The Sundboat, or Sundbåten, is a trademark of the town and the Kristiansunders are very proud of its long tradition on the harbour. Like the cable cars in San Francisco, the Sundbåt is amongst the world's oldest public transport companies still in operation, established in 1876.
As far back as we know, people have lived on Kristiansund's islands. They lived off what they got from the sea. But it was the timber trade that created the foundation for the first growth. In the late 1600s, people learned how to manufacture salted and dried cod - "Klippfisk". This knowledge laid the foundation for over 200 years of prosperity.
The need for transportation between the city's islands has always been great and many had their own boat that they rowed to get across the sound. As the population increased in the 1800s, "ferry men" began to traffic between the sounds. They also transported goods.
This eventually became a good business, and the municipality decided to hire municipal ferry men. In the mid-1800s, the city's inhabitants began to want something better than sitting in a rowboat in all kinds of weather.
In 1875, merchants in the city established Kristiansund Dampbåtsamlag and on November 18, 1876, the company put its first boat into traffic. It was called Kvik. Soon after, two more boats followed, Rap and Fram. People called the three boats "Sundbåter". The company was a success from the start!
During the First World War, the company experienced financial difficulties. High coal prices and ticket prices that didn't stretch far enough led to Kristiansund Dampbåtsamlag giving up and the municipality taking over the operation and a fleet of 6 boats. The name was changed to Kristiansund Municipal Ferry Boat Company – "Kristiansund kommunale sundbåtvesen"..
From 1918, the company was managed by the port authority. In 2001, the Ferry Boat Company became a KF, owned by Kristiansund municipality, while the port authority became intermunicipal and no longer has anything to do with ferry boat operations. Kristiansund and Nordmøre harbor are important partners for the Ferry Boat.
At the end of April 1940, Kristiansund was severely damaged by German bombing and a ferry boat sank at one of the piers. During the war, the boats ran regularly to places outside the port. In the year 1943-44, the Ferry Boat Company transported 2,635,900 passengers, which is still the annual record.
In 1951, the company replaced the coin tickets ("poletter") with paper tickets, and the last steamboat was taken out of service.
In 1958, a new "Rapp" was built. It still traffics the harbor. For many years, the company lost passengers. The main reason was that people could afford to buy their own car. An increasing number of people also lived and worked outside the port area.
Fortunately, this trend has reversed in recent years. In 1997, the city's inhabitants chose the Ferry Boat as the city's "cultural pearl". In 2002, the Ferry Boat Company was awarded the Travel and Transport Industry's Environmental Prize for its environmentally friendly operations. Today the Sundboats yearly transport hundreds of thousands of commuters between the islands of Kristiansund.