Would you holiday on a cargo ship?
Yes, you read it correctly; it IS possible to holiday on a freight ship. But why on earth would you choose this option over a relatively cosy, shorter (albeit a little more cramped) trip on a plane? So-called ‘freighter cruises’ – long trips undertaken by frugal tourists on cargo vessels – are becoming increasingly popular. Although they may seem like a pretty unappetising prospect for many of us – in actual fact they could save you a lot of money and are an incredible experience in their own right, which many who frequently travel this way swear is unforgettable for all the right reasons.
Cargo ships spend long stretches at sea – from days to weeks – transporting our goods all over the world. They’re still an economical method of haulage despite the lengthier timescales when compared to air travel – plus these huge vessels can carry vast amounts of cargo and are less restricted in terms of the weight and nature of what they transport than aircraft are. A crew of around 20-30 men man the ships and take care of the daily running, cleaning and engineering.
In comparison (or possibly more appropriately in contrast) to the shiny-white, luxuriously polished decks of a P&O cruise ship, the vast rust-speckled decks of these huge container ships are open to the elements – perfect for a bracing walk in the sea air. Your quarters consist of a very basic suite (think budget hotel) including a mini-fridge and sizeable bathroom if you’re lucky. You can’t be reached by phone, internet or text, so if you’re planning on working whilst you’re away, then it’s probably worth thinking again. Instead, the only company and distraction involves talking to fellow guests (usually an eclectic mix of travellers from all corners of the earth) and the crew, who are more than pleased to be spending a leg of their long voyage with somebody new. There’s usually a television (but of course, no signal – so you’re restricted to watching the contents of the crew members’ DVD collection) and sometimes there are books, table tennis and even pools or small gyms to take advantage of.
Intrigued? Or perhaps wondering why anyone would travel this way? There are several reasons why people choose this method of transport over the relatively cushy equivalents. First up, there’s the price. A similar trip on a cruise ship would set you back about £1,000 more – and food and drink are considerably more expensive to buy on board. Secondly, there’s the cultural experience and nomadic thrill of getting from A to B in a little more time with a lot of unique happenings and sight-seeing along the way. For many, a long period at sea with little or no contact with the outside world and few home comforts is actually incredibly therapeutic – and for those people, a holiday on a cargo ship is the perfect escape.