5 Cool Cargo Ship Cruises

5 Cool Cargo Ship Cruises

Conjure an image of what’s it is like to go on a cruise. Are you picturing buffet dinners? On-deck spinning classes? Retirees playing shuffleboard? Many cruises really are like that. But if you’re looking for a different sort of cruise scene consider traveling by cargo ship.

Cargo ship travel is the un-cruise. There’s nothing fabricated about it. Every day thousands of freighters ply the high seas. Some of them have extra state rooms and accept passengers to tag along for the ride. This is as “real” as travel gets.

Of course, cargo ship cruising is not for everyone. Cargo ships don’t have swimming pools, evening entertainment, rock climbing walls or organized mixers on Lido decks. Go on a cargo ship cruise and there might be as many as four or five other paying passengers like yourself. Or, you may be the only one. And while cargo ships often have comfortable sleeping quarters they’re unlikely to be luxurious.

To book passage on a cargo ship you can go directly through some shipping lines. But we recommend working through a travel agent that can vouch for the quality of the food and accommodations and can make sure your itinerary includes sufficient shore leave time. One of the best agents for cargo ship cruises is Intrepid Travel. Here’s a look at their five cool cargo cruise ship itineraries:

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Tahiti

Tahiti is teaming with small beach-filled islands. So what better way to see the country than by boat? Of course, you don’t want to spend your entire trip on a boat. The itinerary of Intrepid’s Tahiti cargo ship cruise is 14 days long; 12 of those days include shore time. And on every day you’ll have gourmet meals made from local produce and fresh-caught fish. Visit island outposts, gaze upn green jungles and jump into swimming holes . . . if the tiki gods allow it.

Departs from: Papeete | # of days: 14

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England to Argentina

Wow! One working container ship. One month. Three continents. The exact itinerary of this Intrepid freighter cruise depends on the cargo being carried by your specific ship. Typically, this cruise calls upon ports in Belgium, France and Spain before stopping in Casablanca. From there you’ll bounce around West Africa—the opportunity to explore in Senegal, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Guinea are all possible—before heading out across the Atlantic. You’ll make your South American landfall in Brazil, visiting Rio and up to three other Brazilian ports, before stopping in Montevideo, Uruguay on the way to your final destination, Buenos Aires.

Departs from: Tilbury, UK (near London) | # of days: 32

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Italy To Israel and Back

Venice is one of the world’s great, ancient sea ports making it the perfect location from which to start your cargo cruise exploration of great, ancient Mediterranean civilizations. The first stop on this Intrepid cargo cruise is Piraeus (the port adjacent to Athens, Greece) for a visit to the Acropolis. Then you head to Israel, where you’ll have enough shore time to experience Jerusalem (one of Spot Cool Stuff’s favorite cities in the world) and the Druze villages around Haifa. On the return trip to Venice you’ll make port stops in Turkey, by ruins of Ephesus, and in Ravenna, Italy, an ancient city that’s connected to the Adriatic by a canal and that’s teaming with early Christian monuments on the World Heritage List.

Departs from: Monfalcone, Italy (near Venice) | # of days: 15

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Northern Europe to Western Africa

Dakar is known as “the Paris of Africa”—the Senegalese capital has that sort of high culture, romantic vibe and outstanding food. (Dakar might also be known as “the Paris of Africa” because they speak French there and have snooty taxi drivers). What better way to get to Dakar from Europe than by freighter? Intrepid’s two week cargo ship journey starts in Amsterdam and calls upon ports in Germany, England and Belgium before steaming for Senegal.

Departs from: Amsterdam | # of days: 14

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England and the Aegean

We saved our favorite of Intrepid’s cargo ship cruises for last. The itinerary starts with port stops in a few cities of Europe’s coolest yet least-visited port cities: Bristol (England), Flushing (Netherlands), Antwerp (Belgium) and Setubal (Portugal). Then there’s a stop in exotic Casablanca before your cargo ship heads into the Mediterranean. Explore the full length of what is arguably history’s most important body of water. Stops include ports in Greece, Turkey, Italy, Egypt and Spain before your ship returns to England.

Departs from: Southampton, UK | # of days: 35

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Responses

  1. Chris says:

    I would like to travel in a cargo ship from England to Argentina with my family in next year. Great info here. Thanks.

