Round the World: Crossing The Atlantic On A Cargo Ship

  /

I have just discovered my favorite way to travel. The 12 day voyage was wonderful and I didn’t want it to end, no matter how much I was looking forward to further adventures in the US.

Much of the success of the ship is due to the lovely fellow passengers and crew on board the CMA CGM JAMAICA. We were five passengers: a French couple, and three other women, an American, a German and myself. Everyone was friendly, sociable and willing to party. And party we did. We were invited to a party in the crew recreation room the first day at sea, and the party lasted until 2 am when I had to beg off. The party didn’t really stop until we arrived in Charleston. Sure, the crew had work from 8 am to 5 pm, plus the on call shifts on the bridge and engine room, but that just gave us passengers time to rest until the next party.

The crew onboard was part Ukranian, mostly the officers, and part Filipino, hence most of the crew. The messrooms and recreation rooms were split according to nationality, not officer/crew distinction. I guess it works for them, but as I have been used to very mixed international groups, both at work and with my friends, I find such divisions odd. The Filipino crew especially were absolute darlings and we spent most of our time with them. Imagine our very great surprise when they told us that in their collective many years at sea, we were the first passengers ever to party with them. It may have had something to do with us being mostly women and thus a welcome change from the all-male crew. Whatever the cause, it was magical.

We did take a few nights off, watching movies or BBC’s Jane Austen TV series in my room, and I had a few solitary evenings when I felt the need to re-charge. We also gathered for breakfast, lunch and dinner at the officers’ messroom, took turns around the open deck, and spent time at the forward deck, watching the sea go by. Of course we also got stellar tours of the ship, first inside the super structure including the bridge, then twice around the ship including the outside, and finally the engine room, which was very exciting.

Meal times for passengers were 8 am for breakfast, 12:30 for lunch and 18:30 for dinner. The food was good, plentiful, and mostly potatoes/pasta, meat/fish and vegetables. There was usually also a soup (mostly with meat), and always a few different salads, bread and cheese. Dessert was usually fresh fruit, which was lovely, with an occasional cake or ice cream. I had brought some hummus with me, and I had that usually at breakfast with toast, cucumber and tomatoes. I explained that I was vegetarian at first dinner, so for all other meals I was brought the food without the dead animals automatically. Great service!

The sea was mostly calm, with a few rocky nights, but I held up well. The weather prohibited us from going outside on some days, whether it was due to waves, wind or rain, but on most days we spent at least a few hours outside. I was walking laps around the long forward deck of the ship whenever I could. The last few days were hot and sunny, and despite a high SPF sun screen, I managed to get a sunburn.

The way the ship was organized is that the super structure, i.e. the tall part with all the crew and passenger quarters (in photo) shared spaces and engine control room, stands between the two decks. The back part is shorter, about 50 meters, and the long front part extends about 200 meters. The walkway along the edge in the front is mostly underneath the containers, which dominate both decks. There were nine decks accessible to us: the upper deck where the ship’s office was, decks A-G with cabins and shared spaces, and the bridge. We were allowed on the bridge most of the time, with permission from the officer on charge. Only when they were busy with either departure or arrival, and usually at night time, the bridge was off limits.

Boarding and disembarking went with little fuss and ceremony. I took a taxi to the harbor in Bremerhaven and was dropped off at the reception. They waved me through to a little shed next to the fence, and a shuttle bus picked me up from there. I walked up the gangway to what turned out to be the upperdeck level, submitted my passport, and signed a few papers, and that was it. I was in my cabin at around noon. The ship departed at 11 pm, and I spent it mostly in my cabin, reading. It had been a hectic few days and I was glad of the chance to take it easy. The outside areas were off limits during cargo loading and offloading anyway.

Leaving the ship was also quite straightforward. A US immigration officer came onboard to do a “face check”, i.e. comparing faces to passports, and asking a few questions about me, where I was coming from and what my plans in the US were. I got my stamps, and it all took about 5 minutes. We organized a taxi pickup from the ship with an agent who came to the ship at the same time as immigration. When we were ready, we just walked down the ramp and got on the taxi. There was no customs or further passport checks. Simple!

