Norway's coastline is one of the longest in the world, with the length recalculated in 2011 to account for complicated features like islets and fjords. All in all, Norway's coastline has 63,000 miles of twisting land - which, as National Geographic points out, would circle the world two and a half times if stretched out. To truly experience Norway, then, it's best to take in its coast - its largest and probably its most majestic feature. You could attempt to take on the coastline by car, but there are so many out-of-the-way places (and so few roads that would be useful) that it's best to do as Norwegians have done for centuries and navigate the coastline by ship.
As National Geographic notes, just because you take a journey by ship doesn't mean you won't see many different aspects of Norway. Fjords are vastly different than the islands you see throughout Norway, especially those far to the north. You can experience nearly a change in seasons as you travel north up the coast, from the lush fjords in the south to strange landscapes above the Arctic Circle.
A sea journey will also give you the opportunity to understand the relationship of Norwegians with their surroundings, from fishing villages to Arctic settlements. You can also see many other boats that go out to sea in Norway. Among them are fishing boats, offshore oil service boats, ferries, sailboats, barges and even yachts. If you're at all interested in who else is a seafarer in Norway, it's more than worth your while to watch the harbor when your ship pulls in, particularly in remote parts of Norway where very few visitors show up but the Hurtigruten.
All up and down the coast
Remarkably for such a long coastline, Norway boasts towns and inhabitants up the length of the whole coast. If you're interested in the Norwegian summer, it's recommended that you spend some time in the south during that season, where you can sun yourself and enjoy remarkably temperate weather. The western coast in summer affords opportunities to get in some adventurous activities through a water excursion or two, while the north can bring you very close to local wildlife (from eagles to whales).
If you pay attention to the coast as you travel up or down it, you'll see fishermen's cottages, most out of use or bed and breakfasts now, that show just how resilient Norwegians have been as a people. Imagine inhabiting a cottage so close to the sometimes-unwelcoming sea for many months out of the year - and then be grateful you're making the journey in a pleasant cruise travel ship instead.