Round The World On Cargo Ships, from the blog Footprints and Photos

This week, we feature two blog postings by a Cruise People client who this year crossed the Atlantic and the Pacific and is now preparing to return from Australia to Europe via Southeast Asia. Here is her first blog posting on this subject as she was in the midst of her planning this January.

RTW on cargo ships

FootprintsAndFotos / January 28, 2016

Traveling round the world on a cargo ship, doesn’t that just sound like the most amazing adventure? Not only is it the most environmentally friendly way to cross oceans (more on that in a later post), but it evokes nostalgia for a world gone by.

1920s ship photoBooking a passage on a cargo ship is not as simple as booking a flight, however. You cannot book cargo passages or even view available ships and cabins online. Also, due to limited number of cabins, the passages should be booked 3-6 months in advance. However, it can be done. There are a few agencies who book passages on a cargo ship. I have used The Cruise People Ltd for all my cargo ship bookings. They are based in London and book freighter travel around the world. So how do you do it?

Planning: first, have an idea when and where you would like to go. Or, you can browse around the above website and look for inspiration. I did originally think about getting a freighter from Iceland to Greenland and from there to Canada, but that doesn’t seem possible on cargo ships. If you have found these options, do comment below. I was also thinking about South America, but that would have extended my total travel time too far, so decided to leave that in the dream pile for now.

Getting in touch: once I settled on my current itinerary, from Europe to US, then to Australia and finally to South East Asia, I then simply e-mailed The Cruise People with my questions. At first, my timelines were open, so we only established that they can book all three legs of my cargo journeys. As soon as I knew when I could set off, I sent an inquiry for the EU-US leg with my preferred date range. The agent checked and sent me an option for mid April, which I was happy to accept.

Paperwork, Part 1: I received an option for the journey in return mail, with four pdf files and an excel invoice. The deposit needed to be paid and documents signed within a week to confirm the booking. The initial paperwork depends on the shipping line, but typically includes various terms and conditions, indemnity letter and an identity form with details about myself, such as address and passport details.

Paperwork, Part 2: once the deposit has gone through and the initial paperwork received by the agent, the booking is then confirmed and a final round of paperwork is needed. Again, this varies from ship to ship, but usually includes a declaration that I understand the terms and conditions, a doctor’s certificate qualifying me to travel on a cargo ship, information about travel and health insurance, and relevant visas. Many of these I didn’t have available at time of booking, but they can be provided closer to sail time, fortunately. Having completed what I could, I sent the scans back to the agent.

Photo by Australian National Maritime Museum on The Commons The rest of the passage fare needs to be paid within 2 months of planned departure. The doctor’s certificate can only be obtained less than 30 days of departure. This means that for the US to Australia and Australia to Malaysia, I will need to get these from local clinics in my departure country. Additionally, you need of course a valid passport and visas for all relevant countries. All in all, it can take weeks to book your cargo travel and provide all necessary documents.

Cargo travel is not a fast and cheap travel option. In a single cabin, the cost is around 80-100 euros per day, with additional booking fees, port fees and taxes and a deviation insurance of about 200 euros (in case the ship has to make an unscheduled stop due to a medical reason). Crossing the Atlantic takes around 11 days, with about 21 days from US to Australia, and another 10 days to Malaysia.

Yet, cargo travel is a wonderful option for those with time and money, and ability to commit to a schedule many months in advance.

– end –

For further details of how to book a cargo ship voyage please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or e-mail

About thecruisepeople
Specialists in sea travel - ultra-luxury cruising, freighter travel, small ships and expedition voyages.

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