Freighter from South Korea to LA

Freighter and Other Non-Traditional Cruise Travel


Share your interest & experiences in Freighter Cruises and other unusual forms of leisure passenger ship travel
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#1
Maryland
4 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
Hi, I've been lurking these forums for a while but this is my first time posting.

So basically my story goes like this. My fiance and I are in South Korea where we came to teach English. I had always been a nervous flyer but I was never one of those "Oh my god I'm going to die" the moment the door closes types. Well when we got to Korea, that all changed. All of the sudden I could not imagine getting on a plane again, it was just terrifying (bit of a rocky 16 hours of flight here going over the North pole). Naturally when you are 7000 miles from home (in my case Maryland) this can prove to be bit of a problem.

In researching ways to get back I found out about freighter travel. I have only cruised once, 5 days on board the Disney Magic in 1999 (loved it!) and have taken ferries a few times for trips which lasted several hours. So I said what the hell and went ahead and booked passage on the Hanjin Baltimore sailing from Busan to Long Beach in the end of March (most likely to change to early April as the ship is dry docking in January). The lack of entertainment doesn't bother me as I spent most of my trip on the Magic hanging out in my cabin drawing and playing gameboy or being up on deck watching the ocean go by anyways... the shows don't really appeal to me.

I guess my question is, am I being crazy? Am I avoiding 10 hours of anxious flight for 11 days of anxious sea travel? I know weather patterns are unpredictable but does anyone know what I could expect in the Pacific around April? I don't have a seasickness problem but my fiance does, I know people say that after 2 or 3 days it goes away but I just worry about her (amazingly she didn't hesitate to say she would go with me and meanwhile my Best friend from back home has offered to go along and is quite looking forward to it.) Meanwhile I would prefer not to die if possible .

I am a writer and a week and a half of relative solitude sounds pretty sweet to me, but as my experience in the open ocean is limited at best I guess I am a bit nervous since I don't know what to expect and was just wondering if anyone here had any advice they could give me. At this point my only options for getting home are this, or being put into a medically induced coma to get on the plane. I have to make a decision to pay the rest of my fare by Jan 5 so as time has come closer to make a decision I have gotten more nervous about making it. Any advice would be appreciated.
#2
San Diego
5,139 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
Originally posted by MCC516
Hi, I've been lurking these forums for a while but this is my first time posting.

So basically my story goes like this. My fiance and I are in South Korea where we came to teach English. I had always been a nervous flyer but I was never one of those "Oh my god I'm going to die" the moment the door closes types. Well when we got to Korea, that all changed. All of the sudden I could not imagine getting on a plane again, it was just terrifying (bit of a rocky 16 hours of flight here going over the North pole). Naturally when you are 7000 miles from home (in my case Maryland) this can prove to be bit of a problem.

In researching ways to get back I found out about freighter travel. I have only cruised once, 5 days on board the Disney Magic in 1999 (loved it!) and have taken ferries a few times for trips which lasted several hours. So I said what the hell and went ahead and booked passage on the Hanjin Baltimore sailing from Busan to Long Beach in the end of March (most likely to change to early April as the ship is dry docking in January). The lack of entertainment doesn't bother me as I spent most of my trip on the Magic hanging out in my cabin drawing and playing gameboy or being up on deck watching the ocean go by anyways... the shows don't really appeal to me.

I guess my question is, am I being crazy? Am I avoiding 10 hours of anxious flight for 11 days of anxious sea travel? I know weather patterns are unpredictable but does anyone know what I could expect in the Pacific around April? I don't have a seasickness problem but my fiance does, I know people say that after 2 or 3 days it goes away but I just worry about her (amazingly she didn't hesitate to say she would go with me and meanwhile my Best friend from back home has offered to go along and is quite looking forward to it.) Meanwhile I would prefer not to die if possible .

I am a writer and a week and a half of relative solitude sounds pretty sweet to me, but as my experience in the open ocean is limited at best I guess I am a bit nervous since I don't know what to expect and was just wondering if anyone here had any advice they could give me. At this point my only options for getting home are this, or being put into a medically induced coma to get on the plane. I have to make a decision to pay the rest of my fare by Jan 5 so as time has come closer to make a decision I have gotten more nervous about making it. Any advice would be appreciated.
Regardless of the flying issue .....I think this would be a fantastic trip.

You would get to know all your fellow passengers as I do not think they carry many.
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#3
Maryland
4 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
Thanks, admittedly it's not just the flying issue attracting me to this trip, I could probably get over it. But Freighter travel in general seems intriguing to me. My main concern is weather I can expect due to my fiance's sea sickness.
#4
Sunshine Coast Queensland Australia
572 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
I was at sea worldwide for over 40 years.

