Special Cargo-Passenger Sailing By m.v. Widukind From Europe To Australia And New Zealand Via US East Coast And Panama Canal

widukindThe Cruise People is pleased to announce a last-minute sailing by the m.v. Widukind, from Tilbury on May 7, 2017, via Rotterdam, Dunkirk and Le Havre to the US East Coast, the Pacific islands of Tahiti and New Caledonia and on to Australia and New Zealand.

The Widukind offers four single cabins for the 98-day round voyage and also offers one-way voyages between Europe and Australasia.

Tilbury to Sydney is 47 days and the fare is €5,119 (£4,550) per person including full board, port charges, deviation insurance and booking fee. The full round voyage of 98 days comes to  €10,219 (£9,085). And of course there is nosingle supplement!

Non-US and Canadian citizens will need full US visas for any US calls as cargo ships are not included in the various visa waiver programs (also known as ESTA).

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Port rotation for this voyage is Tilbury – Rotterdam – Dunkirk – Le Havre – New York – Savannah – Kingston (Jamaica) – Cartagena (Colombia) – Punta Manzanillo (Panama) – Panama Canal – Papeete (Tahiti) – Noumea (New Caledonia) – Brisbane – Sydney – Melbourne – Wellington – Tauranga – Napiet – Lyttelton – Punta Manzanillo – Savannah – Philadelphia – Tilbury.

To book a cabin (or two) please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 as soon as possible or email PassageEnquiry@aol.com.

Phil Reimer Writes About Freighter Cruising – His Cruising Column Appears In Ten Canadian Newspapers In The Postmedia Network

Freighter cruises long…and unique

Hanjin Amsterdam, which operates the Seattle \'freighter cruise\' route

Hanjin Amsterdam, which operates the Seattle “freighter cruise” route

 

Published: August 9, 2014, 3:00 am
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It’s not the Queen Mary 2 but they sail the same route across the Atlantic. You won’t have a crowded pool, major production shows or a casino. You will have the run of the ship in good weather, swim in an uncrowded pool and have lots to eat, but little choice beyond what’s being served. Your cabins are big and, yes, some are for singles. Don’t wait for an invite to the bridge because you are free to visit whenever you like, within reason. You can even drop down and see the men in the engine room.
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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]”

Sample of interior room on a freighter ship

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 passageenquiry@aol.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:

Freighter menu

Hanjin Geneva details

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© COPYRIGHT – POSTMEDIA NEWS
As published at http://www.canada.com – newspapers in the Postmedia Network include the National Post, The Gazette of Montreal, the Ottawa Citizen, The Windsor Star, the Regina Leader-Post, the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, the Calgary Herald, the Edmonton Journal, The Vancouver Sun and Vancouver’s The Province.

From The UK To Australia: By Container Ship From Southampton To Port Kelang In The CMA CGM Musca (And Flight Beyond)

Several months ago, our client Peter Giles travelled in the CMA CGM Musca and was kind enough to send his report. Travels have delayed us posting it but here it is now with Peter’s comments:-

CMA CGM Musca © Klaus KnepelSince returning from Australia in November, I’ve been preoccupied catching up with the inevitable consequences of two months’ absence as well as all Christmas and New Years.  I do, though, want to let you know how much I enjoyed my “cargo cruise” from Southampton to Port Kelang aboard the CMA CGM Musca.
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You had, quite rightly, emphasized the need for flexibility in one’s travel arrangements, as there are so many variables involved in the logistics of large container ship movements, some of which demand decisions with short times.  Over a long period of time our sailing date had moved from September 11th to the 13th, the 14th, then the 16th and finally the 19th.  Just the week before planned embarkation, the Southampton port agent was in contact with me advising that weekend movements in the port were somewhat chaotic due to multiple late arrivals.  Musca had meanwhile gone from Rotterdam straight to Zeebrugge rather than calling at Southampton first.  Even so, she was held off the Isle of Wight for hours before being allowed into port late on the night of 18th September with a planned departure of 12:00 the next day.  The port agent had telephoned me on the 18th to suggest I arrive at the Port Security Office as early as possible because they might be able to set sail as soon as 09:45.
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None of this caused any problem;  in fact, by arriving at the Container Port before 08:00, we avoided all the peak traffic, so my wife had a relaxing journey as my driver.  From this point on, I found my expectations were exceeded.  It’s a daunting sight to be standing on the quayside looking up at the ship’s gangway running all the way up to the upper deck:  with Musca‘s considerable freeboard, the gangway seems to go on for ever – very different to boarding a vessel like the P&O Aurora, where the gangway runs to the ship from high up on the terminal building!
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I had expected to carry all my luggage (1 large & 1 small case) aboard myself, but the port agent’s minibus driver insisted on taking my large case aboard.  Once brief reception formalities were completed, the steward took both my cases along the corridor to the lift and settled me in to my cabin on F deck.  To my surprise, although it was now 08:20 and breakfast time was officially 07:00 – 08:00, the steward (Syrel Alimpuyo, from the Philippines, official job title Messman)  invited me to come down to the Officers’ Mess, where he prepared a welcome meal of scrambled eggs with all the trimmings. Not that it mattered to me, but we did depart at 12:00.
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CMA CGM Musca
, one of twelve similar vessels on the FAL3 route, is big (11,040 TEUs, Summer DWT 131,830 tons, 347 m LOA) but is eclipsed by the company’s newest 16,000 TEU ships (CMA CGM Marco Polo, Alexander von Humboldt and Jules Verne), themselves now overtaken by Maersk Line’s brand new McKinney Møller at 18,000 TEUs.  Even so, to get acquainted with Musca is to understand the huge and sophisticated scale on which the modern commercial world operates.  If, like me, you’re interested in these things and prefer in any event not to share your transportation with thousands of other passengers, this is a remarkable and privileged experience.
CMA CGM Musca Lounge

Cabin living area

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Musca
has four double cabins on F deck (three face forward and one aft), the penultimate deck level before the bridge, and above container load height.  Only the captain and chief engineer have their cabins and office on G deck, together with a Pilot’s cabin.  On this voyage I was the only passenger, so not only did I have a very spacious cabin all to myself, but the entire passengers’ recreation lounge as well..

CMA CGM Musca is very typical of the international multiplicity which characterizes the maritime industry: French company owned and operated, registered in London (a port she never visits) and thus subject to British merchant marine regulations, captain and officers mainly Croatian plus Ukrainian and Filipino, lower ranks Filipino, official language on board being English – and there were notices on display reminding people of this fact.  ..

CMA CGM Musca Bedroom

Cabin sleeping area

Understandably, when a bunch of Croatians come together at lunch or dinner, they will speak their native language, often quite excitably;  but, since the Ukrainians and Croatians did not speak each others’ languages, there were usually interludes of English conversation, and the captain was always attentive to bringing me into discussions from my adjacent table.  I can handle Italian, German and French , but none of their languages.  The Filipino officers usually seemed to work differential shifts and took their meals in the crew mess, but I was struck by the polite and friendly behaviour of all 28 members of the ship’s complement..

Hospitality on the bridge, to which I had almost unrestricted access, was very enjoyable, where I could study the output of the control and navigation systems, monitor the charts and look up all manner of maritime details in the extensive library of reference manuals – and the watch officers competed with each other to make the best espresso or cappuccino with their fresh coffee machine.  I had expected the bridge to be out of bounds to me when a pilot was on board, but was delighted to be there during the Suez Canal transit – it might well have had to be different had there been several other passengers.
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On the first full day at sea I was given a very comprehensive introduction to and tour of all facilities and stations relevant to on-board safety and emergencies. Quite apart from the emergency procedures summarised in a folder in my cabin, together with hard hat, ear defenders, and full immersion suit, the formal safety introduction included familiarisation with one of the two fully enclosed lifeboats, as well as a visit to the “citadel”, which is a large secure facility accessed via the stern lower deck.  The citadel’s purpose is to provide impenetrable protection for crew (and passengers) in the event of a hostile boarding:  while the ship cannot be navigated or controlled from there, it does contain all forms of marine communication for continuous contact with emergency agencies, both military and civilian.  During our voyage to Port Kelang Captain Dakic organised two fire fighting emergency drills which were formally timed with all appropriate reporting and subsequent debriefing.  There is no substitute for the reassurance of knowing that everyone is quite clear what they have to do in the event of any type of emergency.
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While it is quite unlikely that anyone could actually manage a seaborn hostile boarding of a ship the size and design of Musca, all CMA CGM vessels operating in known areas of high risk are equipped with very effective anti-grappling devices around the stern lower deck – trained Royal Marine Commandos have failed to get past these, even when stationary in calm water.  When we passed through the Gulf of Aden a full lighting blackout was enforced, which meant all illumination except navigation lights was made invisible from the outside.  Again, the guiding principle was to make no convenient assumptions and to take nothing for granted..

CMA CGM Musca passes through Suez

CMA CGM Musca passes through Suez

My main motives in choosing to travel by container ship rather than simply catching an aircraft from London to Perth, Western Australia (my ultimate destination) were:  to enjoy the peace and rest of a long sea voyage, get plenty of sea air, pass gradually from one time zone to another, read and write at leisure, observe how these giants of the sea operate and how their crews live, and to eat three square meals a day – the latter being something I rarely do at home, despite being one of the minority who could actually benefit from gaining some weight!  I can say with confidence that these objectives were all very well served – my only regret being that Musca couldn’t take me all the way to Perth..
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I did miss two meals during my 26 days on board:  a breakfast one morning when I overslept (though Syrel subsequently reminded me that I could come down to the Mess at any time to get cereals, toast and coffee), and a dinner one evening when I simply had no capacity for any more food, settling instead for some fruit.  The meals were good and varied, with some amusing Filipino versions of the menu descriptions (e.g. Chicken Gordon for Cordon Bleu, Crockets for Potato Croquettes, Leche Flan which proved to be Creme Caramel).  Captain Dakic occasionally influenced the choice of menu by calling for fish as well as meat, and bringing out the ice cream or the blue cheese.  Wine was usually served with dinner, with the alternative of German lager if preferred – the only exception being while we were in port at Jeddah, when all alcohol had to be locked away in the ship’s bonded store:  “Saudi prohibition”, as the captain ruefully described it!  On two or three occasions meat was barbequed in a surprisingly large semi-enclosed BBQ facility on E deck:  there was room enough for the crew to sit and eat in the same facility, while the officers and I were served in the Mess..
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Keeping fit is a matter to be taken seriously when you’re at sea for months on end.  If you take two tours of the upper deck on Musca, you will have walked 1.5 km.  For me as a passenger, I was required to contact the bridge first, so they could advise me of any work in progress on the upper deck and they would be aware of where I was going;  I would then let them know when I returned.  One would not normally be allowed on the upper deck after dark or in extreme weather conditions and certainly not when cargo operations were underway in port.  Common sense is required on deck at all times, as much of the time no one will be able to see you – least of all from the bridge.  I always made a point of walking down from F deck to B deck for all meals, though it was a tall order to walk back up again after three courses, so the lift was usually preferred afterwards..
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The alternative, though, was the gymnasium – well equipped with treadmill, weights, punchbag, as well as table tennis and darts – although the most impressive sight was the oldest crewmember, the 61-year-old chief engineer, jogging round the upper deck.  He did this most days, irrespective of the high temperatures, finishing by returning to his cabin on G deck via the external stairs.  Even though I’m seven years older, he made me feel quite inadequate as I smiled at him through the window from my air conditioned comfort in the passenger lounge.  Then, if you’re not hot enough, there’s always the sauna!  Better still was the lure of the swimming pool, freshly filled with seawater pumped up from the Red Sea at 32°C..
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Management gurus will always emphasize the importance of teamwork and bonding when considering how the best organisations operate.  A real sense of mutual support, as well as personal commitment, was very evident aboard Musca, and there is always plenty for everyone to do, both mundane as well as technically complicated – in fact, it is remarkable that a complex vessel of this size, running 24/7, only requires a crew of 28.  Officers and crew rotate at different intervals, from three months to as long as nine or occasionally twelve, so individuals go on leave and are replaced on a continuous rolling basis.  Any running repairs are handled according to circumstances, with any major works being undertaken in port where, if necessary, additional spare parts might have to be made available.  The ship does, though, carry a wide range of spares:  I even noticed a new piston and connecting rod in the engine room.  If additional skills and manpower should be required, company engineers are flown out to join the ship at a port of call and will stay aboard for as long as it takes..

