekly) sailing was in July 1893 when SS Vesterålen under the command of Kaptein Richard With left Trondheim for Hammerfest. Bergen became the southern terminus in 1898. In the north the route was extended to Vadsø in 1907 and Kirkenes in 1914.

As frequency increased the route revolutionised previously slow and unpredictable communications along the Norwegian coast. Although tourist traffic had been important from the start it has become increasingly significant. However Hurtigruten still plays a vital role in maintaining communications to many settlements on its route.

More information
More information about Hurtigruten can be found on external links Page L1. Pictures taken during our trips are in the Hurtigruten Index and also the 2007 Trip Index.



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Updated 07 May 07