Freighter Travel

Passenger-Carrying Freighters Offer Alternative To Traditional Cruises

Here's another cruise alternative: taking a voyage on a freighter. Once a very popular inexpensive way to take an ocean cruise, freighter travel fell into somewhat of a decline with the onset of cruise ships in the early ‘90s. But, freighter sailings are becoming popular again as cruisers want a different experience from that of a traditional cruise.  In addition, many freighters have become more passenger friendly by adding cabins and other amenities not once found on these ships years ago. Also the lower price of a voyage that often lasts longer than most cruise itineraries, with rates generally averaging around the $100 mark, as another determining factor.

Of course, there won’t be any casino or Broadway-style revues on board to entertain you nor five-star dining on a freighter cruise nor your bed turned down at night. Instead, guests will be communing not only with the ship staff, but with the natural elements at sea such as the rush of waves hitting the vessel or sighting whales and ocean birds or perhaps an iceberg. But there will be ample time to catch up on books not read, and, perhaps, taking stock of one’s life.

Here are some websites that can offer information and trips for those wishing to embark on an offbeat voyage.

Maris Cruise & Freighter Club

Maris offers a range of voyages from coastal and island expeditions on a variety of specialized working ships to one-way ocean crossings and Around-the-World cruises on modern containerships and tramp steamers. This site offers information and reservations on a variety of passenger-carrying freighters and specialty ships where you can find out how to:

-- Travel on containerships overseas.

-- Cruise on a Royal Mail Ship or tramp steamer to exotic destinations.

-- Sail on cargo liners around-the-world.

The website features a monthly newsletter and a section called Compass Highlights designed to provide a summary of various sailings, destinations and prices in one quick, easy glance.

More information available from Maris Cruise & Freighter Club, 215 Main Street, Westport CT 06880. Tel: 1 800 99-Maris (62747) & 1 203 222-1500.

Freighter World Cruises

Freighter World Cruises (FWC) is a travel agency specializing in travel by freighter. This California-based agency addresses every aspect of travel by cargo ship—locating an agent or shipping company that books freighter voyages, learning what the trips will cost and where the ships go; and viewing pictures of more than 2,000 ships—from the engine room to the bridge.

FWC handles over 35 different shipping lines that operate on more than 55 different service itineraries. The agency offers cabins on most of these ships for individuals sailing through travel agents in North America as well as making direct bookings with our clients. Freighter World Cruises says it charges the actual fares charged by the shipping lines and adds no margins.

For a totally comprehensive list of all such ships, their dates of departure, prices, and destinations, contact Freighter World Cruises, Inc., (180 South Lake Avenue, Suite 335, Pasadena, CA 91101; tel: 626/449-3106 or 800/531-7774. Email:

Based in the UK, this year-old website offers a forum for freighter travel enthusiasts. It also invites readers to book freighter cruises using the website’s list of booking agencies.

The site’s Freighter Travel Guide explains some of the basic facts about freighter travel and may be helpful for first-time freighter travelers with questions, such as traveling with a pet, types of freighters and the costs involved, and a guide to world ports.

There is a corresponding website that offers the Captain’s Page where Captain McDonnell recounts some of his experiences during his years as a captain for Lykes Lines. He also relates his experiences with passengers. Website:


TravLtips is a cruise and freighter travel association that represents the majority of reliable passenger-carrying freighters departing from North American ports and select foreign departures. It also advises clients seeking one-way freighter passage to foreign destinations on what is required to travel to foreign countries by freighter.

The listings on the website represent the majority of reliable passenger-carrying freighters departing from North American ports and select foreign departures. The ports are "typical": all itineraries are contingent on cargo. No two sailings are identical and ports of call and length of voyage are never guaranteed. Fares, unless otherwise noted, are in US dollars, per person, double occupancy and are subject to change. Vessels are fully containerized unless otherwise indicated. Rates on many freighters listed are subject to foreign currency fluctuations. For more details on any service, contact the TravLtips Reservation Office, P.O. Box 580188, Flushing, N.Y. 11358. Toll Free (800) 872-8584.

Fax: (718) 224-3247. E-mail:


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