Two of my worries from an earlier post were thus dispelled. I was not sea sick at all, and there was no trouble with immigration. What I hadn’t expected was the emotional whiplash of leaving the ship after 12 days at sea. We were such a close group of people, amplified with the lack of contact with outside world, that leaving the ship was hard. I would have gladly continued on. After being fully pampered by the lovely crew, in my own suite of rooms, with everything prepared for us, the prospect of other people, traffic, noise, and dealing with my own accommodation, travel and food was daunting.

But, I had to get off, they wouldn’t let me stay. Besides, I had the whole of US waiting for me. And two more cargo ship passages to come.

This voyage set a really high bar for any other cargo ship trip, however, and I will never forget it, or the people I shared it with.

For further details of booking a cargo ship voyage please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or e-mail PassageEnquiry@aol.com.

Advertisements

Last Minute Polsteam Cargo Ship With Open Cabins From Amsterdam To The Great Lakes, Second Half September, From $1,640 Plus Taxes

Polsteam Isadora DSCF21065

Polsteam’s Isadora, photographed by Gordon L Wolford in the St Lawrence River near Brockville, Ontario.

For those wanting to return to North America this autumn by sea, or sail into the Great Lakes we have an extra sailing by Polsteam’s m.v. Isadora, scheduled from Amsterdam/IJmuiden for Cleveland, Ohio, and Burns Harbor, Indiana, in the second half of Septober.

Available for last-minute booking are the Owner’s cabin on Bridge Deck, a double cabin on Main Deck and two single cabins on Main Deck, one with a forward hatch view and one with an outboard view to the side.

Arrival IJmuiden for loading is presently scheduled for about September 16 and sailing three or four days later. To qualify for this sailing, passengers that are not US or Canadian citizens require a full US visa as cargo ships are not party to the visa waiver scheme.

Fares for this departure are $1,640 per person single or double to Cleveland and $1,880 to Burns Harbor, while the Owners cabin is $1,835 to Cleveland and $2,035 to Burns Harbor. Port taxes are extra at $132 per person.

For further details please call Miri Lopusna at passenger agents The Cruise People Ltd in London om +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or e-mail PassageEnquiry@aol.com.

 

Last Minute Transatlantic Cargo Ship Voyage, Europe to the USA In September and USA to Europe In October On NSB’s m.v. Buxcoast

Buxcoast © bassheiner at Fleetmon

A last-minute round voyage has been announced by NSB for its 68,800-ton m.v. Buxcoast, a vessel equipped with an Owners Cabin, Double Cabin and Single Cabin. Fares start at €90 per person per day double and €85 per day single (a negative single supplement!) plus port charges, deviation insurance and booking fee. Single occupancy of a double cabin is €105 per day.

  • Departs Rotterdam about September 09, 2016
  • Le Havre about September 10-11
  • New York about September 19/20
  • Norfolk about September 21/22
  • Charleston about September 23
  • Antwerp about October 03
  • Bremerhaven about October 4/5
  • Rotterdam October 07
  • Arrives Le Havre about October 08, 2016

Dine with the officers in a ship equipped with a passenger lounge, indoor swimming pool, sauna and fitness room. Intending passengers who are not US or Canadian citizens require a full US B1/B2 Visa to enter the United States this way as cargo ships are not party to the various visa waiver schemes. Act now in order to secure space.

For further information on this voyage, or travel by cargo ship in general, please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail PassageEnquiry@aol.com.

Around The World In 77 Days By CMA CGM: From Houston, Mobile, Miami and Jacksonville Via South Africa, Singapore And Hong Kong

CMA CGM Florida in Panama Canal

CMA CGM Florida, one of seven round-the-world ships, is seen here in the Panama Canal

The latest news from CMA CGM brings good tidings for those looking for a single voyage round the world. Round-the-world voyages will now be available from Houston, Mobile, Miami and Jacksonville, which has not been available since Rickmers stopped carrying passengers through the Suez Canal in 2011.

Because of a change in the way the Pacific Express 3 Line is operated we can now offer the service as a full 77-day Round-the-World freighter cruise from four US ports as well as Singapore or Hong Kong. Ships in this line have been trading both ways via Panama but will now return to Asia via the Cape of Good Hope, with a call at Durban on the way to Singapore and Hong Kong. The transit time from Jacksonville to Durban is 22 days, while Durban to Singapore is 14 days.

