The coastline between Bergen and Kirkenes is over 2,400km long, and in the 19th Century it was home to rich fishing grounds. This important area was very perilous, with many 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 first 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).
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Today, 120 years later, Hurtigruten still carry freight and passengers, so really are true working ships. The ships are captained by those with extensive maritime expertise to ensure that guests and goods are safely carried from port to port. Hurtigruten ships are a part of Norwegian coastal life and deliver people, packages and goods from place to place. 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.