Round the World: Crossing The Atlantic On A Cargo Ship By Katri Lehtinen


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

Round The World On Cargo Ships By Katri Lehtinen, from her blog Footprints and Photos

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

RTW on cargo ships by Katri Lehtinen

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

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


Four-Ship Europe-Singapore Cargo-Passenger Service Offered By Peter Doehle On The Hanjin Run

Hanjin AsiaConnections to and from Singapore are now made by four 5-passenger ships of the Hanjin Asia class

Notice: No further passenger service is offered on any Hanjin route.

Now that so many European container services sail to Malaysian ports such as Port Kelang and Tanjung Telepas, there is only one regular cargo-passenger service left between Europe and Singapore.

These fast express  voyages are now available on a 63-day round trip (speeded up from 77 days) from Hamburg, Rotterdam and Algeciras to Singapore and China. The voyage from Algeciras to Singapore takes only 18 days. In the reverse direction, a fast and frequent 22-day cargo-passenger service is available from Singapore to Hamburg.Calls after Singapore are made at Yantian, Pusan, Shanghai and back to Yantian and Singapore again.

These particular cargo-passenger services are offered by four Peter Doehle-owned ships on the Hanjin route (Hanjin Africa, Hanjin Asia, Hanjin Blue Ocean and Hanjin Harmony), with bookings by Frachtschiff-Touristik Kapt Peter Zylmann. Each of the 2012-built ships has one Double Owners cabin and three single cabins.

For further details of booking passage to or from Singapore or other ports please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or e-mail

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).


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

CMA CGM’s North Atlantic Passenger Services – Round the World In 84 Days – Baltic Levant Express – Passengers In Kingston Again

The Cruise Examiner for 8th August 2016




The CMA CGM Amber and Coral sail the same Le Havre – Southampton – New York route the s.s. France once did

In January, we brought you the relaunch of CMA CGM’s Europe-Australia cargo-passenger service with four new ships. But now, with so many things happening at CMA CGM, we have decided to devote this column to bringing readers up to date. First off, CMA CGM is reviving its North Atlantic service, with four ships on two regular routes. It has also recently launched a 7-ship 84-day Round-the-World service from Ensenada, Mexico, and Singapore. In Europe, it has added four ships to its new Baltic Levant Express service that connects the UK and European ports with St Petersburg, Russia, at one end and Alexandria, Egypt, at the other. And finally, the purchase of Kingston Container Terminal may soon see more passenger trade via Jamaica.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                                             (See previous columns)

New 42-Day Cargo Ship Voyage Around Europe: CMA CGM’s Baltic Levant Express From Tilbury Includes St Petersburg And Alexandria


CMA CGM Homère and three sister ships now carry up to six passengers each around Europe

Leading French shipping group CMA CGM announced the launch of its new Baltic Levant Express service in May. Unique and innovative, it offers a direct connection between St Petersburg and the Eastern Mediterranean and provides some of the area’s best transit times. Four of its six ships carry passengers on their rounds. Here is the day-by-day itinerary:

St Petersburg (day 1)
Hamburg (day 5)
Rotterdam (day 7)
Antwerp (day 8)
Le Havre (day 9)
Malta (day 16)
Alexandria (day 18)

Alexandria (day 18)
Beirut (day 20)
Mersin (day 21)
Valencia (day 28)
Cartagena (day 29)
Tanger Med (day 30)
Tilbury (day 34)
Antwerp (day 35)
Rotterdam (day 36)
St Petersburg (day 41)

For voyages of less than 8 days duration special fares apply.


The new Baltic Levant Express service now allows for a full round voyage from Tilbury of 42 days

Six 1,750 to 1,850 TEU-capacity vessels now operate on the following rotation: Tilbury, Antwerp, Rotterdam, St Petersburg, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Le Havre, Malta, Alexandria, Beirut, Mersin, Aliaga, Valencia, Cartagena, Tangiers and Tilbury. Note: Passengers are not handled at Beirut and no embarkation is allowed at St Petersburg.

Four of the ships on this run of the “Philosopher” class, CMA CGM Aristote, Herodote, Homère and Platon, were engaged until recently on the Caribbean, Guyana and North Brazil service. Each carries up to six passengers in three double-bedded cabins. The Owners cabin costs €120 per person per day and a Standard Double €110 per person per day, while the single supplement is a very reasonable €10 a day on top of the basic fare.

For further details on booking on this service or any other CMA CGM passenger route please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or e-mail