The full round-the-world voyage takes 77 days and seven passenger-friendly ships on the run means an average frequency of about every 11 days. The fare for the full 77-day circumnavigation is €8,470 per person double occupancy or single, or €9,240-10,010 for sole use of a double cabin (depending which ship). Sample one-way fares are Miami to Durban in 25 days at €2,7500 (€3,000-3,250 single), Hong Kong to Houston in 29 days at €3,190 (€3,480-3,770 single) or Houston to Singapore in 44 days at €4,400 (€5,280-5,720 single).

Passengers are carried in seven of the eleven ships employed in this service as follows: m/v’s CMA CGM Alcazar and CMA CGM Chateau d’If (1 Owners and 1 Single, maximum 3 passengers), CMA CGM Virginia (3 Double cabins, swimming pool, maximum 6 passengers) and the CMA CGM Blue Whale, CMA CGM Florida, CMA CGM Georgia and CMA CGM Tarpon (3 Single cabins, swimming pool, maximum 3 passengers).

PEX3

The full itinerary is Houston – Mobile – Miami – Jacksonville – Durban – Singapore – Hong Kong – Chiwan, China – Shanghai, China – Ningbo, China – Pusan, South Korea – Houston.

For further details on this new Round-the-World route please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or e-mail PassageEnquiry@aol.com

CMA CGM Expands North Atlantic Passenger Capacity On Its Liberty Bridge and Victory Bridge Services – Now With Four Ships

CMA CGM Jamaica © Matthes

CMA CGM will now have four passenger-carrying container ships in its North Atlantic trades

CMA CGM’s changing deployments are going to add significant passenger capacity to the Transatlantic business, where it is often difficult to get space. First, the 8-passenger CMA CGM Sambhar has joined the 7-passenger CMA CGM Jamaica in the Victory Bridge service, while the 5-passenger CMA CGM Amber and CMA CGM Coral have been brought into full-time service on the Liberty Bridge toute. This will thus be the first time in several years that CMA CGM has had four ships in North Atlantic passenger service. As part of this, the CMA CGM Amber and CMA CGM Coral will be offering berths on the Le Havre – Southampton – New York route, which was once famous for ocean liners such as the s.s France.

Liberty Bridge

CMA CGM’s Liberty Bridge service includes Le Havre, Southampton and New York

Effective immediately, CMA CGM is adding two 5-passenger ships, the CMA CGM Amber and CMA CGM Coral to the Liberty Bridge service. This route offers a 35-night round voyage from New York via Norfolk, Charleston and Savannah to Antwerp, Rotterdam, Bremerhaven, Le Havre and Southampton, with a 9-night sailing back to New York. These ships, featuring one double Owners cabin and three Single cabins, have been brought in from the Vespucci service, which serves the Far East. Although this adds an extra 20 sailings and 100 berths per year, space will still be limited so it is wise to apply early. The fare for the full 35-night round voyage on he Liberty Bridge service is €3,850 per person for two in the Owners Cabin or €4,200 for a Single Cabin.

Victory Bridge

CMA CGM’s Victory Bridge route includes Gulf ports

At the same time, CMA CGM is doubling its Victory Bridge passenger capacity with the addition of the 8-berth CMA CGM Sambhar to the 7-berth CMA CGM Jamaica. This route offers a 42-night round voyage from Houston, New Orleans and Miami to Le Havre, Antwerp, Rotterdam and Bremerhaven and returns via Charleston, Savannah and Miami to Veracruz and Altamira and then back to Houston.This service provides another 120 berths annually, which added to the Liberty Bridge means about 36 sailings and 220 berths in each direction across the Atlantic yearly. The fare for the full 42-night round voyage on the Victory Bridge service is €4,620 per person twin in the CMA CGM Sambhar or €5,040 in the CMA CGM Jamaica and between €5,040 and €5,460 for a Single passenger.

