This the world of “freighter cruising.”
When you’re travelling on a freighter, you don’t have to worry about being one of 3,000. The passenger levels are kept at somewhere between six and 12. According to Kevin Griffin, Managing Director of The Cruise People, freighter cruising is growing at the same percentage as river cruising, with a much smaller number of people.
The Cruise People is an agency based in London, but half its business comes from North America and Australia. This company doesn’t actively sell the mainstream large cruise lines because its market is freighters, small ships, expedition ships and luxury brands.
The freighter trips are long and while retirees have the time, Kevin points out you will also find on board young people who, after finishing college, are looking for a getaway before settling down to work life.
According to Kevin, the food is good and hearty but the choice is what the captain and the officers are eating that day.
What about speed?
“A good formula,” he says, “is that it take a day to steam as far as a jet will fly in an hour. You can do an around-the-world trip if you fly on the portion from New York to Vancouver [or in reverse]”
On the cruise I am about to highlight there are three different cabin (including the single cabins) configurations. Some are large “as much as 30 square metres.”
Kevin adds that, in a much bigger way, you are part of the overall scene on freighters. They travel all over the world, including the Great Lakes to Europe. One good example is a 42-day return trip from the West Coast, starting in Seattle with stops in Portland and Vancouver before crossing the Pacific. Asian ports are Pusan, Kwangyang, Ningbo and Shanghai, followed by the return trip back across the ocean to Prince Rupert before returning to Seattle.
Depending on loads, Kevin says the ports can change from time to time so you have to be flexible.
He also adds if you board at Vancouver and depart in Prince Rupert you reduce the cruise by a week and save some money. The fare becomes $4,650 per person including fees and taxes for 35 days or $4,410 single for the same thing.
Here is a summary of what’s on board and what’s for dinner (also breakfast and lunch)…
• Indoor swimming pool, sauna, fitness room, washer/dryer, lounge area, TV/VCR (TV near ports only), steward, cabin cleaning weekly
• Three cabins (owners, double, single)
• Meals with the captain and the officers
• Typical menus: breakfast — sausage goulash, eggs one day, French toast the next; lunch — chicken curry with rice, then breaded fish and ratatouille; dinner — spaghetti Bolognese and garlic bread, then sweet and sour pork with rice.
That’s a small sample of what goes on when travelling by freighter. For all the details, go to cruisepeople.co.uk. For email, use email@example.com.
“Mostly,” adds Kevin, “our passengers want the cruise experience without the 3,000-plus passengers that come with the mainline cruises.”
Would I try it? I’m not sure.
However, judging by the number of questions I receive about freighter cruising, there is a lot of interest.
Following is the complete menu and a list of one ship’s details, followed by pricing information (as a sample) from another ship: