If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path travel experience that’s both adventurous and budget-friendly, you might want to consider traveling on cargo ships.
Contrary to popular belief, travel on cargo ships can be a viable alternative to traditional cruise ships, offering a unique opportunity to see the world while getting a glimpse of the day-to-day life of seafarers.
In this article, we’ll explore how can you travel on a cargo ship as a passenger, the ins and outs of traveling on cargo ships, including the pros and cons, how to book a trip, and what to expect during your voyage.
What is Cargo Ship Travel?
Cargo ship travel, also known as freighter travel, is a mode of transportation where passengers book a cabin on a commercial cargo ship and join the crew on their journey. This type of travel allows you to visit new destinations, experience life at sea, and enjoy a slower pace of life.
Cargo ship travel has a long and fascinating history that dates back to ancient times. Throughout history, ships were primarily used for transporting goods, but as time passed, they became a popular mode of transportation for people as well.
In the late 19th century, passenger liners started to become popular, offering luxurious amenities for travelers crossing the Atlantic. However, as air travel became more common in the mid-20th century, passenger ships began to lose popularity, and cargo ships became the dominant vessels on the seas.
Despite the decline in the popularity of passenger ships, travel on cargo ships has continued to be a niche way to travel for adventurous and curious travelers.
It offers a unique opportunity to experience life at sea, interact with the crew, and explore destinations that are often off the beaten path. In recent years, cargo ship travel has experienced a revival, with more and more travelers seeking a slower, more authentic way to explore the world.
Discover the rich history of cargo ship travel and how it has evolved from its origins as a mode of transporting goods to a unique and authentic way to explore the world.
The Benefits of Traveling on Cargo Ships
When it comes to traveling, there are a lot of options available. From traditional cruises to budget airlines, the possibilities can be overwhelming. However, one option that often gets overlooked is traveling on cargo ships. While it may not be the most convenient way to see the world, there are a number of benefits to choosing travel on cargo ships for your next adventure.
One of the biggest draws of traveling on a cargo ship is the unique experience it offers. Unlike traditional cruises, where the focus is on entertainment and relaxation, cargo ships offer a chance to see the world from a different perspective. As a passenger on a working ship, you’ll get a glimpse into the daily routines of the crew, the challenges of life at sea, and the sights and sounds of the ocean.
Another major benefit of cargo ship travel is affordability. While luxury cruises and air travel can come with hefty price tags, traveling on a cargo ship is often much more budget-friendly.
Depending on the route and season, a one-way trip on a cargo ship can cost anywhere from $50 to $150 per day, with the average trip lasting between 10 and 30 days. The cheapest cargo ship travel is available in Northern Europe and the Mediterranian sea. There is plenty of regular short sea connections, for example, routes starting in Hamburg or Rotterdam to the UK or Norway are just 7 days and are under 1000$ per person.
Additionally, the cost of the trip usually includes meals and accommodations, making it a great value compared to traditional cruises or air travel.
Traveling on a cargo ship also offers a high degree of flexibility. Unlike scheduled flights or cruises, cargo ships typically have more flexible departure and arrival dates, allowing you to plan your trip around your schedule. Additionally, because cargo ships often stop at multiple ports along the way, you can choose to stay on board for the entire voyage or get off at any point along the route.
However, you should be familiar with the shipping industry which often meets delays due to unexpected reasons, mainly, during loading operations and weather. In most cases, containership lines are the least affected cargo ships.
Another advantage of cargo ship travel is the opportunity for cultural immersion. As a passenger on a cargo ship, you’ll have the chance to visit ports that are off the beaten path, getting a glimpse into local cultures and customs that you might not experience on a more traditional vacation. Whether it’s trying new foods, exploring local markets, or meeting new people, cargo ship travel can offer a truly immersive travel experience.
Finally, traveling on a cargo ship can be a more sustainable way to travel. While air travel and cruises are known for their high carbon footprints, cargo ships are a more environmentally-friendly option.
Because cargo ships are already making the journey regardless of whether or not there are passengers on board, choosing to travel on a cargo ship means that you’re not contributing to additional emissions or environmental impact.
How to Book a Journey and Travel on Cargo Ships?
