Hurtigruten, which means “Express Route” in Norwegian, is a Norwegian cruise, ferry and cargo operator. The company was founded in 1893 to operate voyages on Norway‘s western and northern coast between Bergen and Kirkenes. Hurtigruten ships sail almost the entire length of the country, crossing the arctic circle and completing the round-trip journey in 11 days. The trip has been described as the “World’s Most Beautiful Sea Voyage,” with stops in such places as Bergen, the Geiranger fjord, Lofoten Islands, Greenland, Canada, South America, Iceland, Svalbard, and Antarctica.
Hurtigruten was established in 1893 by government contract to improve communications along Norway’s long, jagged coastline. Vesteraalen began 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.
Beginning in the 1980s, the role of Hurtigruten changed, in part because a construction of a local airport network and road improvements; 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.
Hurtigruten is not your typical cruise line, at least not the way most Americans think about them. Originally conceived of as a ferry, delivering people, cargo and mail from town to town along the Norwegian coastline, Hurtigruten grew into a tourism vehicle for adventurers who wished to explore the less traveled areas of the world. Panzano developed a new brand narrative that spoke to adventure and epic stories, benefits you wouldn’t get from your typical booze cruise to the Bahamas.
The big sell to American tourists was the opportunity for adventure.
This wasn’t an adventure that would only appeal to a certain market in America.
For consumers looking for experiences and not an endless buffet.