    [Reply to this comment]

  2. Liz | Two Weeks to Travel says:

    I’ve only recently heard about the concept of going on a cruise on a cargo ship. The room actually looks way nicer than I thought, something to consider. Thanks for sharing the info :)
    Liz | Two Weeks to Travel recently posted..Get the Lowest Cruise Prices – AnytimeMy Profile

    [Reply to this comment]

  3. Lily says:

    amazing pictures! The views are awesome and pretty! How I wish I could go and travel there. Thank you for sharing this!
    Lily recently posted..Scenic Cruises EuropeMy Profile

    [Reply to this comment]

  4. Eric says:


    Twitter:
    Tahiti is a little hard to get to but man is it beautiful! There’s no stress in a day that that clear blue water can’t cure.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Michelle Reply:

    With flights leaving Los Angeles everyday non stop to Tahiti it’s very easy to get there and it’s only an 8 hour flight.

    [Reply to this comment]

  5. Chad H says:


    Twitter:
    I heard about these cruises a while back and have always been intrigued. One day I’m going to have to try one out. I’m thinking Tahiti. Thanks for one of the more informative post on the topic.
    Chad H recently posted..Port Canaveral Raises the Cost of ParkingMy Profile

    [Reply to this comment]

  6. Jennifer Choban says:

    Great idea on something that there is not a lot of information about out there. It’s always great to have an alternative to the plane!!
    Jennifer Choban recently posted..Big Fat Impressions from my Greece HolidaysMy Profile

    [Reply to this comment]

  7. Rich says:

    Cruises are the best, I went on one this past summer and it was by far one of my favorite vacations.

    The only problem is how expensive all the drinks are on the ships.
    Rich recently posted..Funny Stories in Las VegasMy Profile

    [Reply to this comment]

  8. Judy says:

    Thanks for all the helpful information about cargo ship cruising which I look forward to with great enthusiasum however, at this time I’m not quite ready financially but in due course this is what I anticipate!

    I am fit healthy and experienced in luxury cruising but would love to find people who are of the same mind to explore places anywhere in the world on cargo ships. I am an attractive educated Australian woman of 62

    Any suggestions on how to find adventuous companions who also read and converse?

    I can be reached at 255 N El Cielo Rd, Suite 140-433, Palm Springs, Ca 92262 USA

    [Reply to this comment]

    Jackie J Reply:

    I am interested in a cruise with a cargo ship as well. Send me an email to gypsyj@email.com

    [Reply to this comment]

    Kevin Reply:

    Looking for a travel companion and would love to try a cargo ship. I’m a 51 year old single male who lives in California & Colorado in the USA. I’m 6’2″, 220lbs, have all my hair and am spontaneous. Would love to her from like minded females!!

    Kevin
    Lv4wine at yahoo

    [Reply to this comment]

  9. bj says:

    How can I travel by cargo or container ship from Hawaii to Canada, the US Mainland, or Mexico??
    How do I arrange this?
    Mahalo for any help!
    aloha
    BJ

    [Reply to this comment]

  10. uklahori says:

    Thank you for the very informative blog. I and my husband are due to set on our freighter trip soon organised by Sea Travel Limited – seatravelltd.co.uk and we have told a few people about our freighter travel plans and we have had wonderful responses. A lot of our friends expressed interest in going, and I referred them to your blog as it has been very helpful. By the way Sea Travel Limited has been very efficient and responsive. If anybody is interested their contact email is mail@seatravelltd.co.uk
    Regards,
    K. Wheeler

    [Reply to this comment]

  11. Hugh Webb says:

    Hi,
    My wife and I would like to travel in a cargo ship from Australia to Europe next year (2012). Our preference is for a French ship. Can you help with information?
    Thanks in anticipation and kind regards,
    Hugh Webb

    [Reply to this comment]

  12. Johnny Céspedes Delgado says:

    I would love to have information on how to get an opportunity to work on board of one those cargo ships. I did worked before on some different cargo ships (Panamanian flag, Cyprus flag), also on a cruise ship of the Carnival Cruise Line. But is been a while since, and now I would like to go back. Please any information how , where or whit whom I need to talk to get a job on board a cargo ship. Thanks in advance.
    Johnny
    johnnydelgado79@yahoo.com
    0523114565571

    [Reply to this comment]

  13. CJ says:

    Just came across your article. I had a wonderful experience. Just finished a trip on Eiffel with Sea Travel Ltd – http://www.seatravelltd.co.uk. They are agents booking cargo ship travel. I went from Charleston to Egypt and had excellend service from them and the crew. Recommend it to all. You will love that type of travel.

