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FAQ’s

Can I Take My Pet?

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The answer is always no. These are freighters and the Owners are simply not interested in the paperwork that is required

Can I Work A Passage?

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Definitely not – there is no way of getting a free, or reduced price fare by offering to work. This may have been possible many years ago, but modern insurance and union regulations now make this impossible – so just sit back and enjoy the voyage.

Please do not contact us with this question – we get asked this all the time and it drives me nuts! 

Can I Just Book A Sector Of A Voyage?

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It is quite common for shipping lines to allow one way bookings, or other lengthy sectors, on their longer voyages – you can either fly home, or take another ship back a few weeks or months later – but they very rarely allow bookings for small sectors of voyages, lasting only a few days.

For example, a ship which travels from the USA to Australia and back, on a round trip voyage of 50 days, would almost certainly let you book a one way voyage of 20 days – but a smaller voyage departing from Miami on a 14 day tour of the Caribbean, will almost certainly only take bookings for the complete round trip – you can’t just hop between islands, spending a few nights onboard.

How Much Does It Cost?

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Freighter voyages typically average about EURO €100-140 per person per day.

There will also be port taxes & deviation insurance to pay, which will usually add up to €435.00 per person to the cost – this fee is the same, whatever the length of your voyage. Grimaldi Voyages and CMA-CGM include the Deviation Insurance and Port  Taxes in the fare.

What If My Voyage Takes Longer?

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Freighter voyages typically average about EURO €100-140 per person per day.

There will also be port taxes & deviation insurance to pay, which will usually add up to €435.00 per person to the cost – this fee is the same, whatever the length of your voyage. Grimaldi Voyages and CMA-CGM include the Deviation Insurance and Port Taxes in the fare.

However, if there is a major alteration to your schedule and a large chunk of your voyage is lost, you will usually be offered a refund based on the number of days lost.

How Do I Book?

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You will need to contact me via email or telephone – or even by good old letter.

If you know exactly when and where you plan to travel, or you want to secure a particular cabin on a certain ship, it is best to make your reservation as early as possible – the most popular ships, during peak season, can be booked up to a year in advance.

However, if you are more flexible in your travel arrangements, there are always plenty of ships with cabin space available heading somewhere – but I would advise you to us  at least 1 months notice if possible.

We will require a deposit when you book (usually around 25%), with the balance payable a 6  weeks prior to departure.

Booking Time Needed

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I can’t stress this strongly enough – if you want to travel by freighter, you really should book well in advance – shipping lines and freighter agents can’t process last minute bookings.

Most shipping companies s will not even consider a booking request less than 14 days before your planned departure date – experienced travelers usually book around 3-12 months in advance.

Passport, Visa & Medical Requirements

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You will need a valid passport, with an expiry date that extends 6 months beyond your intended return date – the visas and inoculations required will depend on your own nationality and your voyage destination  – we will try to advise you what is required for each voyage.

However:   It is your responsibility to make sure these are in place – if you do not have the necessary visa or inoculation certificates, you may be forced to remain onboard ship when it arrives in a foreign port for which you do not have the correct documentation.

Do Freighters Have Telephone Fax & Email?

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Yes they do, but these are very expensive satellite connections – usually US$1 per minute to use the telephone and US$1 per page for faxes.

The best method of staying in touch with home is by email, this is sometimes available either for a modest fee, and occasionally provided free of charge.  Please note that Internet is not available whilst the ship is at sea – Internet requires a cable or Microwave technology – neither which exist at sea. Satellite Internet is so expensive that we almost never offer it.

Do Freighter Have Stabilizers?

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No, but freighters are designed differently to cruise ships, they run much deeper in the water – which means that stabilizers are not as necessary anyway.

If a smooth voyage is something that particularly concerns you, it is best to travel on the largest container ships – the bigger the ship, the smoother the ride.

Can Disabled People Travel On Freighters?

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This will depend on your level of mobility. Unfortunately, if you are not able to climb stairs, you will not be permitted to travel.

Are Ships Safe?

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Our Freighter ships are subjected to thorough inspection processes, just like regular cruise liners. The days of the rusty old tramp steamer are long gone!

Do they speak English?

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It’s a great thing that the sea is like the Internet – everybody speaks English. In fact, it’s not possible for a Captain to get a job on an ocean going vessel unless he speaks and understands English. Of course, everybody’s idea of good English is different – so it can be fun sometimes.

We will NEVER book you on any vessel that does not comply with this requirement.

How Much Luggage Can I Take?

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There is no strict luggage weight allowance similar to those imposed by airlines – although you obviously need to bear this in mind if you are sailing one way and flying home.

As a general guide, you would have no problem taking as much as you are comfortably capable of carrying – say 2 large suitcases – if you plan to take more than that, clarify the situation with your agent when booking.

What About Spending Money Onboard?

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You will need cash for onboard purchases – usually US dollars or Euros – credit cards and travelers cheques will not be accepted.

What about an on board shop?

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Small quantities of soft drinks, beer, alcohol and cigarettes can be purchased on board. Payments to the captain are made in cash or written on a tab and settled at the end of the journey. A limited selection of wine is usually available on board all ships. However, if (like me) you have a weakness for something, please inform us while you are booking; the shipping company will try and arrange something. Alas we cannot guarantee anything – but we will always try. Please always be aware of local customs regulations! If in doubt – ask!

The Internet

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The ship usually, can provide you internet access for emails. There is no other Internet capability at sea. Please note that this is a privilege and NOT a right. Internet at sea is outrageously expensive as we use satellites.

What About Using Electrical Appliances?