Projected schedules on some of the typical one-way routes are as follows:

Eastbound Passenger Service – USA to Europe

New York to Antwerp (20 days) : fares €2,800 per person in Owners or €3,000/3,600 Single
CMA CGM Coral 11.10.16
CMA CGM Amber 25.10.16
CMA CGM Coral 15.11.16
CMA CGM Amber 29.11.16
CMA CGM Coral 20.12.16
CMA CGM Amber 03.01.17
CMA CGM Coral 24.01.17
CMA CGM Amber 07.02.17

Savannah to Antwerp (13 days): fares €1,820 per person in Owners or €1,950/2,340 Single
CMA CGM Coral 18.10.16
CMA CGM Amber 01.11.16
CMA CGM Coral 22.11.16
CMA CGM Amber 27.12.16
CMA CGM Coral 10.01.17
CMA CGM Amber 23.01.17
CMA CGM Coral 31.01.17
CMA CGM Amber 14.02.17

New Orleans to Le Havre (16 days): fares €1,760/1,920 per person or €1,920/2,080 Single
CMA CGM Sambhar 09.10.16
CMA CGM Jamaica 22.10.16
CMA CGM Sambhar 12.11.16
CMA CGM Jamaica 03.12.16
CMA CGM Sambhar 24.12.16

Miami to Le Havre (12 days): fares €1,320/1,440 per person or €1,440/1,560 Single
CMA CGM Sambhar 05.10.16
CMA CGM Jamaica 26.10.16
CMA CGM Sambhar 16.11.16
CMA CGM Jamaica 07.12.16
CMA CGM Sambhar 28.12.16

Westbound Passenger Service – Europe to USA

Le Havre to New York (10 days): fares €1,400 per person in Owners or €1,500/1,800 Single
CMA CGM Coral 30.09.16
CMA CGM Amber 14.10.16
CMA CGM Coral 04.11.16
CMA CGM Amber 18.11.16
CMA CGM Coral 9.12.16
CMA CGM Amber 23.12.16
CMA CGM Coral 13.01.17
CMA CGM Amber 27.01.17

Southampton to New York (9 days): fares €1,400 per person in Owners or €1,500/1,800 Single
CMA CGM Coral 01.10.16
CMA CGM Amber 15.10.16
CMA CGM Coral 05.11.16
CMA CGM Amber 19.11.16
CMA CGM Coral 10.12.16
CMA CGM Amber 24.12.16
CMA CGM Coral 14.01.17
CMA CGM Amber 28.01.17

Le Havre to Miami (17 days): fares €1,870/2,040 per person or €2,040/2,210 Single
CMA CGM Sambhar 16.10.16
CMA CGM Jamaica 06.11.16
CMA CGM Sambhar 27.11.16

Rotterdam to Charleston (13 days): fares €1,430/1,560 per person or €1,560/1,690
CMA CGM Jamaica 28.09.16
CMA CGM Sambhar 19.10.16
CMA CGM Jamaica 09.11.16
CMA CGM Sambhar 30.11.16

For bookings or further details please contact Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or e-mail PassageEnquiry@aol.com.

 

Seasons Greetings From Passengers On The 84-day Maiden Voyage Of The 18,000 TEU French-Flag Container Ship CMA CGM Bougainville

CMA CGM BougauinvilleChristmas and New Year greetings from British passengers Pat and John Pridmore, who joined CMA CGM Bougainville (above) in Southampton, the day after her christening in Le Havre as the largest container ship under French flag, for her first round voyage from Europe to the Far East.

anchor

The view from our window is restricted. It is of a steel container,almost near enough for us to reach out and touch. It tells us that it is “super-heavy” and capable of holding “32,500 kilos gross.” You would not want this thing falling on your foot. There are some eighteen thousand such containers on our vessel, stacked in tiers twenty high, eleven below decks and nine above, ranged in ranks from bow to stern.

We are passengers – the only passengers – on the three-month maiden voyage of the CMA CGM Bougainville, one of the world’s largest container vessels. We live in “the castle”, a tall thin tower amidships, surmounted by the bridge, where everyone from captain to galley-hand is housed. (We must hide somewhere else if we are attacked by pirates, but we mustn’t tell you where that is). Our Leviathan is a colossus. One perambulation of the deck is a half-a-mile walk. Most days we complete several circuits. Most days too we  spend time on the bridge. It is a huge privilege to be allowed to visit the bridge whenever we like and to see for ourselves how this enormous ship is guided on its way – even if there is much we do not understand about what we’re seeing.

