Cargo Cruises: Is it Cheap to Travel by Cargo Ship?

How to Travel by Cargo Ship

Cargo ships often act as passenger ships and offer real travel alternatives under the banner of freighter cruises, however, travel by cargo ship is often more expensive than you might expect, regularly costing about the same as a cruise ship! So you might wonder why you would want to travel on a cargo ship as a passenger in this way. There are several good reasons;

  • Cargo ships often cover less touristy parts of the world which are not serviced by cruise ships
  • Not only is it real travel but it’s one of the greenest forms of travel as you form a very small part of the container ships total cargo
  • Cargo ships travel throughout the year unlike cruise ships which are influenced by passenger demand, this means that cruise ships often only sail in the high season (usually the summer)
  • When you are a passenger on a cargo ship you usually get to dine with the captain of the ship and his officers
  • The standard of passenger accommodation is generally very good with most cargo ship passenger cabins having their own toilet and shower (you don’t have to sleep in a container!)
  • Cargo ships usually accommodated just 12 or fewer passengers (a doctor is required for more than this), so the cargo ship is not going to be overcrowded with other passengers

The Royal Mail Ship St HelenaThere are quite a few websites out there which specifically focus on alternative travel by cargo ship, we have listed all the sites that we are aware of. To save you time trawling through all the websites below, email us and we will forward your query to select agents who can help you book your freighter trip if the route you want to do is possible.

Although the sites below offer some very useful information we would also recommend phoning the harbormaster for your preferred passenger departure point. They will often provide you with local contacts and up to date and local information.

Useful Cargo Ship Travel Resources

  • US agencies booking passenger travel on cargo ships are: &
  • UK agencies booking passenger travel on cargo ships are: Cargo Ship Voyages, Strand Travel, The Cruise People Ltd, Pathfinder & Sea Travel Ltd
  • Other agencies booking passenger travel on cargo ships are, &
  • CMA CGM is a French cargo transportation and shipping company and is the third-largest cargo shipping company in the world. –, you can book direct or via several of the agents listed above
  • German freighters, Hamburg SED, have a useful website that details numerous routes and prices for cargo ship travel around the globe. –
  • Italian freighter company, Grimaldi Line – covers routes to and from Europe to South America and Africa., Pathfinder ( and Cruise
  • Cyprus ( act as agents for Grimaldi Line
  • German freighter company, Rickmers-Linie with cargo ship travel routes around the world. –
  • Another German freighter company, Deutsche Afrika Linien (DAL) ( have a cargo ship (Kalahari) that sails between Bremerhaven and Cape Town, again Pathfinder ( act as agents
  • Neptune Orient Lines (NOL), a global cargo transportation company centered in Singapore. –
  • FAQ’s & general information on passenger travel by cargo ship:,, A la Carte Freighter Travel &

Featured Routes

The Royal Mail Ship St Helena

There are a number of popular passenger ship routes on cargo ships, we have featured a few interesting ones below to help inspire you to take a trip which is a real travel alternative to traditional modes of travel.


South Korea (Busan) to California crossing on the Hanjin Dallas cargo ship was featured on the BBC series “Around the world in 80 days” for Children in need (2009). The crossing should take ten days but departure times are unpredictable. There are a number of other cargo ships that carry passengers and cross the Pacific Ocean which is detailed in some of the web sites listed in the above section. Contact details for Hanjin can be found on their website

The Royal Mail Ship St Helena

This is sold as a magnificent island cruise from Cape Town to the island of St Helena in the Atlantic Ocean, just south of the Equator. This cargo/passenger ship also calls in at Luderitz and Walvis Bay in Namibia where the desert meets the sea. Go to for more details.

French Polynesia

Sail around Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands over 14 days on the Aranui The Aranui is a mixed passenger/cargo ship that offers comfortable, air-conditioned accommodations for about two hundred passengers. Passengers are able to sunbathe on deck and swim in the pool. The ship operates under the French flag, and her crew is all local Polynesians.

Additional Cargo Cruise Information

Cargo Ship Voyages | The Greener Way to Travel
Traveling on a cargo ship is a unique experience. Cargo Ship Voyages is not the supplier or organizer of these voyages, acting as a booking agent only of the shipping company.

Cargo Ship Cruise ConvoyCargo Ship Travel: Everything You Need To Know (2020) | eBiz Facts
Expensive Cargo ship travel will cost you about $125-$145 per day. (Though you might be able to swing a free trip; see below.) Boring You’ll have little entertainment or social interaction.

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Passenger Freighters Voyage List – Maris Freighter Cruises
Maris Freighter Cruise and Travel Club Int’l, offering voyages from coastal and island specialties to one-way ocean crossings and around-the-world cruises.

Meet the man who has spent three years traveling the world for free…
For globetrotters on a very tight budget, or those who love being at sea but not cruise ship crowds, traveling the world by cargo vessel could be the way forward.

Travelers’ Guide To Cargo Ship Travel – Wiki Travel… – Travellerspoint
Open source, wiki travel guide to Cargo Ship Travel with information, photos, activities, maps, travel tips, and more. Created by the amazing members of Travellerspoint.

Traveling By Cargo Ship | TravellingTwo: Bicycle Touring Around The…
Traveling by cargo ship or freighter is an appealing option for the adventurous cyclist. You get to avoid airport stress, for a start. There are no bike boxes or worries about your trusty steed getting lost.

Freighter travel – Wikitravel
This article is a travel topic. Freighter travel is a less crowded alternative for crossing a sea or ocean, not using airplanes or commercial cruise ships or ferries. A well-kept secret in these days of airport anxiety is that it is still possible to book a regularly scheduled sea passage to most parts of the world.

Can you really travel around the world by cargo ship? | Travel.Earth
Traveling by cargo ship is a unique experience, and a fascinating way to see the world. If you don’t like air travel, traveling by cargo ship is an excellent alternative.

CMA CGM CARGO CRUISES | Travel around the world on a container…
Travel aboard a container-ship. With Cargo Cruises, travelers discover the possibility to live a unique and unforgettable experience by discovering oceans, seas and continents to the beat of international…

5 Cool Cargo Ship Cruises | Spot Cool Stuff: Travel
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The Ultimate Carbon-Saving Tip? Travel by Cargo Ship | WIRED
Travel by Cargo Ship. Container ships sometimes have a handful of passenger cabins—the peak of carbon emissions frugality. Getty Images.

Cargo Ship Voyages – Purveyors of sea travel – Home | Facebook
See more of Cargo Ship Voyages – Purveyors of sea travel on Facebook. There are no realistic prospects of travel much before June 2020 and severe restrictions may still apply well beyond then.

Traveling By Cargo Ship | The Planet D | Adventure Travel Blog
What makes travelling by cargo ship such a unique experience? Slow way of travelling – great for getting a feeling of how large the world is; Giving the possibility to visit ports and places that are not…

What is a cargo cruise – Insider
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Ahoy there. How to travel by cargo ship | Rail Europe (formerly Loco2)
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The Ultimate Resource for Freight Cargo Container Ship Travel
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Secret Tourism: Traveling the World on a Cargo Ship
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