Booking a journey on a cargo ship is relatively straightforward. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:
- Research cargo ship companies: Start by researching different cargo ship companies that offer passenger services. Look for companies that offer routes that interest you, and compare prices and amenities.
- Choose a route: Once you have found a few cargo ship companies that interest you, choose a route that fits your travel plans. Consider the duration of the journey, the destinations, and the time of year.
- Check availability: Contact the cargo ship company to check availability on your chosen route. Some cargo ships only accept a limited number of passengers, so it’s important to book in advance.
- Make a booking: Once you have confirmed availability, make a booking for your journey. Be sure to provide all required information, including your personal details, travel dates, and payment information.
- Prepare for your journey: Once your booking is confirmed, start preparing for your journey. Make sure to research the cargo ship you’ll be traveling on, including the conditions on board, what to bring, and what to expect during your journey.
- Enjoy your journey: Finally, sit back, relax, and enjoy your unique and unforgettable cargo ship travel experience. With its cost-effective prices, off-the-beaten-path destinations, and slow-paced lifestyle, cargo ship travel is a truly unique way to explore the world.
What Are Examples Of Companies Offering Traveling On Cargo Ships?
There are several companies that offer passenger services on cargo ships, here are a few examples:
- Freighter Expeditions: Freighter Expeditions offers passenger services on a variety of cargo ships, with routes spanning across the world.
- Cargo Holydays: France Cargo Ship Travel company offers a unique and authentic way to explore France and other destinations around the world via commercial cargo ships. With a focus on personalized service and cultural immersion, France Cargo Ship Travel is a top choice for adventurous travelers looking for a slower and more meaningful way to experience the world.
- Freighter World Cruises: Freighter World Cruises is an American-based company that offers passenger services on a variety of cargo ships, with routes spanning across the world.
- Sea Swift: Sea Swift is a unique travel company that offers passengers the opportunity to experience life on a commercial cargo ship while exploring the stunning waterways of the Coral Sea and the Torres Strait. Their flagship vessel, the MV Trinity Bay, transports vital supplies to several communities in Australia, providing a glimpse into the daily lives of locals. With its award-winning cruise operation and plans to expand to other remote areas of northern Australia, Sea Swift offers a truly unforgettable adventure for those seeking a unique and authentic travel experience.
- Cargo Ship Voyages: a premier provider of passenger services on travel on cargo ships, offering unique and affordable travel experiences to destinations worldwide. With a focus on safety, comfort, and personalized service, Cargo Ship Voyages is a top choice for adventurous travelers seeking a one-of-a-kind way to explore the world.
These are just a few examples of the many companies that offer cargo ship travel. When researching, make sure to consider your destination, budget, and travel preferences to find the best company for your needs.
Traveling on a cargo ship can be a unique and rewarding experience for those seeking a different type of travel adventure. With its cost-effective prices, off-the-beaten-path destinations, and slow-paced lifestyle, cargo ship travel offers a truly unforgettable experience. However, it’s important to be aware of the limited amenities, rougher seas, and long journeys that come with this mode of transportation. By properly researching and preparing, you can ensure that your cargo ship journey is a success.
How much does it cost to travel on a cargo ship?
The cost of cargo ship travel can vary depending on the route, duration of the journey, and the company you choose. On average, cargo ship travel can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per person.
Can you bring your family with you on a cargo ship?
Yes, cargo ship travel is suitable for families with children. Some cargo ship companies even offer special rates for children.
Is it safe to travel on a cargo ship?
Yes, cargo ships are equipped with safety equipment and trained crew members to ensure the safety of passengers. However, it’s always a good idea to research the safety record of a particular cargo ship company before booking your journey.
Can you work on a cargo ship while traveling?
Yes, some cargo ship companies offer work opportunities for travelers. This can include jobs such as working in the kitchen, assisting with cargo operations, or helping with maintenance tasks.
Are there any restrictions on what you can bring with you on a cargo ship?
Yes, cargo ships have restrictions on what passengers can bring with them. This can include restrictions on the number of bags, the size of bags, and the type of items that are allowed on board. Before your trip, make sure to research the restrictions for the specific cargo ship you’ll be traveling on.