In 1891, the idea of providing daily, year-round express boat service along the west coast of Norway was born, and the Norwegian Coastal Voyage Inc. NCV, now Hurtigruten, took up the challenge in 1893 when one boat successfully completed a run from Trondheim to Hammerfest. This started a communications revolution, giving business and coastal inhabitants better access to the outside world. Letters taking three weeks to reach Hammerfest from Trondheim during the summer (and up to five months during the winter) could now be delivered in just a few days. Over the years the route was extended from Bergen in the south to Kirkenes in the north, and Hurtigruten has had more than 70 ships in service. In the beginning ships were pulled from other Norwegian domestic or foreign routes, but they have since given way to vessels which have been specially constructed for the route, equipped with refrigerated compartments, roll on/off facilities, and vehicle holds to increase the freight and cargo service to the remote towns and farming communities along the coast.
From its beginning, it was believed that tourism could be an important part of Hurtigruten operations, giving people the unique opportunity to explore and experience this fjord-filled and spectacular coastline. The advent of the Norwegian Coastal Voyage meant that places such as the Lofoten Islands, the Trollfjord, and the North Cape became accessible to domestic and international travelers who wanted to experience the Land of the Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights. In time, the route became internationally known as "The World's Most Beautiful Voyage."
Today, the fleet has changed dramatically to accommodate even the most discerning travelers. Comfortable cabins, and a variety of panoramic lounges fill the ships. And the artwork on board the Hurtigruten ships is renowned. The people and scenery along this route have inspired well-known artists who have brought them to life on board. Because of the warming effects of the Gulf Stream, the weather along the west coast of Norway is quite mild and does not freeze. And, at the leisurely pace of 16-18 knots, you'll have ample time to enjoy the passing scenery, either out on deck or in one of the glass-enclosed panoramic lounges.
Frequently Asked Questions About Coastal Voyage Cruising
Q: Are Coastal Voyage ships like other cruise ships?
Though they are working ships as well as passenger ships, most of the Norwegian Coastal ships look and feel like cruise ships. Unlike traditional cruises, however, there is no organized entertainment on board. Mother Nature is the entertainer!
Q: What are the cabins like?
Cabins aboard the ships are comfortable and cozy. The sizes of the rooms are similar on all cabin categories (except suites). The majority of double cabins have 2 lower berths while some may have upper / lower (separate and cannot be moved together). All have private baths. Only suites (not all) have televisions.
Q: Are the ships suitable for physically challenged passengers?
The Contemporary class vessels have elevators and cabins specially equipped for physically challenged guests.
Q: Is smoking permitted on board?
There is one designated smoking area on board; however, smoking is not permitted in the dining rooms or cabins. Smoking allowed only outside deck, not allowed inside areas of ship, or public areas.
Q: Are there laundry facilities?
The ship is equipped with self-service laundry facilities including irons, ironing boards, and detergent, at nominal fee.
Q: Is there a doctor on board?
Although the ships don't have medical facilities or doctors on board, they are regularly in sight of land. Should a medical emergency arise, the reception staff will contact a doctor at the nearest port. In addition, onboard officers are trained in first aid and can provide emergency assistance.
Q: Are there travel guides on board?
You'll find a tour manager on board to clarify practical details. Also, as a Vantage customer, you'll have an experienced English-speaking Vantage Program Manager from the area to accompany you throughout your journey.
Q: What will the climate be like?
The west coast of Norway is warmed by the Gulf Stream, so you can expect temperatures to be similar to those found in New England. Though temperatures vary from south to north, average temperatures range between 20 and 35 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and in the summer between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Q: Will I experience the Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights?
The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) can be seen above the Arctic Circle during the winter months only. Unlike the Midnight Sun, which can be seen above the Arctic Circle from mid-May to late-July, the Northern Lights can be seen only when the right atmospheric conditions prevail.
Q: What clothes should I bring?
There is no dress code on the Hurtigruten ships. Most passengers wear comfortable, casual clothing that can be easily layered to accommodate the changes in weather. The average temperature in the far north in summer is just over 50 degrees. A warm sweater, hat, gloves, rain gear, warm jacket, and a wind breaker are suggested, and good walking shoes are vital. A helpful hint: you may want to bring an extra pair of waterproof walking shoes for comfort!
Q: What is the tipping policy?
Hurtigruten has an official non-tipping policy. However, if you feel that the crew members should be rewarded for providing exceptional service, this is entirely at your discretion.
Q: Is the onboard electricity 110 or 220?
All vessels have an electrical supply of 220 volts. An adapter and converter are required and are available at most U.S. department stores.
Q: What kind of meals are served on board?
All meals are included and are served at set times in the dining room. Meal times may vary if there are several seatings. If you love fish and seafood as the Norwegians do, you'll love the food on board. 7:00 - 10:00 am: A breakfast buffet with a wide selection of food 12:00 - 2:30 pm: Large lunch buffet with hot and cold dishes and dessert 6:30 - 9:00 pm: Three-course dinner.
Q: What about special dietary requirements?
The ship's staff does its best to meet special dietary requirements. All requests for special meals must be made at the time of booking, so that they can be passed on to the ship.
Q: What currency is accepted on board?
American Express®, Visa®, and MasterCard®. Most currencies can be changed at reception. Norwegian Kronor is the recognized currency onboard. A cruise card can be used for payment for extras and settled at the end of the voyage.
Q: Is there internet on board?
All ships offer internet access for a small charge. There are at least two internet cafe PC's on board and at least one wireless zone. Wireless coverage on board may vary from ship to ship and can only be guaranteed in the conference area. There is no internet access in the cabins. Please contact Reception if you wish to purchase access to the internet. Please note: Fees for Internet access aboard Hurtigruten ships vary for standard and premium access and range from $6-$50; fees subject to change as determined by Hurtigruten.
Q: Is there telephone & fax access on board?
All ships have payphones and fax. There is generally good coverage for mobile telephones.