    [Reply to this comment]

  14. Linda says:

    I have done a few freighter cruises and I booked them through Sea Travel Ltd. here are their details mail@seatravelltd.co.uk or web page http://www.seatravelltd.co.uk. Hope that helps. People might visit their site and see what they can do and offer. Good luck and happy sailing

    [Reply to this comment]

  15. Tom says:

    Hello, My main interest in Cargo Ships stems from author Alex Haley’s description of the extremely bright stars visible out at sea unhindered by light and smog pollution. Can anyone attest to this? Are the ship’s lights very bright and defeat the whole purpose? Thanks!

    [Reply to this comment]

  16. Paul S says:

    I’m interested and ready to take a trip. I’ve worked on lots of equipment used on a ships. Everything from Hydrauilics, air conditioning, to generator sets. Is there a way I can some how leverage a postion by performing such work in return?

    [Reply to this comment]

  17. Wanita Umer says:

    Hi,

    I am looking to see if there are cargo ships accepting passengers travelling from North America. If so where do they travel to and could you give me an idea as to duration and cost.

    Thank you

    [Reply to this comment]

  18. Tsveti says:


    Twitter:
    Dear Nora,

    We can assist with reservation aboard cargo ship from Europe to Argentina. Please visit our website and particularly freighter travel destinations to choose which voyage would you be interested in and we can revert with availability and offer.

    We hope to hear from you soon.
    Our email address is: mail@seatravelltd.co.uk

    [Reply to this comment]

  19. Tsveti says:


    Twitter:
    Hi Everybody,

    Sea Travel Ltd offers freighter travel worldwide. We can certainly assist with a booking. Please email us on : mail@seatravelltd.co.uk
    or visit http://www.seatravelltd.co.uk
    Hope that helps.

    [Reply to this comment]

  20. nora says:

    Hi, my name is Nora. I would like to contact the cargo ship company from U.K. to Argentina as I am planning to move with my family in mid December along with my belonging.Any useful information, please? Thanks

    [Reply to this comment]

  21. Eric Voss says:

    Do you have any options from the Philippines to the US?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Spot Cool Travel Stuff Reply:

    I don’t think Intrepid does but you can contact them directly and ask. There seems to be interest in other cargo ship route. We’ll put our research team on it and come out with another post.

    [Reply to this comment]

  22. dieter luensee says:

    please check, if there is a possibility, to go from israel, haifa or ashdod to mainland greece or italy at beginning of july, not later then 7.th. one way. for 1 women with a dog.
    thank you.
    dieter luensee

    [Reply to this comment]

    Spot Cool Travel Stuff Reply:

    Hi Dieter,

    We don’t run these cargo cruises ourselves. I suggest you check with Intrepid Travels and/or contact the cargo lines opperating out of Israel directly.

    Good luck!

    [Reply to this comment]

  23. cindy says:

    i need some concrete info on how to get from Panama to South America on a cargo ship. i have NO idea how to do this. thanks.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Spot Cool Travel Stuff Reply:

    Cindy,

    I so wish we could help. There’s not even a good guidebook on the subject.

    The best of the guides is Travel by Cargo Ship. In its day it was an excellent book that day was back in 1995. I don’t know how much of the info in the book is still good.

    Vacation Adventures on a Cargo Ship is a very recent book but only around 20% of it deals with hardcore practical advice. The rest is more of a travel narrative. (A very good travel narrative but maybe not what you yourself are personally looking for).

    So, if you have any inclination to write a practical guide to do-it-yourself cargo ship cruising the market could really use one. Or, if you figure out how to make your voyage and want to write a guest post about it for our site we’d love to have you.

    Good luck!

    [Reply to this comment]

  24. Soultravelers3 says:

    We love cargo ships!

    It is really a great way to travel. You can really go about any where on them and you don’t need to book them through anyone. It is easy to just book your own and go independently to exactly where you want to go.

    Another great one is the one that goes from the UK to Sweden! Fabulous new ship with great food. There were only 3 other passengers besides our family. It is a very peaceful way to travel.

    Soultravelers3’s last blog post..Family Travel Photo-Happy Earth Day!

    [Reply to this comment]

  25. Ships says:

    Well you are right. Cargo Ships travel is different that all others. You will not have good French kitchen, no spa centers, maybe one pool and fitness hall. But if you want to feel the sea-life this is the right choice definitely. I worked on cargo ship about 10 years and visited so many places – Abigan, Barcelona, Casablanca, Rio, Rotterdam and really hundreds more. I can tell you that some of these places are even better than clasic cruise destinations.

    [Reply to this comment]

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