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New Trends: Travel on Cargo Ships

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  • New Trends: Travel on Cargo Ships

    To travel by cargo ship or freighter is an increasingly appealing option for adventurous tourists that first developed in Germany, England, France and United States in the 1990s. In sharp contrast to the rough and industrial outward appearance a container ship has conventionally tended to project, a modern freighter can comfortably accommodate paying passengers and offer a pleasant and relaxing experience. Hundreds of modern freighters, carrying everything from fire engines to apples, are crossing the world's oceans and many of these are happy to take visitors along for the ride.

    A long way from the standards offered by commercial cruises hopping between exotic islands, the experience on board of a cargo is far more intimate and relaxed. No evening cabaret shows and room service are offered on board. No organized games or disco either. There may be a swimming pool or tennis table for those who feel especially energetic but mostly passengers should entertain themselves.

    To travel on a cargo ship is a unique experience in which arriving at the destination is as much a part of the trip as the destination itself. It is one that evokes the voyages of travellers in the early 1900s who spent days on the ocean in order to reach their destinations, as well as the stories of Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad, Herman Meliville, Jack London or ? more contemporarily ? Alvaro Mutis. The simplicity of being at sea is ? ultimately ? its main attraction.

    With freighters, possibilities for adventure are indeed endless. People can travel almost anywhere. Any place where global commodities are shipped is one where passengers can disembark and spend time soaking up the local culture before re-boarding.

    Flexibility is a fundamental requirement for all cargo passengers. On a cargo ship, freight comes first, not the passengers. Dates can change and even ports of call are not guaranteed.

    Life on a ship is slower than one is used to. Paying passengers are accommodated in guest cabins (which they have to clean themselves) and have access to most areas of the ship. They are surrounded by the everyday life of the vessel and its crew. Schedules revolve around mealtimes (three a day), which can be extravagant events depending on the chef. For example, some French companies are known for their high quality cuisine and table wine. The rest of the day can be spent as one pleases. Passengers can make their way up to the bridge and chat with the captain about sea navigation or schedule a tour with the head mechanic to see the vessel?s impressive technical insides.

    Cargo ship passengers have to be in good health. A medical certificate of general good health is a common requirement along with vaccinations like Yellow Fever. Tariffs vary from company to company. A common misconception is that if people are willing to spend an extended amount of time on open water they can score an inexpensive mode of transportation to their travel destination. Travelling as a passenger is in fact more expensive than the average airfare. The cost of a ticket includes the cabin, meals and a range of experiences that cannot be had anywhere else. Besides, plenty of luggage is entitled and all types of vehicles can be hauled on board.

    There are few places in the world a cargo ship can't reach. Some of cargo ship?s main routes and companies are briefly described below; main destinations and ports of call are in brackets.

    The Italian group Grimaldi, established in 1945, operates the following routes:EUROMED (Salerno, Ashdod, Setubal, Bristol, Cork, Southampton, Alessandria); ADRIATIC SEA (Monfalcone to Kooper through Piraeus, Alessandria, Izmir, Ravenna); EURO AEGEAN (from Salerno to Yenikoy through Valencia, Southampton, Hamburg, Bristol, Casablanca, Livorno, Civitavecchia, Beirut); SOUTH AMERICA (Emden, Hamburg, Le Havre, Bilbao, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires); WEST AFRICA CENTRAL (Hamburg, Antwerp, Dakal, Lagos, Abidjan). Tariffs and all information can be found at

    The French group Aranui (Polynesian archipelago: Tahiti and Marquesas Islands). Information can be found at

    The German group Freighters Cruisers (Norwegian Fjords, England, Scotland, Canary Islands, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Australia and New York). Information are available at

    Canmar, Canada Maritime, mainly operates in Europe (Mediterranean countries and North America). Information can be found at

    Maritime Way (several routes between Italy and Greece).

    The French group Mere et Voyages was established in 1994 (Italy, Greece, Slovenia, Marseille, Amsterdam, New York, Montr?al, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, China, Malaysia, South Africa, Antilles, Oceania). The world tour (96 or 126 days) is also offered at about nine thousand Euros per person. Information can be found at
    Emeritus Admin & Founding Member