What if I tell you that there is a great option to travel other than flying, for those of you who hate waiting in line at crowded airports, or those who are tired of paying for extra luggage fees? Maybe “Freighter Travel” is something for you? Or maybe you care so much about your precious cargo, that you want to travel with your containers? Sit next to them on the voyage, sing to them when the waters are rough? I am just kidding of course, but Freighter Travel is no joke. 1 % of the worlds steamship lines offer cargo and passenger voyages.
When I first heard about this phenomenon I imagined what a unique experience it must be. You will be on a cargo vessel in the middle of the ocean with very small number of the passengers along with you, hanging out with the ship crew and not to mention tons of cargos or thousands of containers on board. Anyhow I found this a very different way to travel and did a little research on it. Here are couple good reasons for why you may want to try this one of a kind traveling experience:
First of all cargo ships may cover less touristic parts of the world compared to cruise ships, so you may get a chance to see more unique and untouched places.
Here is another good reason to be a Freighter Traveler. When you are passenger on a cargo ship you usually get to dine with the Captain or the officers; it sounds cool right? I mean on the airplanes forget about dining, you do not even get to see the pilot. You just hear his announcements time to time from the cockpit.
Also if you consider yourself an environmentalist, choosing the cargo vessels is the greenest form of traveling. The reason being that shipping is the greenest form of cargo transport and you will be considered a tiny part of the container ship’s cargo. Even though you are traveling on a container ship you do not have to sleep in a container… Accommodation is generally comfy in the passenger cabins, that are assigned each passenger. All cabins have windows, but don’t get your hopes up for a great view; sometimes the view can be blocked by the containers placed on deck.
Here the best reasons of all, in my opinion: You can bring AS MUCH LUGGAGE AS YOU CAN FIT INTO YOUR CABIN, so for people moving to another country or who like to travel with their entire wardrobe, this might save you a lot on shipping your things by air.
Now that your thinking Freight Traveling sounds kinda cool, you must be wondering how it works? Basically, you are paying a cargo vessel to transport you along with whatever they are carrying across the sea. You can sail from the US and Europe to China, Japan, and India in a container ship. Imagine having your own ship for yourself (+ five to twelve other passengers) instead of the 5,000 you would have to share a similar size cruise ship with.
Today’s passenger freighters mostly are German or French owned containerships, with international officers and crew onboard, offering accommodations for 4 to 12 passengers. They take maximum 12 passengers on board the vessel because ships are required to hire a doctor if more than 12 passengers are present. When on board the vessel you will be given a small cabin and you will have access to crew facilities, such as the lounge, a mess hall and common areas on the ship. You will be served three meals a day and bed linens and towels will be changed once or twice a week. The fare is paid daily and surprisingly it may not be the cheapest option to travel.
It seems very comparable to cruising however there is the downside: incredibly long transit time. Only people who can afford the time spent on these long trips, can enjoy a different and memorable travel experience. As these are cargo vessels they call more then a of couple ports for loading or unloading cargo, that may can take from 12 to 36 hours. You will need to have all visas for these stops in your passport to be allowed to travel. So prepare well!