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Most ships operate on 220 volts.

Can I Ship My Car Or Motorcycle?

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A passenger freighter booking agent can’t arrange for cars or motorcycles to be transported – they can only book your cabin – you must contact a separate freight forwarding company to arrange transportation of vehicles.

If you are booking well in advance, it is possible that you may be able to arrange transport for your vehicle on the same ship that you are travelling on as a passenger – as long as the type of ship is one that carries vehicles – but you should be prepared for the possibility that you may have to travel on different ships.

What Size Are The Ships

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The largest container ships can be over 300 meters long and to 170,000 tons – of course, there are plenty of much smaller ships too!

How Many Passengers Are Onboard?

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The golden number in freighter travel is 12 – this is the maximum number of passengers that any ship can carry without having to have a doctor onboard.

Many ships will have accommodation for fewer than 12 passengers – it is quite common for only 2-3 people to be onboard – you could even have the entire ship to yourself!

There are a small number of ships that are designed as passenger cargo liners – a kind of cross between a freighter and a cruise ship. These ships will have a doctor onboard and therefore not be subject to the usual maximum of 12.

What Kind Of People Travel On Freighters?

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The lengthy duration and substantial costs of most freighter voyages mean that your fellow passengers will quite often be middle aged or older – typically well educated, retired professionals, who prefer quiet contemplation to the frantic activity of a cruise ship.

The solitude also attracts a fair number of artistic types such as writers, artists and musicians, who find that a long voyage is an ideal opportunity to get lots of work done without being disturbed.

Add to this mixture a few younger, adventurous people, who are looking for an ‘offbeat’ travel experience – and some entrepreneurial types who can run their business from a laptop anywhere in the world – and you get a good cross section of your fellow passengers.

What Do Passengers Do all Day?

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If you are looking for casinos and dancing girls, a freighter is not the place for you – but for most of our passengers, that is the whole point!

Passengers just like to spend their time relaxing, reading books, playing cards or simply sitting on deck watching the ocean go by.

What Facilities Are Onboard?

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Passengers and ships officers will both have the same standard of cabins. Most will be air conditioned with private bathroom facilities and have features such as a TV with DVD player, a fridge, and writing desk.

The ship will have a dining room and a TV lounge where passengers and crew will gather in the evenings to watch movies on DVD – most ships will carry a good sized DVD and book library. It is also common to find exercise rooms and saunas onboard.

Many ships sailing in the warmer latitudes will have a salt water pool – but don’t expect anything Olympic sized – think more along the lines of a plunge pool!

What Are The Meals Like?

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In the relaxed, unstructured routine of a freighter voyage, it is not surprising that mealtimes assume a great level of importance for most passengers – and unlike on a cruise ship, where dining at the captains table is a rare privilege, passengers eat with the officers every day.

The quality of meals are not up to the standard of cruise ships – but they are generally more than adequate, with some ships also providing free wine.

There is a degree of luck involved here – mainly whether your ship has a good or bad chef! It also stands to reason that the nationality of the crew will have a large bearing on the type of cuisine served.

What Will My Cabin Be Like?

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The cabins onboard a freighter ship were originally intended for the officers and members of the shipping company, so standards of accommodation are very high. The cabins are usually of a size that would be classed as a mini suite on a regular cruise liner!

You will usually have a bedroom, bathroom and separate day room, with large picture windows instead of a porthole – however, your view may sometimes be obscured by containers. Check with us, we can tell you the cabin layout.

Do I Need To Tip?

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No, this is not obligatory, but most people choose to offer a tip to their cabin steward and dining room steward. Often this will be the same person. Over the last few years we seem to have found a good middle ground – Stewards and the Cook get about € 10 per person per week – of course, this is provided that you are satisfied with their service.

How Long Is The Ship In Port?

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It varies, depending on the type of ship, how much cargo it needs to load and also on the efficiency of the port itself – most container ships will spend around 12 to 24 hours in port – but some general cargo ships or the Heavy Lift ships can spend 2-3 days in port.

If longer port times are important to you, ask us for advice on the most suitable voyage – you may also wish to consider the possibility of a ‘layover’ – getting off the ship entirely in a certain port and spending a few weeks there before boarding another freighter to continue your voyage.

What Happens In Port?

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When planning trips ashore, it is worth noting that large freighter ships are often required to dock at container terminals which can be located some distance from the city itself.

Most shipping lines have a local agent in each port, who will be happy to arrange excursions for passengers – or you can, of course, simply take a taxi into town by yourself – but you must make sure you are back in time, or the ship will leave without you!

Will there be a Doctor Onboard?

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Freighters do not carry qualified doctors, but one of the crew is often appointed as the ships medical officer who can attend to minor problems.

Do I Need Travel Insurance?

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On any overseas trip, adequate insurance is essential. You will require full cover for all travel, luggage and medical for the duration of your time overseas. If you are on medication make sure you have an adequate supply.

What Is The Age Limit?

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Most freighters have a maximum age limit of 79 or 80, although sometimes as low as 75. This rule is necessary because freighters do not have doctors onboard. All ships will also require you to present a medical certificate from your doctor – this is for the Ship’s Insurer.

No shipping company will accept children under 5 years of age and some will set a minimum of up to 10 years of age.

Where Can You Go?

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Freighters only travel to countries that import or export goods – so there are a few areas of the world that are hard to get to, like Alaska.

Our most common request is a cruise around the Caribbean or the Pacific Islands – we can’t do “cruises”  and these parts of the world do not get regular visits from Freighters as they don’t export anything.

It is also next to impossible to book very short voyages (see below).