CMA CGM Bougainville Hollande et Saadé

CMA CGM chairman Jacques Saadé, 3rd from left, with French president Francois Hollande, who christened the CMA CGM Bougainville at Le Havre on October 6, 2015

Our voyage from Southampton has taken us to European ports, through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal, to ports in China, South Korea, and Malaya. Now we are on the long haul home. This is no cruise. We are spared round-the-clock forced-feeding, tacky stage-shows, and – we hope this doesn’t sound too unsociable – two or three thousand other passengers. To be sure, we are travelling in comfort. We are well-fed – after all, our vessel is French. Our simple cabin is sufficiently furnished. We have the use of facilities provided for the officers and crew. There is a slightly larger version of the tank you find at your fishmonger for the accommodation of live lobsters. In this we can splash around when the surrounding sea which feeds it is warm enough. There is a running machine and a ping-pong table. We are both pretty useless at ping-pong but that at least means we are evenly matched.

We have no Christmas lights to enjoy in our cabin. But we have the highlights of our voyage to savour. Among them have been the warm golden stones of Malta, the unfolding theatre along the banks of the Suez Canal, a day in the Arab Emirate of Khor al Fakkan (for us a window into an unknown world) – and, more disturbing, the menacing shape of submarines off the South Korean coast.

We have taken every opportunity to go ashore in China. Here memories compete to be mentioned. We will return in our mind to the four-storey pharmacy that gave us a glimpse of the range and riches of Chinese medicine. We will remember local restaurants, rich local food and local – and invariably friendly – people. We will remember what we learned from simply watching. For example, we sat by a children’s playground in a public park and noticed how the children, mostly pre-schoolers, played together – or rather how they didn’t play together, for of course each of these children was an only child, an offspring of the state’s “one child” policy.

Our slow boat to China (and back) has given us plenty of time – so hard to find in everyday life – for reflection. We are learning things we hope we’ll remember when we’re home. We’re learning the folly of being in such a hurry. We’re beginning to see that flying across the globe in half a day doesn’t help you understand the people you meet when you land.

And all those containers we carry raise another question – where to draw the line between what we need and what we want. No one knows what is inside these containers, but it is safe to assume that everything “made in China” – that’s to say about everything that furnishes our lives these days – is sealed within them. The question is what proportion of this vast cargo actually contributes to our well-being.

Above all there is the immense presence of the sea itself – the sea which we experienced in some at least of its many moods. Even as passengers with no responsibility for bringing us all safely to harbour, we are learning a fresh respect for the sea. What is the little parcel of dry land to which we cling other than a tiny and precarious bridgehead thrust into the waters  that always threaten to return and engulf us? Tsunamis and rising sea levels should at least suggest that thoughts are not altogether far-fetched.

We trust that when we step ashore at Southampton we will not forget what this voyage has taught us. Above all, we hope that we will not forget the Filipinos. The Bougainville is commanded by a French captain and most of his officers are French, but the rest of his crew are all from the Philippines. So it is on most of the world’s container vessels. The round-the-clock maintenance work is done by Filipinos. On back-to-back tours of duty, they  are away from home for nine months at a stretch. But they always seem to be smiling. In this troubled world, they would certainly want to join us in wishing you and yours a joyful Christmas and health and happiness in the New Year.

anchorThe CMA CGM Bouganville sails in the weekly French Asia Line 1 service, 84 days round trip from Southampton via Dunkirk, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Zeebrugge and Le Havre, through Malta and Suez to Khor Fakkan, Yantian, Tianjin, Dalian, Pusan, Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo, Yantian, Port Kelang and back via Suez and Algeciras to Southampton. Each ship in this line carries up to ten passengers in five cabins.

For further details on booking passage on this route or any other cargo voyage please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or e-mail PassageEnquiry@aol.com

“Shipping Network” – Holidays in the hold – The Cruise People’s Kevin Griffin says take a trip on a cargo ship to get under the skin of shipping

This article appears in the December 2014 issue of “Shipping Network,” the official magazine of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers.

