- This article is an itinerary.
Hurtigruten (literally The fast route) is a ferry line along Norway's jagged coastline. It is sometimes called the world's most beautiful sea voyage. One should be aware that the Hurtigruten mainly travels along the very coast, largely sheltered by islands and skerries, the ships does not however cruise the famous fjords of West Norway. It is basically a trip to see the coast, not the fjords. During the summer season the Hurtigruten does a detour to Geiranger. In addition, the ship regularly calls at Molde and Trondheim, both cities sits on the shores of major fjords.
Originally, Hurtigruten was used as a means of transport for passengers, goods and mail along the coast of Norway. The ships still carry a limited amount of cargo, but today the ships resemble cruise ships more closely than the original coastal steamers.
The voyage is a simple way of combining lodging, eating, and transport. Unlike many other cruise ferries, Hurtigruten is not a place for drinking and partying. A one way trip takes 6-7 days, while the round-trip takes 12. This contrasts with Norway-in-a-Nutshell tours which are 1-3 days. It's also possible to purchase hop-on, hop-off tickets. Port stops vary in length. They can be as short as 5 minutes and up to 5-6 hours.
A museum, including parts and one whole, prior versions of the ship Finnmarken, sits in one port, Stokmarknes, which explains the history of the line.
Some ports' livelihood revolve around the daily arrival and departure of these ships (at all hours of day and night).
Hurtigruten is quite expensive; a full round trip from Bergen to Kirkenes and back will at cheapest cost almost 10,000 Norwegian kroner/person (€1200, USD1600) in the lowest season in a cabin with shared bathroom and without window. The per person price means that there will be many passengers in your party; if you're using the cabin yourself it costs more. If you're travelling in the summer season the price will be doubled, if you want a "nicer" cabin with window, add an additional 30-100% to the price. The best suite in the middle of the summer costs NOK72,000/person. On the upside, the ships are very clean and anti-social behaviour, noise etc. are practically non existent on board.
However it is possible to join the voyage only for part of the voyage. The cost for a such voyage is calculated partly for the distances travelled, and for the cabins. If you would like to cut the cost. This can therefore be done by only travelling during daytime, or stay onboard only one night. Most ships are capable of carrying cars (typically 40-50, excepting the two oldest ships). This could make possibilities for an interesting round-trip.
The dress code on the ship is casual, but remember to bring warm clothes if you want to walk on the deck. In northern Norway the temperatures can sink to +10°C in the middle of the summer, in the winter the temperatures are more likely than not -20°C or less. The wind from the Atlantic and the Arctic Sea will make it even colder.
The southern end stop for Hurtigruten is Bergen. The northern stop is Kirkenes, by the Norwegian-Russian border. It is possible to embark the ship on all ports the ship calls. The check-in (and ticket sales if you've not pre-booked) is onboard inside the entrance.
Visiting the ship
When the ship is in port it's possible to simply go see what the ship looks like on the inside. Ask the ticket inspector at the counter next to the entrance and you'll be given a temporary "port guest" ticket. You can eat and buy souvenirs on the ship, send a postcard with the ship's stamp, look at the city or town from sun deck and at generally at the interiors of the ship. But do remember to get out of the ship before it leaves, the tickets are scanned whenever embarking and disembarking so you can't simply sneak out in the next port. "Port guest" tickets are handed back after your visit.
Hurtigruten calls at these ports, listed from south to north:
- Bergen — The second largest city in Norway.
- Geiranger — likely Norway's most iconic fiord (only in summer, 15 Apr-14 Sep)
- Trondheim — Norway's third largest city with an impressive cathedral
- Brønnøysund — Situated close to the famous mountain Torghatten
- Ørnes — The first port North of the Arctic circle.
- Svolvær — access to the southern Lofoten archipelago
- Harstad — access to the northern Lofoten archipelago
- Tromsø — by far the largest city in northern Norway
- Honningsvåg — Close to Nordkapp, referred to as the Northernmost point of continental Europe.
- Kirkenes — gateway to Russia and Finnish Lapland
On each ship there is a souvenir shop.
- Hurtigruten - 11 day Voyage Guide (Nature - history - culture - legends), Bodø, Norway, ☎ +47 922 72 878. 24/7. A 422 page illustrated voyage guide book, giving step-by-step guiding for the entire journey. Includes maps, pictures, illustrations, special subject reports on, for example, Vikings, Laplanders, underwater landslides, trade along the coast in olden days. Highly recommended by several critics on amazon uk. Available in bookstores, online and onboard the ships. NOK398
ISBN 9788299720632 (German) ISBN 9788299720649 (English) ISBN 9788299720625 (Norwegian) NOK398.
- Hurtigruten 11 day Voyage Guide, Bodø, Norway, ☎ +47 922 72 878. 422 page voyage guide book (soft and wide cover for old-style laptop book reading) with a day-by-day and hour-by-hour description on everything you see and lots of things you don't see from the ship (such as shipwrecks, reefs, historical events, underwater tunnels etc). The book is descriptive and illustrated with photos, maps, city walks in the major ports, and feature articles on relevant subjects such as the modern energy industry, the trade along the coast in the old days, historical events, world war II history, lapp culture and so on. ISBN 978829720632 (German), ISBN 9788299720649 (English) and ISBN 9788299720649 (Norwegian). NOK398.
Aside from the cafeteria the ship's restaurant serves a lavish buffet breakfast (NOK135), lunch (NOK285) and dinner (NOK395).
The ships themselves are very safe and it is unlikely that anything bad will happen on board. Sea-sickness: yes, it's likely. A number of stretches are exposed to the full force of the Atlantic.
Drive back in a car. A full round trip Bergen-Bergen with ship one way, driving one way, would require two weeks.