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Old 01-26-2015, 01:08 PM
Location: Columbus, Ohio
124 posts, read 150,519 times
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Is it still possible to book passage on freight or merchant ships to other continents? I have heard for years of people who have done this, for a journey where they had plenty of time but not enough money for either an ocean liner or a plane. If it can still be done, are there Websites that match up potential passengers with ships and ports of call?

I know tramp steamers are pretty much a thing of the past, but I wondered if this economical method for trans-oceanic travel still exists.
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Old 01-26-2015, 01:13 PM
Location: MMU->ABE->ATL->ASH
9,126 posts, read 17,133,831 times
Reputation: 9980
I've seen Websites that advertise it,

But they are Not Fast (Days longer then a cruse ship would take), and generally cost more then flying, and well cost more then cruse ship.

Here's one => https://www.freightercruises.com/ but Google had a bunch...
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Old 01-26-2015, 01:30 PM
26,590 posts, read 54,583,712 times
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Yes, however I don't think it's going to be as inexpensive as you might hope. They tend to run in the $75-115 per day range.

Typically you'll get a private room and bath cabin with a window. Think Holiday Inn Express or Fairfield Inn as far as furnishings. It will be cleaned and refreshed with clean linens (including towels) once a week. There will be no daily service, no toiletries, no mini-bar, etc. You can usually BYOB as much as you can carry on without any corkage, and mixers are generally free of charge. There is also usually a small crew store stocked with cigarettes, alcohol, and toiletries which you may shop at--the items are usually at duty free pricing.

You will have limited areas on the ship you can access--typically your cabin, an area on the deck, and the officers dining room and any recreation room they have. Typically there is some sort of fitness facility, but seldom is there a pool. You will need to be able to entertain yourself, the closest thing to entertainment you might get is a crew member who can play a guitar who does so now and then.

Typically you will be required to carry travel insurance with health and evacuation coverage, and most will also require you to have a doctor sign off that you are in good health, as freighters seldom have medical facilities.

Typically the ports are in industrial areas, and you might have anywhere from a few hours to a few days in any port. Often you will be told to be back by a certain time, only to find out that departure is delayed but you can't leave because they will only have a few minutes notice when it is time to go. In some ports you might not even be allowed off the ship. You will be responsible for any visas you might need. Keep in mind that cargo ship itineraries do change, sometimes without notice.

Meals are served at set times and usually offer two or three options in terms of the entree and dessert.

A friend of mine retired at 55 and had traveled extensively before that. By the time he was 60 his spouse had passed and he wanted to try something new. He took his first freighter cruise, and has taken three each year since then, visiting all sorts of remote ports. The catch is that he's got all the time and money in the world, and does this because it's different.
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Old 01-26-2015, 02:42 PM
Location: Seattle
1,531 posts, read 1,313,104 times
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We took a freighter from Auckland to San Francisco some years ago, using these folks - Freighter Travel | Specialists in Cargo Passenger Travel

Maris is probably the biggest agency booking freighter cruises - https://www.freightercruises.com/

I also found these people but don't know anything about them - Freighter Expeditions - unique cruising adventures

We really enjoyed it, but you have to have the available time and not go into it with the wrong expectations - the dates aren't definite, the course might change (we were originally going to LA instead of SF but were diverted in the middle of the ocean at the direction of the cargo company.)

It's a totally different experience from conventional cruising - you're much more on your own, have (generally) the run of the ship including the bridge, and need to make your own entertainment. No midnight buffets or kitsch, and you also see the "operating" side of sea commerce - industrial ports, the routine of port calls and freight/container handling... we found it fascinating and would do it again in a heartbeat.

Our ship arriving in Auckland

In port in Suva, Fiji

Sunset mid-Pacific

The San Francisco harbor pilot arriving

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Old 01-26-2015, 03:32 PM
Location: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
15,504 posts, read 17,728,729 times
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That sounds awesome Gardyloo, and thanks for the pics. This appeals to me way more that a conventional recreational cruise.
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