If the idea of being on a cruise ship with thousands of other people leaves you cold, the options for enjoying sea travel might appear to be pretty thin on the ground. Sooner or later, it’s likely that you will consider turning your attention to the possibility of a freighter voyage.
It’s an intriguing prospect, to be sure. Many freighters that have passenger accommodation sail on point to point voyages, sometimes spending days on end at sea. If you’re the kind of person that simply likes to kick back and unwind with a few good books, and the endless rolling sea for company, this could be just the thing for you,
With that in mind, this piece would like to throw in a few things for you to factor in when considering making a freighter voyage.
Often you’ll find that cabins on freighters can be a good bit bigger than those on conventional cruise ships, but very few of them will have private balconies. If you need a health spa the size of a small Helsinki suburb, you won’t find one here. Indeed, if you crave endless, animated diversion on any level, then the supine ambiance of a freighter voyage could well be the seventh level of Hell for you.
You should also remember that freighters tend to sail from smaller, often more remote dockside locations than the big cruise ships, and they usually arrive into similarly off the beaten track places. You’ll need to weigh these up carefully when considering any airport or city transfers that you might have to make.
If social interaction is essential to your enjoyment, a freighter might not be best for you. This is a working ship, run primarily to deliver cargo. Your presence is an additional item, not a priority. Fellow passengers may be few and far between and, while you will probably get to dine in the officers’ wardroom at night, opportunities to really meet and mingle with the crew might be fewer than you think.
On the subject of food, you’ll find the choices a lot more finely honed than the endless repasts of the great floating resorts. It will often be very good indeed, and there will usually be a small lounge, ideal for an after dinner drink or two, with a television and, probably, books and board games. But, as far as evening diversions go, that’s pretty much your lot.
Also, these voyages in general tend to cost more per berth than a conventional mainstream cruise ship. But…..
If you like the idea of just watching the sinews of a living, working ship in action, then a freighter voyage can be endlessly entertaining. You won’t be force fed bingo marathons, or find yourself constantly tripping over ever present photographers. Nothing points up the ‘less is more’ ethos of sea travel quite like a freighter trip.
And this is also a real, purposeful voyage, rather than just a giddy jaunt around a series of sunny tourist meccas. There is the real, actual sense of going somewhere on a freighter voyage.
If you’re capable, even eager, to just settle in and savour the bare bones of an actual sea voyage, then a freighter trip can be a hugely rewarding experience. And remember that ‘bare bones’ does not translate to ‘discomfort’- quite the opposite. It just means that you’ll be decorously deprived of all the layers of gambling, shopping and bar hopping options that are the mainstay of the modern cruise experience.
A voyage on a freighter can be an immersive, educational, hugely rewarding experience. Is it for everyone? Of course not, But hopefully, this short piece will have given you some idea of what you might expect if, and when, you decide to take the plunge, as it were.