Over a hundred years in coastal traffic

The steamer vesteraalen and the crew when they arrived Hammerfest after the first tour on the coastal route.

Havila Voyages is becoming part of this proud tradition on Norway’s most famous and historically significant coastal route.

The first paddle steamer sailed from Trondheim to Tromsø in 1838. Linking the country via steamships that could transport mail and passengers was seen as the responsibility of the state. In the mid 1800s, the route was privatised and state grants were also given, and this is how it still operates today.

Many different shipping companies have sailed the coastal route since then while the route has been extended and there are more regular departures.

Better and faster with new technology

One particular milestone was when Captain Richard With, who was also the shipowner, set out on the first express voyage in 1893. The tender requirements called for speedy travel, and Captain With promised to reduce sailing times significantly more than was required. He had been compiling detailed notes about the route to be sailed for a long time. By combining the latest technology of the time such as a more accurate compass and steering engine, he was even able to sail in the dark. This meant that Captain With could achieve the same sailing times on the route between Trondheim and Svolvær as we continue to do over 100 years later.

The new, coastal express route was born, and Richard With is often referred to as the father of Hurtigruten.

Captain and founder of the coastal route, Mr. Richard With. Photo from Hurtigrutemuseet Museum Nord

The new route became a success, and more ships were needed. Several shipping companies became involved, in operating the coastal route and at one stage there were four different shipping companies sailing the route. Over the years, the coastal route was extended and, from 1908, sailed the entire stretch between Bergen and Kirkenes.

The coastal route has had over 60 different ports of call. Today there are 34 ports on the world’s most beautiful sea voyage. You can read more about them here .

The steamer Vesteraalen on its very first tour on the coastal route i 1893. Photo from Hurtigrutemuseet Museum Nord
Many shipping companies

The coastal route has been in operation for over a century, and many shipping companies have served the people living on the Norwegian coast and then the many travellers who want to experience our beautiful coastal voyage.