Holidays in the hold    by Kevin Griffin

CMA CGM Andromeda © Walter Rademacher

The UK-registered 2009-built CMA CGM Andromeda carries ten passengers in two twin cabins and three doubles

As many shipping people are aware, there are about 300 passenger-carrying cargo ships on world trade routes, ranging from shortsea vessels to the world’s largest container ships. These vessels, all built in recent years, are limited to a maximum of twelve passengers each, above which they must carry a doctor.

Still, it never fails to surprise us the number of people engaged in shipping who do not realise that cargo ships might carry passengers. Twice, we have had booked passengers to board in Long Beach who were told by the local agent that their ships did not carry passengers!

As container ships displaced cargo liners in the 1970s, much cargo-passenger activity faded away, but over the years the practice has been revived as the concept was introduced to container ships. The first container line to carry passengers was Hamburg-Süd in 1985.

The changed nature of the chartering of container ships today can, however, cause problems for would-be passengers. While once owners operated their own ships, today’s fleets are divided into owned, leased and chartered vessels, and since 2008 many of the latter have been operating on some very short charters.

This particularly affects Germany with its shipowning tax saving plans. When ships change charterers or are withdrawn from one route and moved to another this causes problems for passengers This is something passengers are made aware of when they book of course, but it’s still a disruption.

To take a German example, Niederelbe Schiffahrtsgesellschaft Buxtehude (NSB) turned to passenger carrying after an unusual start. Managing newly-built container ships owned by many individuals investing in the 1980s and 1990s ‘KG’ tax saving schemes, it set aside accommodation for the owners’ holidays.

But when investors did not make use of the cabins NSB offered them to the public. It now operates about 40 passenger-carrying container ships on routes that are determined by charterers such as CMA CGM, Evergreen Line, Hanjin, MSC and Zim.

Chairman’s call

CMA CGM owns 75 passenger-carrying cargo ships, 30 of which are registered in London. After adding the privatised CGM to CMA to form CMA CGM in 1996, chairman Jacques Saadé decided that new container ships should have passenger accommodation, usually for eight or 10 passengers. This was his way of commemorating famous French liners such as the Normandie and the France.

CMA CGM’s Panama Direct Service between Europe and Australia and New Zealand is fully booked eighteen months in advance. A round voyage takes 84 days and one-way bookings are also accepted. But while cabins for voyages to Australia are full, trade with China means that there is still plenty of space for those wishing to travel to and from the Far East. CMA CGM carried 874 passengers during 2013.

Grande Costa d'AvorioFor its part, Grimaldi Lines provides passenger accommodation in about 35 cargo ships. As they are of a unique design, they are the only cargo ships offering inside cabins. Other lines have a maximum age limit of 79, but Grimaldi will accept passengers up to 85. Its most popular services run from Tilbury to South America and from Southampton to the Mediterranean and Scandinavia.

Hamburg’s Rickmers Line, meanwhile, operates nine multi-purpose heavy lift ships in round-the-world service. Spending more time in port, they are popular with passengers. Passengers join in Singapore, sail to ports in Southeast Asia and the Far East, transit the Panama Canal and call on the US eastern seaboard before crossing the Atlantic to Antwerp, Hamburg and Genoa. Those wishing to sail all the way round the world can connect to Singapore from Europe or North America by container ship.

Polsteam operates to the Great Lakes and has a fleet of 11 ships that accept passengers. Carrying steel from IJmuiden to the lakes and loading grain out, they offer the last opportunity to travel on a “tramp” bulk carrier.

In light of the popularity of passenger transits on cargo ships, why have some owners such as Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd taken themselves entirely out of the passenger game, while others such as CMA CGM, Grimaldi and Hamburg-Süd have upped their ante with more ships? When Hapag-Lloyd bought out CP Ships in 2005, for example, it took 21 container ships out of the passenger game.

One reason owners like passengers is that in a poor market a few passengers can add a few hundred dollars a day to the time charter return. Another, more altruistic reason, is that their officers and crew feel less isolated and disconnected from the real world, a worthwhile reason indeed. Fares average about €100 per person per day.

Kevin Griffin MICS is managing director of Griffin Maritime Co Ltd and its affiliate The Cruise People Ltd. Further details at www.cruisepeople.co.uk.