View Full Version : WELCOME to Cruise Critic's Newest Forum!

Host Walt
August 14th, 2007, 10:53 AM
As cruising experiences go, there are the super luxury cruises where one can get a pedicure while snacking on caviar and working on a tan. Then there are the high end lines where the ships show movies on deck and one can play golf and climb rock walls. And, of course there are those lines that emphasize more mundane activities like wet T shirts and beer chugging contests.

Up to now, however, we've had little in the way of opportunity to discuss the more unique form of recreational sea travel including Freighter Cruises, Overnight (and longer) ferry travel and other sea going adventures.

Here's your opportunity to join with others who share your interest in, shall we say, "non traditional cruising."

While just the small number of folks who have (or can) take long cruises with uncertain schedules on freighters means this will not be a very busy forum, it is still your opportunity to ask, and answer, questions about non-traditional cruising.

Welcome, and enjoy.

October 14th, 2007, 05:05 AM
Hi Walt. Great to have this forum which as you say won't be real busy, as there aren't all that many of us doing this sort of crusing.
Being a passenger on a working ship is something I have know about since the 60's, but only now has the opportunity arisen to turn that dream into reality.
My husband and I are travelling from Australia to UK and Scandinavia in July next year, having diverse experiences during our time over there, but we are coming back from Tilbury, London on a french owned container ship, which will take 46 days to travel from London via Rotterdam, Le Harve, Dunkirk, New York, Norfolk, Savannah, Manzinello, Panama Canal, Papette, New calendonia, Brisbane and then Sydney, Australia.
I think it is going to be an experience of a lifetime, and a wonderful way to unwind after a fairly hectic holiday in UK and Europe.
Best to be doing it before too many find out about it, and then getting berths will be come impossible. By the way, we made our reservations in April 2007 to sail in September 2008.

October 15th, 2007, 12:20 AM
My husband and I are travelling from Australia to UK and Scandinavia in July next year...which will take 46 days to travel from London via Rotterdam, Le Harve, Dunkirk, New York, Norfolk, Savannah, Manzinello, Panama Canal, Papette, New calendonia, Brisbane and then Sydney, Australia.

Would you please give us a rough idea of the sort of fares one would expect top pay if taking a trip like this?

Also, I'd be very interested to know the major difference that someone who is used to traditional cruising would notice when cruising by frieighter?



October 15th, 2007, 07:02 AM
Hello Neilius, Thanks for your question...I am new to this forum but am happy to pass on the information I have.
To travel from Tilbury London to Sydney via Panama Canal is costing my husband and I $AU8,578.00 each (approx. depending on the rate of exchange of the euro when the final amount is payable..this figure was given when the rate of exchange from Australian dollars to euros was 0.59)
We will be on board the container ship for 46 days, with full keep for that time so that equates to about $186 a day per person. As we have never taken any commercial cruises I cannot make any comparisons.
The reasons we have chosen to undertake this type of travel are varied.
My husband was Captain of Sydney Harbour tugs in his younger days and we have had boats of various sizes from time to time throughout our life.
We don't want to dress "up" for dinner each night as would be expected on most cruise liners, nor do we want lots of entertainment. The maximum number of passengers on our ship will be 6, and hopefully we will find some good company there, if not I like to read, listen to music etc, and enjoy my husbands company.
He loves anything "boats/ships", so expect he will spend some time in the engine room if the Engineer invites him.
Usually the passengers are welcome on the bridge during the day and evening.
Our ship is french owned and we will have european officers and probably phillipino crew. Some reports from passengers who have previously sailed talk of the French chef and the wonderful food and wine.
Hope this covers your questions, if there is anything specific you would like to ask, please do.

October 21st, 2007, 08:17 AM
Hey Walt, you were right about this type of cruising not attracting a lot of interest...even when a direct question is asked and then fully answered, there is no reaction! Oh well, maybe it's better that we keep it a secret, after all there aren't that many berths on the few working ships that take paying passengers.

October 25th, 2007, 05:58 PM
I just happed to stumble into this topic. I thought I didn't recognize it over the past 5 years on cruise critic.
I gather it is extreme to someone like me who only has experienced the traditional big cruise ship and all the hoo hah that goes with it.
As my Dad used to say....."Theres a seat for every Butt!"

I'll keep my eye in here from time to time. I enjoy reading about it.