CMA CGM Musca passenger and captain with crew

Passenger Giles (check shirt) with captain and crew

An on-deck BBQ party was organised one evening as we cruised across the Indian Ocean – this was on the starboard side of F deck, which was large enough to have a big portable BBQ and tables and benches for all to be seated.  Several of the Filipino crew were keen amateur musicians and there was no shortage of entertainment, much enjoyed by all.  I was quite surprised by the number of guitars on board, together with microphones, amplifiers and speakers.  Making your own amusement is a valuable skill..
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Extended cargo operations which seemed to go on forever in both Beirut and Jeddah made a further dent in our schedule – and we had waited a whole day outside Beirut pending clearance to get in on a berth.  Such are the routine frustrations confronting these ships – even if the vessel is ready to go, you’re still dependent upon tugs and pilot.  While the plan had been to arrive at Port Kelang on 13th October (having originally been the 11th), we were only able to get there on the morning of 15th October.  What had originally been anticipated as a 28 day voyage had been replanned at 24 days when the Southampton and Zeebrugge calls were reversed, but had gone out again to 26 days due to the further delays.  CMA CGM’s operations manager responsible for the FAL3 route had once told me all his ships had operated to schedule over the last two years;  I know now how he did that:  by moving the goalposts!  To be fair and realistic, I don’t envy him the constant challenges of his job though.  As things worked out, I had no regrets at all..
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Captain Dakic had offered me my own on-board email account quite early on.  I didn’t do this, as I didn’t want to encourage a flood of incoming messages, especially those of a casual nature.  Instead, at his invitation, I used his email account to keep my wife up to date, to confirm progress with a friend of mine who had been trying to track the ship on-line via AIS – impossible between Suez and the Malacca Strait unless you can justify the cost of Satellite AIS –  and to contact the hotel I had prearranged in Kuala Lumpur.  When I disembarked, most crew-members made a point of saying farewell and wishing me luck, and they insisted on carrying my luggage down to the quayside.  The captain had also taken it upon himself to negotiate with the Port Agent in Port Kelang for him to get me to central Kuala Lumpur after taking me to the Malaysian Immigration Office outside the port for passport formalities.  This the agent did for US$20, good value considering how far he drove me and the 1¼ hour Kommuter train ride, for which he paid, and which deposited me just 100 metres from my hotel.  It’s not the captain’s job to do these things, but these people know how to use their contacts and get things done..
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The humidity in Kuala Lumpur was very oppressive and , while I had intended to look around for a couple of days, I was not displeased to be on a flight to Perth the next day.  After a month in Australia, winding up in Sydney, I was, however, less than thrilled to be subjected to 24 hours of flights to get back to the UK.  Where was Musca when I needed her?.
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Any regrets?  Well, I should have chosen to do an engine room visit in port rather than at sea, if only to make it easier to have a conversation – though it was reassuring to see the huge propeller shaft actually turning!  Would I do such a voyage again?  Without hesitation!.
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For details of how to book a cargo ship voyage with CMA CGM please contact Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

Passage to India: New Cargo-Passenger Service Between The UK And Sri Lanka Also Provides An Indirect Sea Route To India

Hanjin BostonEffective this month, we are able to offer regular sailings between Felixstowe in the UK and Colombo in Sri Lanka on board NSB’s Hanjin Boston (above) and Hanjin Yantian, which are able to carry up to ten passengers each in two Owners Cabins, two Doubles and two Single Cabins.

The complete rotation is Felixstowe – Hamburg – Rotterdam – Le Havre – Suez Canal – Colombo – Taipei – Ningbo – Shanghai (Yangshan) – Colombo – Felixstowe and the full round voyage is 70 days.Felixstowe to Colombo is 27 days via European ports (Le Havre to Colombo is 21 days) while Colombo to Felixstowe only 19 days as service is non-stop. Fares begin at €85 per person per day or €100 per day single, plus port charges and deviation insurance.

Since Indian immigration banned passengers from travelling to or from India by cargo ship, this is the next best way to get there by sea. Although Sri Lanka is close to India the last attempt at a ferry service between Colombo and Tuticorin by the Scotia Prince failed a couple of years ago. So passengers still have to fly the last bit from or to Colombo when travelling to or from India.

For further information please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

We Sample a Container Ship Voyage in the CMA CGM Chopin From Southampton to Rotterdam and Hamburg

We disembarked early this morning from the 5,760 TEU CMA GM Chopin at Hamburg at the end of a four-night coastal voyage from Southampton and Rotterdam. More details of the voyage follow here.

For further details of CMA CGM cargo ship voyages please contact Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.