"Are freighter trips considerably longer than regular cruises?"
The cargo aboard dictates a freighter’s schedule. This results in the somewhat unpredictable nature of freighter travel and the necessity to plan for schedule changes and possible extra days. Flexibility is the key to freighter travel.
"How do freighters compare in cost to more conventional cruise ships? Aren't they supposed to be cheaper?"
Yes, and no. It's true that freighters in general cost much less than conventional cruise ships, compared on a day-to-day basis: EURO100 per day versus the GBP200-GBP300 average per days now prevalent aboard popular cruise ships. But when you multiply the lower daily rate of a freighter by the 30 or more days that you'll be gone, freighter voyages still represent a sizable vacation investment. So if you're trying to get from Point A to Point B, a jet liner will probably be more cost effective than a cargo ship.
"What do you do on a freighter? Isn't it boring?"
If you are used to entertainment…the answer to such a question will undoubtedly be "yes!" Travel aboard freighters has never been for those looking for a casino and other around-the-clock activities. The goals of a freighter cruise are relaxation, the fascination of unusual destinations, and the camaraderie of a few generally well-read and perceptive fellow travellers.
"How many other passengers are typically on a freighter?"
Most freighters accommodate just 12 and often fewer passengers. There are also a few cargo liners in service, which carry medical personnel; this term suggests a more "people-oriented" ship with a passenger contingent of 75 to 130 (and no age limit, unlike 12-passenger ships).
"What kind of people am I likely to meet on a freighter trip?"
Freighters appeal to inquisitive, independent types, those who prefer not to travel as part of a large group. And because of the lengthy and often unpredictable nature of these voyages, you can expect a good percentage of retired folks, self-employed professionals, teachers, and professors on sabbatical.
Accommodations aboard a freighter are equal to - and often better than - the higher-priced staterooms found on deluxe passenger liners. Most are spacious outside cabins high above the water, with large windows rather than small portholes, private facilities, and comfortable sitting areas. Typically, you'll sail with no more than 12 passengers, and share a dining room with the officers.
What Is The Age Limit?
Most freighters have a maximum age limit of 79, although sometimes as low as 75. This rule is necessary because freighters do not have doctors onboard. Medical certificate would be required from your doctor normally within 30 days of departure.
No shipping company will accept children under 5 years of age and some will set a minimum of up to 10 years of age.
Where Can You Go?
Freighters travel Worldwide to countries that import or export goods.
Can I Just Book A Sector Of A Voyage?
It is quite common for shipping lines to allow one way bookings, or other lengthy sectors, on their longer voyages - you can either fly home, or take another ship back a few weeks or months later - but they very rarely allow bookings for small sectors of voyages, lasting only a few days.
For example, a ship which travels from the USA to Australia and back, on a round trip voyage of 40 days, would almost certainly let you book a one way voyage of 20 days - but a smaller voyage departing from Miami on a 14 day tour of the Caribbean, will almost certainly only take bookings for the complete round trip - you can't just hop between islands, spending a few nights onboard.
How Much Does It Cost?
Freighter voyages typically average about EURO100-125 per day, although some tramp voyages can be a little cheaper. There will also be port taxes & deviation insurance to pay, which will usually be added per person to the cost. The fee averages of about EURO 300.
What If My Voyage Takes Longer?
Shipping lines operate on the basis of a fixed price, based on the number of days. If your voyage is a few days shorter you will receive no refund, but if it is a few days longer you are not charged extra.
However, if there is a major alteration to your schedule and a large chunk of your voyage is lost, you will usually be offered a refund based on the number of days lost.
If you know exactly when and where you plan to travel, or you want to secure a particular cabin on a certain ship, it is best to make your reservation well in advance. Some ships can be booked up to a year in advance.
However, if you are more flexible with your travel arrangements, there are always ships with cabin space available heading somewhere – but we would advise you to give us at least 1 months notice if possible.
A deposit of 30% will be required at the time of booking and the balance payable approximately 90 days before departure.
Passport, Visa & Medical Requirements
Valid passport, with an expiry date that extends 6 months beyond your intended return date will be required. The visas and inoculations required will depend on your own nationality and your voyage destination.
It is your responsibility to make sure these are in place - if you do not have the necessary visa or inoculation certificates, you may be refused boarding.
Can I Work A Passage?
Definitely not - there is no way of getting a free, or reduced price fare by offering to work. This may have been possible many years ago, but modern insurance and union regulations now make this impossible - so just sit back and enjoy the voyage.
Making Phone Calls
Phone calls from the ship are possible via special shipping radio services. Please ask the captain, the signal officer or the first officer. It is ideal to take your own mobile phone although they don't function in every country or near the coast.
Making calls from the shore is cheaper. In many countries — telephone cards have gained acceptance (and have been displaced again by the use of mobile phones). There are only a few pay phones remaining. Telephone cards are obtainable at post offices, some big railway stations, tourist information or sometimes even at the stevedore agencies at the harbour. Some big hotels offer to non-guests the possibility of making telephone calls. Ask at the reception desk.
