In days gone by, the west and northern coasts of Norway were all but inaccessible. Before roads, rail or air travel, the only lifeblood for the brave few who called the area home was the Hurtigruten shipping line. Originally charting the waters, then sailing the route on a regular basis, the shipping route is a big part of Norway's history. Today, cruisers have their choice of vessels from new and shiny to old and "authentic". Whether opting to do the 12-day return trip from Bergen to Kirkenes or merely hopping on for a shorter trip, the Hurtigruten is a unique opportunity to experience a bit of Norwegian history, while taking in some of the country's most spectacular scenery.