October 26th, 2007, 11:15 PM
Hey Walt, you were right about this type of cruising not attracting a lot of interest...even when a direct question is asked and then fully answered, there is no reaction! Oh well, maybe it's better that we keep it a secret, after all there aren't that many berths on the few working ships that take paying passengers.

Hi Aileen

I'm sorry. I would have replied earlier, but I 've just got back from a cruise today with my family. (Not sure if that info showed up in my signature line or not).

Thanks for the info.

We have young kids, so it would be difficult to take tem on a cruise like the one you were lucky enough to do over 46 nights. I might do some more investigation to see if there are any shorter cruises available.

Will you be keeping a blog or online travel journal while you're aboard? I tried to do one on our most recent cruise but it got a bit expensive with the exhorbitant rates you have to pay for internet access onboard. I managed to post on every day except the last though.

Any idea what internet access would be like on a freighter?


(The room is still rocking)


November 7th, 2007, 05:45 AM
Hi Nielius,
Hope your most recent cruise was a good one...Container ship travel would not be at all suitable with young children, and I think that there is a minimum age limit applied (though Not sure what it is). Understandable really as there is nothing organised for kids or adults, and running around the decks amongst the containers might worry the Captain and crew!
I will keep a diary whilst on the 46 days it takes to come from Tilbury to Sydney and possibly post a bit of a report about the experience. There is so little written anywhere about life at sea on a freighter/container ship and as this will be our first time I am hungry for information, so maybe I will be able to fill this void for others on my return.
I think I read somewhere that you can send and receive emails through the Captain's office, but how much access will be made available I guess is up to the Captain..and as he is really mostly interested in getting containers on and off the ship and keeping to schedule,..passenger's requirements may come somewhere down the list.
I didnt find the Sydney Agent (who has a monopoly on freighter cruising) very warm and forthcoming with information so after booking and paying our deposit (17 months in advance) I have not made, nor received any further contact from them. After lots of searching on the internet and with a little bit of luck I have found a site where I can keep an eye on the schedule of the ship we are booked to travel on and so now know that it is 5 days behind the original departure date from Tilbury and as we are still 10 months out from sailing from Tilbury, we may find we have another couple of weeks to spend in Britain or Europe. So just an example of how flexible you must be when travelling by this mode.

November 7th, 2007, 06:15 AM

I think your travel logs will make great reading. We're looking forward to it.


February 16th, 2008, 10:36 PM
Hi Aileen,
I have just joined this form and have posted on your other site earlier today but just to recap I have booked on the Matisse sailing from Tilbury on Feb 27 2009 to Melbourne ( presumably the voyage after yours). I booked through the Sydney agent and found them to be very helpful after a bit of a runaround after trying to deal with CMA CGM Direct.I was offered the owners suite but opted for the Super Cargo cabin as I am travelling alone this time - a long sea voyage doesn't suit my wife.With the firming of the Aussie$ against the euro things are working well.I have also been building a file about schedules etc but am happy to learn as much as I can about Matisse or her sister ships which do this route.Look forward to swapping further posts.

April 19th, 2008, 03:23 AM
I didn't even know this type of sailing exsisted! I would love to learn more.

Host Walt
April 19th, 2008, 11:55 AM
I didn't even know this type of sailing exsisted! I would love to learn more.
That's why we added this forum last year.

Some freighters can accommodate only a few passengers who are content with a lot of free time without casinos, big shows and bingo to occupy their day.

As I said in the OP, this forum will not be very active simply because so few people have done a freighter cruise but it's an interesting concept.

We've had more activity in this forum than we expected and hope that it continues to grow.

November 3rd, 2008, 08:04 PM
Were can one find information on booking these liners?
Sounds very interesting.

Host Walt
November 20th, 2008, 09:30 PM
Were can one find information on booking these liners?
Sounds very interesting.

Do a google search for "freighter cruising" for starters.

January 26th, 2009, 10:15 PM
I am calling myself a first time cruser.....but If you count the time I went from Bremerhaven Germany to Saudi Arabia in 1990....well.....

I am in the Army and was stationed in Germany from 1988-1992. When we went to War with Iraq the fisrt time in 1990 we deployed from Germany to Saudi Arabia. We loaded all the 1st armored Divisions' Tanks and equipment on a bunch of cargo ships and roro ships..(Roll On Roll Off). Well anyway the Army sent 8 of us per ship to "Guard" the equipment...How could you steal something on a ship>? I guess it was just to keep people from sabotage or something....but anyway I think it 2 weeks to sail around and go through the Suez cannal.....Long trip....Bad food....The crew was told not to talk to us so they didn't.....Really boring time......I mean Really boring........but then again we were going to "War" and were all worried about comming back....not really enjoying the cruise

If i had to do it all over again.......I think I would live it!!!!

