Would you enjoy crossing the ocean on a ferry, yacht, or cruise ship? If so, why not try something more original—a cargo ship! Yes, you read that right; you don’t have to be a stowaway or a member of the ship’s crew to travel on a cargo ship.
Many international shipping companies, such as CMA-CGM, OPDR, and Bank Line now offer the opportunity to travel as a passenger on their cargo ships.
Shipping companies do business across the globe, so your options for traveling the world are quite extensive.
Possibilities as endless as the ocean! Ships depart daily for new and exciting destinations.
Like any passenger who pays their way, you will be put up in a guest cabin and will have access to nearly all of the vessel’s facilities. There are not many cabins designated for passengers, but you can opt for an individual or shared room, and your cabin will generally have the same features as those used by the ship’s officers. The passenger cabins are very nice, many of them are outward-facing, and each one is equipped with its own shower and toilet.
Since the captain and crew spend a good deal of their time out on the open sea, they always welcome new faces, and you may even be invited to dine with them, take a tour of the vessel, or participate in happy hour with the commanding officers.
Aside from meal times, the rest of the day is yours to spend as you please. However, it is very important to remember that a cargo ship is a work area; you must respect all safety regulations and be sure not to walk through the main work zones of the ship.
Age is not a factor! Anyone over the age of five can travel on a cargo ship, though people over the age of 75 must present a doctor’s certificate. On another note, English is the common language on the ships, so make sure that you are comfortable expressing yourself and understanding signs and safety instructions in English before traveling.
Traveling from port to port.
Your stay at each destination varies depending on the cargo to be loaded and unloaded there, but the ship can be docked for anywhere from a few hours to several days. It is important to discuss with the officers whether or not you may disembark at each port, and to properly plan your return to the ship.
Sometimes ships have to anchor several miles from the shore, in which case you may not be allowed to get off the ship (or at least not quickly/for free). It is uncommon, but port authorities may also prohibit you from disembarking.
How much are we talking here?
Passenger fares on cargo ships will run you 60 to 90 euros per day / ~ $70 to $100 USD. You may be thinking that it would be cheaper to travel by plane, but keep in mind that the trip also includes room and board, in addition to an unforgettable experience.
By the way, don’t forget to plan your trip well so that you can leave the calendar at home; traveling on a cargo ship takes longer than other modes of transportation due to the heavy weight that the vessels carry. For example, a trip from California to Tokyo could last 19 days and cost about 1,400 euros / ~$1,550 USD!
So if the price of traveling on a ship amongst shipping containers isn’t any cheaper than cruise ship fares, what makes this adventure worth it?
On a cargo ship, it’s the experience itself, and not the final destination, that makes your trip worthwhile. If you’re looking for a getaway from work, stress, and everyday life—a way to forget your responsibilities and just relax—this type of trip is for you!
Get ready for the experience of a lifetime!
If you’d like to brave the open sea by traveling aboard a cargo ship, we recommend that you visit the websites of international shipping companies and send them an email asking for passenger fares and a list of the routes they offer.
One shipping company that is known for offering these trips is ‘CMA CGM’, which as of last year began offering public fares for passenger cabins on one of the largest container ships in the world, the ‘CMA CGM Marco Polo’. This ship has a capacity of 16,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) and is nearly 400 meters long; that’s almost four football fields! This very space is where you as a voyager will have the opportunity to follow international trade routes across the world.
The ‘CMA CGM Marco Polo’ sails the seas on the longest route from Europe to Asia, passing through major ports such as: Bremerhaven, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Jebel Ali, Khor Fakkan, Le Havre, Malta, Port Klang, Port of Chiwan, Rotterdam, Shanghai, Southampton, Tangier, Xiamen, and Zeebrugge. Also joining this burgeoning trend are the cargo ships ‘Jacques Cartier‘ and ‘Alexander Von Humboldt‘.
Are you in?
Don’t delay; for your next vacation… choose to embark on the adventure of a lifetime!