Hanjin Baltimore is a large container ship of 82,794grt - registered & owned in Germany & built in S.Korea in 2005.
She is 300m long, 42m wide, with a full loaded draft of 11m.
Speed 20 knots.

Like all weather requests on cc - no one can predict what weather you will have - anywhere in the world. It's all down to luck.
North Pacific weather in not the best - but at least eastbound it will be with you. The vessel looks like it does great circle - therefore after passing through the Japanese islands it heads NE. This will take them well north of 40N - It could be cold & poor visibility is prevalent in the summer months. You could be in a force 9 gale most of the way or low to moderate winds most of the time.
These ships do not have stabilisers - so go prepared with plenty of seasick medication. It will be a great experience for you.
Maybe better if you send your girlfriend back by air.

John
Master Mariner
#5
Maryland
4 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
Thanks John,
Yeah I realize mother nature is unpredictable and any attempt to guess the weather I'll get will be just that, a guess. I just wasn't sure if there was an average I can expect for that crossing and that season. I know I'm not sailing out dead in the middle of typhoon season at least though

I've been told by a few people who have done freighter cruises on both smaller and larger ships that a vessel the size of the Baltimore should remain fairly stable but that a roll would always be noticeable due to the lack of stabilizers and this doesn't really bother me, one compare what they experienced to riding a train and that happens to be where I can get the best sleep. In any case we have loads of seasick meds and ginger gum and tablets.

I offered to fly my fiance home, and frankly I think she would much rather do that but she swears she's sticking by me if I do this... guess that's love for ya She's fine one dramameine (sp?) But said it knocks her out so she would just sleep most of tge trip. I found a non-drowsy kind and we're going to try it because I think if she was awake and not sick she would enjoy it as she keeps up a travel blog and this would make for an interesting entry.

I guess my last question, and I've done a lot of research into the matter is what people think of the relative safety of this kind of voyage. In relative terms it's not a long time to be at sea (like john's 40 years!) But I just want to make sure I'm keeping myself and my friends out of danger the best I can. From what I read most issues on these vessels are related to personal choice or work hazards rather than the safety of the vessel itself. Luckily none of us are heavy drinkers and we're generally have good sense when it comes to safety. In any case I'm excited about the adventure
#6
Sunshine Coast Queensland Australia
572 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
The most dangerous part of your journey is the car ride to the docks.
Container & most other merchant vessels are as safe as cruise ships & should anything go wrong you would have about 3 spaces per person in lifesaving equipment compared to a bit over 1 on a cruise ship.

If you google Hanjin Baltimore you will see a fair bit of info re the ship including an account by a previous passenger that went westbound mid winter. There are also several youtube vids of your ship & others.
You maybe lucky & get the owners suit.
It seams the Captain & officers are German & the crew from Phillipines.
Keep yourself safe by following the masters orders re where you can go onboard etc.
I was seasick once my first voyage - the ship was 1 tenth the size of HB.
Advice I was given by old Scottish salts onboard was - keep eating & drinking water, don't lie down & think you are going to die, stay in the fresh air & enjoy the forces of nature. You will soon get your sealegs.
Enjoy the voyage.
John.
Email me if you have any questions - [email protected]
#7
Maryland
4 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
Thanks again John,
Yeah the trip to the dock is certainly more dangerous... especially with a South Korean cabby, those guys are crazy But all good advice and I will certainly keep it all in mind. I did read a few accounts from previous passengers, and while I'm not sure if the officers will all be the same, it did seem like they were a pretty entertaining group of guys.

It's encouraging to know the amount of space on the life boats is so high, meanwhile in my time on the magic I always wondered with so many people on the ship how we would all manage to make it to life boats in an orderly manner (make note this is when I was in the sixth grade, my mind has always kind of thought in the worst case scenario) so only having 2 dozen or so on board seems like it would be an easier situation to manage (not to mention easier to realize someone has gone missing)

I've decided to go for it, truth is I don't think I will have this kind of opportunity again for a long time. As it seems most people have to wait until they are retired to have the time to do something like this and I'm lucky enough to be 25 with the time and money to go for it so might as well I'm sure my girlfriend will post about our journey on her blog so I will be sure to link to it when she does so anyone interested can see how the trip went.

Thanks again to everyone.
#8
United States
4 Posts
Joined Aug 2014
New to this forum and I have the EXACT same situation! Out of the blue about a year ago, flying became unthinkable for me. I was ok on short (under 3 hour flights) but my GF lives in Indonesia and now I'm trying to get to her so I've been researching freighter travel. Hope this forum helps!