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 Coastal Steamer

Hurtigruten is a daily passenger and freight shipping service along Norway´s western and northern coast between Bergen and Kirkenes. Sometimes referred to as the Coastal Steamer, Hurtigruten ships sail almost the entire length of the country, completing the round-trip journey in 11 days. The trip has been described as the "World"s Most Beautiful Sea Voyage" with highlights including the Hanseatic League city of Bergen, the Geiranger fjord (summer only), and the Lofoten Islands. The company has nearly 2% of the worldwide cruise market.

Hurtigruten was established in 1893 by government contract to improve communications along the long, jagged coastline. Vesteraalen commenced the first round-trip journey from Trondheim on 2 July 1893 bound for Hammerfest, with calls at Rørvik, Brønnøy, Sandnessjøen, Bodø, Svolvær, Lødingen, Harstad, Tromsø and Skjervøy. The ship arrived at Svolvær on Monday 3 July at 8pm after 35½ hours and Hammerfest on Wednesday 5 July after 67 hours. She was captained by Richard With, considered the founder of Hurtigruten.

Stokkmarknes is the birthplace of Hurtigruta and the center of Hadsel township with a population of approximately 3.700 inhabitants. The first Hurtigruteship "Vesterålen" leaves from Trondheim to Hammerfest in July 1893, Stokmarknes was the homeport. The Coastal Steamer (Hurtigruten) has daily departures in Stokkmarknes.

The Coastal Express Museum: Through life-like exhibits, paintings, photographs and old film clips, the history of this venerable old veteran of the coast that sailed Royal Route 1 – the coastal course – is retold. Along with the land-mounted coastal express ship “Finnmarken” from 1956, the museum provides a thor-ough insight into Norwegian coastal history and the importance of the coastal express for the population along our weather-beaten shores.

Beginning in the 1980s, the role of Hurtigruten changed; operating subsidies were gradually phased out and the operators put more emphasis on tourism. New, bigger and more luxurious ships were introduced, with attention given to hot tubs, bars, restaurants and other comforts. However, Hurtigruten still serves important passenger and cargo needs, and operates 365 days a year. The last two independent shipping companies, Ofotens og Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskab (OVDS) and Troms Fylkes Dampskibsselskap (TFDS), merged on 1 March 2006 as the Hurtigruten Group, a year later becoming Hurtigruten ASA. In addition to the coastal route, ferries, and high-speed regional express ships in Norway, the company operates cruises around Greenland, South America and Antarctica.

In November 2009, Trygve Hegnar bought 20% of shares in Hurtigruten ASA and was elected as the new Chairman of the Corporate Assembly. In March 2010 he bought a further 6.35% stake in the company.

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