It is a common misconception that the only way to travel overseas is wither an expensive and cramped plane ride or an expensive cruise trip. There is another option that is cheaper and presents unique mode of travel. Booking passage on a freighter is becoming more and more popular. Freighter Travel An Alternative Mode to Cross the Seas and though I have not ridden as a passenger on a freighter for more than one day to get from one port to another, I have done a great deal of research into it. It is a dream of mine to someday soon be able to take a longer trip on a freighter. So presented here for your enjoyment are some tips, advice, and misunderstandings about freighter travel.
While it is cheaper than a flight and can also be cheaper than a cruise, the romantic notion of earning passage as a busboy or deck hand is a thing of fiction. You will still be required to pay money for your passage onboard the ship. How much you end up paying will depend on what area of the world you are sailing from and too and how long of a trip it will be. When you travel on a freighter ship, you are paying for an extended stay n you feed cover your room, food, and basic accommodations in addition to the transport fee for getting you from one place to another.
Cruise ships are about style, entertainment, and class. Freighters are about shipping, work, and self preservation. There will be no dinner show, no casinos, and no dance club on a freighter. You will be responsible for your own entertainment. Medals will be provided by the ship but you will get exactly what the crewmen and deck hands eat. No special meal requests are available
and there is no entertainment offered if you find yourself awake and unable to sleep at midnight. This is why it is important to be able to entertain yourself while traveling by freighter. Bring books, Ipod and charger, playing cards, or anything else that can be used to keep yourself entertained without causing a major distraction. Remember, you are there to travel, everyone else is there to work and they cannot waste time entertaining you and keeping you from being bored
While traveling by freighter can be a unique and memorable way to travel, there are set limits on where you can go. Just because two ports are connects by water does not mean you can necessarily get from point A to point B.
Ships follow fairly tight shipping paths to deliver and pick up their goods. Sometimes ships will not go from your starting point to your desired ending point. Or if they do, there are multiple other stops along the way. So to get from let’s say an Italian port to a port in India, there may be four or more other stops along the way. Traveling by freighter is not about speed, it is about cost reductions and also enjoying a unique mode of travel. Traveling by freighter is about as close as we can get today to the rugged and minimalistic transport ships that brought many of our ancestors over the seas.
If you have made up your mind to experience freight-liner travel for yourself, there are several important tips and some helpful advice you should heed from experts who have gone before.
Tip number one is to shop around. Contact local travel agencies and see if they have listings of the freighters in the neighboring ports and what their
routes are. Check out the many online freight-liner sites to see what routs are coming up. Shop around and contact many companies before deciding on your final one. Also keep in mind that the cost for your trip can vary on the per day cost depending on the season and how many stops you will be making; another factor to keep in mind is that rate vary from one freight company to another. So the first step is to check out all of your options.
Tip number two is to admit your weakness. If you know you get motion sickness easily or are prone to bouts of sea sickness, then you need to plan ahead. Even if you have never gotten sick before and consider yourself at home on the water, it is a good idea to plan for it just in case. Depending on where in the worlds you are, storms can pop up seemingly out of nowhere. Also, the farther out into the ocean your voyage takes you, the more likely you are to encounter large swells. Plan ahead, by stocking up on Dramamine and other motion sickness medication. Sea bands, which apply pressure to the wrists, can help less the severity of seasickness. Remember, even seasoned seamen can still get bouts of seasickness, so you should prepare yourself too.
Tip number three is to keep yourself busy. Depending on where you are going, you could be spending weeks on the freighter so you need to keep yourself entertained. While some ships have a large crew, there is not always the option of chatting it up with them for hours on end. They have a job to do and also, depending on where in the world you are, you may
find that most of the crew may speak another language. This is why you should prepare ways to keep yourself entertained. If you are a writer, bring your next novel to work on and your favorite books to read. If you are the artistic type, bring your sketchpad or small canvases to work on when you see a scene that catches your eye. Books, music, and simple games can also pass the time. Some ships have a gym for crewmembers that you will be allowed to use, and others may have a small library, pool, or other amenities.
Tip number four is to remember this isn’t a cruise. Special diets are not accommodated while traveling by freightliner. There are no special menus for those with dietary needs or personal preferences. Gluten-free and lactose-free foods will not be found in your typical mess hall. Vegetarian dishes are generally unheard of. If you need a specialized diet while traveling, you will be responsible to supplying much of it. For the vegetarian, you can still eat with the crew while
avoiding any meat in the meals. You can also bring along your own supply of non-perishables such as granola bars, a tub of peanut butter, and so forth to use at mealtime.
Tip five is to always be courteous. Remember that you are a guest onboard the ship. Be respectful of the crew and captain- the ship is their home and livelihood and they have been gracious enough to let you join them. Clean up after yourself and do not leave a mess lying around. Respect other’s personals space and privacy needs. Do not go poking around in rooms and hallways. If doors are open, it is generally understood and an open invitation to come in, but if doors are shut, do not enter or if you must, knock.
Traveling by freight-liner can be a once in a lifetime experience. It is definitely a unique mode of travel. I have presented to you here just some of the pros and cons and some helpful tips I have discovered about traveling in this manner. For those who are well informed and willing to commit, traveling the oceans by freight-liner can be a wonderful experience.
I would like to thank Sarah Jo Lorenz-Coryell for her help in researching for this article and her help making it the best that it could be.