Taking the slow boat: travel by freighter

freighter_300If your goal is the journey and you have all the time in the world, how about traveling by freighter?

I’ve only read of a few people who have done it—travel writer Jeff Greenwald being one of them. In his book “The Size of the World,” he circled the world using every means of transportation except an airplane—including a freighter across the Pacific Ocean.

The thing is, you or I could do it just as easily. The article “Freight Escapes” in the current edition of Good magazine tells us how.

As I read the article—which interviews the president of Freighter World Cruises—I realized that freighter travel could be perfect for vagabonds on long-term travel. They say it’s best for travelers with a flexible schedule, since dates change and ports change. And in comparison to your typical cruise, “Freighter travel is for more self-sufficient types that don’t need to be babysat.” Often, the stops are at lesser-known shipping ports rather than tourist ports (although port stays might only be 8-12 hours long).

It definitely has a novelty factor. And I imagine that if had already been been traveling like mad for six months and surround by lots of others, the solitude and simplicity might be really appealing. There would be little to do but read, write, contemplate my next travels or a question on my mind, or work on other hobbies. The article mentions one traveler who spent her time on the freighter sewing—with the sewing machine that she brought with her (and with which she fixed the crew’s clothing!).

It costs about $90-130 per day, so it’s not exactly backpacker-cheap, but you have to take into account that it can cover a large distance. A trip could be anything from a 6-day cruise up the Norwegian coast to a 124-day trip around the world. The idea of being on a freighter might elicit thoughts of the most basic and industrial of surroundings, but Freighter World Cruises says that many of their freighters are outfitted with “a lounge with upholstered furniture, a library with a selection of reading materials, a small pool, and good deck space.”

Posted by | Comments (5)  | September 23, 2009
Category: General

5 Responses to “Taking the slow boat: travel by freighter”

  1. Travel-Writers-Exchange.com Says:

    Traveling by freight would be a travel experience like none other. It may take a certain type of traveler to travel by freight. It’s not glamorous and the waters can be choppy. One thing is for sure, it would be a travel experience like none other!

  2. Nouman Zeb Says:

    I agree with you, traveling by freight would certainly be a great experience. District Swabi

  3. Nora Says:

    I was scared off by the price, when I tried to justify tagging along on freighter as a green/cheap alternative to some long-haul flights last year. But I could fly three times over for the cost of a one-way freighter ticket! Then again like you say, a 6-day cruise up the Norwegian coast on a freighter might be much better value than a corresponding cruise.

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