Do Freighter Have Stabilisers?
No, but freighters are designed differently to cruise ships, they run much deeper in the water - which means that stabilisers are not as necessary anyway. If a smooth voyage is something that particularly concerns you, it is best to travel on the larger container ships - the bigger the ship, the smoother the Voyage.
Can Disabled People Travel On Freighters?
Unfortunately, cargo ships are not suitable for handicapped passengers.
How Much Luggage Can I Take?
There is no strict luggage weight allowance. Normally it is 100 kg per person but passengers have to be able to handle it themselves.
Please advise at the time of booking if you are taking any special luggage so we can check with the Carrier if that would be possible.
What About Spending Money Onboard?
You will need cash for onboard purchases - usually US dollars or Euros - credit cards and travellers cheques will not be accepted.
What About Using Electrical Appliances?
Most of the ships operate 220 volts, European round 2 pin plugs and sockets.
Can I Ship My Car Or Motorcycle?
We are a passenger freighter booking agent and we are unable to arrange for cars or motorcycles to be transported. You must contact a separate freight forwarding company to arrange transportation of vehicles.
If you are booking well in advance, it is possible that you may be able to arrange transport for your vehicle on the same ship that you are travelling on as a passenger - as long as the type of ship is one that carries vehicles - but you should be prepared for the possibility that you may have to travel on different ships.
Can I Take My Pet?
Most Freighter Companies do not wish to carry pets for security reasons. At present there is only one Company that would allow animals on board their vessels. A deposit of EURO 1,600 would be required at the time of boarding and must be paid to the Master. It will be refundable on disembarkation only if no damage is caused to the cabin.
Alternatively please contact Pet Movers, specializing in pet relocation.
What Size Are The Ships?
The largest container ships can be over 1000 feet long and 100,000 tons. But the average size of the cargo ships is 68,000 tons or less.
Passengers and crew will both have the same standard of cabins. Most will be air conditioned with private bathroom facilities and have features such as a TV with VCR, mini refrigerator and sometimes a telephone for internal calls within the ship.
The ship will have a dining room and a TV lounge where passengers and crew will gather in the evenings to watch video films - most ships will carry a good-sized video and book library. It is also common to find exercise rooms and saunas onboard.
Many ships trading in the warmer latitudes will have a sea water pool.
What Are The Meals Like?
The quality of meals is not up to the lavish standards of cruise liners - but they are generally more than adequate, with some ships also providing free wine.
Meals are usually a set menu orientated to the crew liking. International Cuisine - Thai, Indian, Chinese or European dishes.
What Will My Cabin Be Like?
The cabins onboard freighter ships were originally intended for the officers and members of the shipping company, so standards of accommodation are very high. You will usually have a bedroom, a bathroom and a separate day room, with a large picture window instead of a porthole - however, your view may sometimes be obstructed by containers.
How about Gratuities?
Gratuities are not compulsory.
How Long Is The Ship In Port?
It varies, depending on the type of ship and how much cargo the ship has to load/discharge and also on the efficiency of the port itself - most container ships will spend around 6/12 to 24 hours in port - but some general cargo ships/bulk carriers can spend 2-3 days in port.
What Happens In Port?
When planning trips ashore, we advise passengers to take a guidebook/s for the different ports of call because some large freighter ships are often required to dock at container terminals, which can be located some distance from the city itself.
Most shipping lines have a local agent in each port. In most cases the port agent will be happy to arrange excursions for passengers; or you can, of course, simply take a taxi into town. Please make sure you are back in time, or the ship will leave without you!
How do I get to the ship?
Passengers must get in touch with the local port agent for instructions on joining the vessel 10 days prior to departure. Agent details will be provided once booking is confirmed. Please note some agents might apply a small fee of USD 30/50 for taking passengers to the ship.
Is there a shop onboard?
Yes there is a shop where you can buy drinks or toiletries on duty free prices. But please do not expect anything fancy or expensive. You would only find cheap brands on sale therefore if there is any special products that you use our advice would be to pack them in your luggage.
A small checking list for the passage:
Check your passport with regard to validity
Check visas if necessary
Cash/cards and cheques
Health insurance for the voyage
Seasickness pillsMedical certificate
Redirecting mail and newspapersTicketsBook hotel if necessary in the port prior to departure
Ship's address to be given to relatives/friends
Buy guidebook/s with places of interest for different ports.
Sunglasses, toiletries: soap, toothpaste, hair shampoo, etc…Sun protection, insect spray
Sewing materials and scissors, writing materials
Shoe polishA pair of shoes with non-skid soles
Holiday reading materials
For children: books and games, cassette recorder, painting materials
Photo /video films , batteries
Light headgear for tropical areas
Comb/brush, alarm clockA small pocket torchList of dialling codes for calls from abroad to your home country