On and can you guess the price? (We rode for Free).....kinda of I am sure Uncle Sam paid a pretty penny for my bunk. LOL


Host Walt
January 26th, 2009, 10:33 PM
GI Joe, that definitely qualifies as "non-traditional" cruising! And it looks like the First Armored has continued the same standard...guard it even if it is bolted down and can't be stolen. I was in the First Armored in the late 60's and pulled the same kind of "keep 'em busy" guard duty all the time. But never on a ship.

Welcome to Cruise Critic!

January 27th, 2009, 10:38 PM
I will try and find some pics from that trip on the ship. I can't remember the name of the ship of how it was flagged....maybe I can dig up those old files just for fun. If I knew then what I know know I would have had a blast and definantly dones things different.

March 21st, 2009, 12:26 PM
Thank you for this board on CC. The concept of freighter travel has intrigued me for a while. I have plenty of vacation days (20 per year) to do some but, unfortunately, these days need to be split up significantly. It was tough getting the 10 needed for my Panama Canal cruise just this past January.

In any case, thank's for the board and I will definitely be checking the threads out!!!

October 30th, 2009, 10:30 PM
I am BRAND NEW to Cruise Critic and thank you for starting this discussion board. While "conventional" cruising is what we have done for 10+ years, such non-traditional cruise travel was a favorite of my late mother/father in-laws. My wife and I are very interested in learning more about such trips and look to this discussion board as a good resource.

November 2nd, 2010, 10:37 AM
As a retired freighter captain (Lykes Lines is no longer in business) I took the time to put some of my experiences on the web (http://members.dslextreme.com/users/dicka) and always enjoyed having passengers aboard. Now I have just booked a two week cruise on the Aranui 3, and found this topic helpful and informative. I have also cruised on the Hurtigeroute up the coast of Norway, and even captained one of the ships they sold to Mercy Ships, where I now work. I find that passenger/cargo ships have the best of both worlds, All the activities on large cruise liners are not necessary for me, and I like the more intimate and less crowded ships.

Would it be possible to sort out the various topics in this forum? I noticed that there are multiple topics open on the Aranui and the Hurtigeroute. Best Regards, John

Two Tumbleweeds
December 21st, 2010, 10:49 AM
In the 20's and 30's there were no cruise lines as we have today. There were passenger liners and then there were the freighters going all over the world. As a young boy my family traveled from Mexico to The Netherlands on ships that were a combination of freighter and passenger ship. The Orinoco was one such ship and photos of it are available on the internet. In those days there were also my so called "tramp steamers" and manned by crews from many nations. Some still exist and I was offered a job as 2nd Mate on one back in the 60's. They are of questionable safety, so beware! Today there are still some freighters that will take passengers, but I'm not sure if I would take passage on a container vessel. They are jampacked fore and aft with containers which severely restricts movement about the ship. I think I would prefer a freighter carrying cargo below decks. Remember also that time in any port is usually very short because time in port costs the ship money. For example, I shipped on oil tankers for awhile and turn around time for offloading was only 15 hours. The Dutch may still have many freighters available and some of the other European countries so you can start by looking there. Dutch Lloyd for example. If you do get passage on a freighter you can learn a lot on any bridge, and that can be the beginning of a new hobby--navigation.

February 17th, 2011, 04:58 PM
I just found this topic. I see you have talked about freighters. While I am not into turn down service, big shows, casinos, getting drunk, fancy dining and food, and all the other stuff that typical cruise ships have, I don't know that freighters are for me. What other options are there for a week or two of cruising on a more stripped down ship?

Two Tumbleweeds
February 20th, 2011, 04:19 PM
I would suggest contacting the different lines that are primarily cargo carriers. You can probably get a listing on Google. Holland America used to be one that was quite excellent, but lord knows how they operate today.

February 22nd, 2011, 01:44 PM
Thank You

February 24th, 2012, 11:19 PM
we are booked on the April 28th sailing. Who else might be on this trip of a lifetime from the USA. We live in California

Happy Cruiser
March 25th, 2013, 01:17 PM
We are looking at this ship for a trip out of Belize. It is certainly "non-traditional" so I hope I have the right forum. Any information you can give me would be appreciated.