Norwegian coastal route celebrates its 130th anniversary – open ships and anniversary party. Havila Voyages

Havila Castor at Bergen, May 2022On Sunday, July 2nd, the Norwegian coastal route from Bergen-Kirkenes celebrates its impressive 130th anniversary.

Havila Voyages, the latest addition to the historic route, invites everyone to a magnificent anniversary celebration on its two ships, while they are docked in Bergen and Kirkenes on the anniversary day.

It all started back in 1891 when the state’s steamship consultant, August Kriegsman Gran, proposed an express route by sea between Trondheim and Hammerfest. The purpose was to ensure quick and efficient transportation of passengers, cargo, and mail. At that time, it could take up to three weeks to send mail from Trondheim to Hammerfest in the summer and up to five months in the winter. With an express sea route, the travel time could be reduced to seven days, both in summer and winter.

The Nordenfjeldske Dampskibsselskab (NFDS) and the Bergenske Dampskibsselskab (BDS) were approached, but the shipping companies considered winter sailings in bad weather and darkness too risky, and the invitation for bids from the Ministry of the Interior in the autumn of 1891 ended without any bids being submitted.

In September 1892, the ministry issued a new invitation with adjusted content. This time, it was about a mail-carrying route between Trondheim and Finnmark once a week in each direction. The route would go to Hammerfest in the summer and to Tromsø in the winter. It was Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskap (VDS) that outlined the framework for the new plan, and on May 18, 1893, the state signed a four-year contract with VDS. This provided the company with financial support for weekly sailings throughout the year. Things moved quickly, and on July 2 1893 just two months later, the “DS Vesteraalen” departed from Trondheim on her first scheduled trip. The route had nine stops, and the ship arrived in Hammerfest on July 5, half an hour ahead of the scheduled time. Captain Richard With, who is now considered the father of the coastal route, was in command of the “DS Vesteraalen.”

“The Norwegian coastal route is an important part of our national identity and a symbol of our beautiful coastline. This anniversary is a recognition of both the coastal route and coastal population’s rich history and a clear signal that we take our important societal mission seriously,” says CEO Bent Martini at Havila Voyages.

Open ships in Bergen and Kirkenes

Havila Voyages (officially Havila Kystruten AS) is the 11th shipping company to sail along the classic coastal route, which now stretches from Bergen in the south to Kirkenes in the north. Appropriately, it is in these ports where Havila Voyages invites anyone who wishes to attend, to a magnificent celebration of 130 years in service to the coastal people.

On Sunday afternoon and evening, Havila Castor will be open to the public in Bergen, offering free coffee and cake to all guests. On deck eight, there will also be an anniversary party with light refreshments and a festive atmosphere. It will be possible to have dinner on board in the main restaurant Havrand and get a taste of Havila Voyages’ food concept, based on locally sourced and short-travelled food, served in a way that reduces food waste. There will also be a sales booth on board with great offers on trips with the coastal route’s most modern and environmentally friendly ships.

Havila Capella will be open in Kirkenes from the morning until early Sunday afternoon. Visitors there will also be served free coffee and cake, and the crew promises a great atmosphere on board.

“July 2nd will be a day of joy and a reminder of the importance of the coastal route for our country as critical infrastructure and a significant contributor to value creation along our extensive coast. We are proud and happy to have become a part of this history, and it deserves a celebration.”

In addition, Havila Voyages’ ships will simultaneously sound their horns on the anniversary day to mark the occasion.

“As an additional commemoration, both coastal route companies will sound their horns with all ships on the route at 09:30 on the anniversary day, three long blasts, to mark the first departure of the ‘DS Vesteraalen’ from Trondheim on July 2nd, 1893, at that time. We hope that all ships along the coast, in general, will join us in this collective celebration,” concludes Martini.

Coastal route shipping companies throughout history:

• Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskab (VDS) – since 1893 (merged into ODS in 1987, became OVDS)

• Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab (BDS) – since 1984 (sold the coastal route ships to TFDS in 1979)

• Det Nordenfjeldske Dampskibsselskab – since 1894 (company and ships taken over by TFDS in 1988/1989)

• Det Stavangerske Dampskibsselskab (DSD) – from 1919 to 1978

• Det Nordlandske Dampskibsselskab (NDS) – from 1945 to 1958

• Finnmark Fylkesrederi og Ruteselskap (FFR) – from 1988 to 1996

• Ofotens Dampskibsselskab (ODS) – from 1936 to 1987

• Troms Fylkes Dampskibsselskap (TFDS) – from 1979 to 2006 (acquired the ships of BDS, merged into OVDS from 2006)

• Ofotens og Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskab (OVDS) – from 1987 to 2006, established by the merger of VDS and ODS.

• Hurtigruten AS – established as Hurtigruten Group ASA by the merger of TFDS and OVDS, and changed its name on March 1, 2006. Changed to its current company name on April 26, 2007.

• Havila Kystruten AS – since 2021.