Freighter Cruises (on a Cargo Ship) – Options, Passenger Cabins, Cost, FAQ

Freighter cruising on a cargo ship

Bored of cruises and looking for something different (not fun and entertainment in this case) in the sea? Have you ever tried a cruise on a cargo ship? Read this article and decide if a freighter cruise is for you. What is a freighter cruise, anyway? It is another way of cruising – on a container ship. How is that possible? Is it safe? So many questions get in mind right away. We will answer them all.

Time – the main attraction of a freighter cruise. You get one of the most valuable things in life – time for yourself. Time to escape from everyday life full of hassle, time to rest and relax, time to do nothing, think, learn, meditate, to work on a personal project that is so important for you. It is like a wellness retreat for your mind.

What are the destination options?

Really, you can get on a cargo ship to almost anywhere in the world. The companies that offer freighter cruises offer World cruises – long and short term, Transatlantic and Transpacific cruises, cruises in Europe, Asia and Australia, cruises to South America. I guess anywhere – where they deliver cargos.

There is an option to get your airfare and accommodation through the freighter cruise. The only difference would be – it is better to have 2 days of pre-stay near the port. Cargo ship arriving is not so good scheduled as a usual cruise ship.

Important to know

Freighter cruises are definitely different from normal passenger cruises. That is why they have their rules to follow. Different companies may have some extra restrictions but in general they are:

  • Medical insurance with evacuation cover
  • Minimum and maximum age
  • Valid passport and visas
  • There is no entertainment
  • You have to be in a good health condition (there is no doctor)

Freighter ship is perfect for meditation or learning something new. Get ready in advance study books or learn basics of yoga. Who said, there is no entertainment on a cargo ship? You can entertain the crew with your awkward beginner asanas.

Safety on a cargo ship

Passengers’ safety and security is provided as on any other ships. You should not worry about it. Ships go through all the controls they have to whenever is required. There is still a risk of pirates activity but as anywhere else. Big and fast ships are attacked less. Small ships stay away from risky zones.

Passenger cabins

A freighter cruise does not mean spartan conditions. Cabins depend on a cargo ship type and year it is made. Spacious ocean view cabins high above water are a common thing. On some ships you will have to bring 2 pair of shoes minimum – 1 for the cabin and 1 for walking on the ship outside of the cabin. So much they care about cabins.

A passenger cabin is as good as any other cabin on a normal cruise. You will have your own room, bathroom, mini fridge, towels and weekly housekeeping services. No Wi-Fi though. Ships have some communicating devices and internet but as soon as you are in the open ocean, it is just you and your book.

Other amenities

As we have mentioned, there is no entertainment on the cargo ship (unless you plan to show off some yoga asanas, sing, lecture or read poems to the crew yourself). Still, some ships have some nice stuff onboard. Some ships have small pools and saunas. Barbecue parties with the crew happen too. Some may have a gym or even a very small bar. You will have enough food and will be eating with the crew.

Shore leaves

Do not worry about being stuck on a ship. Freighter cruises allow you to get off the ship and explore the shore. You will have up to 12 hours for it. Sometimes 2 or 3 days. It depends on the ship’s schedule. But do not expect any certain time frames and promises. Cargo ship’s schedule can change a lot. Departure and arrival to the final destination are estimated too. Be flexible and understandable. On a freighter ship you have to follow their schedule and obey rules.

Tips for those, who already bought a freighter cruise

  • Get ready to mix with the crew. If something is not allowed, they will let you know.
  • Make sure you planned what you will do. Books, board games, binoculars.
  • Take books or board games you don’t need any more at home. You can leave them there for next passengers.
  • Pack comfortable and warm clothes and shoes.
  • Offer help on the ship. Some physical activity is always good when traveling. You can even offer help with cooking.
  • Do not forget to pack your basic medicines like for headache or stomach pain.
  • Pack a swimsuit if your ship has a pool.
  • Get ready some money for tips, they are not included in your cruise price.

Tips for those, who is planning a freighter cruise

Check out those features to get to know what to expect from a freighter cruise:

  • Lots of days in the sea doing nothing
  • Lots of stairs to walk if you are not planning to stay in your cabin
  • Changing weather conditions (seasickness chance is way higher)
  • Schedule and ports can change
  • It is another chance to travel one-way by sea/ocean
  • Freighter cruise – is an electronic detox, you can still bring your laptop for offline work
  • You will have to book it as early in advance as possible

If all the above did not scare you away, go on reading:

Cost of travel

The price for a freighter cruise differs a lot depending on a company, ship and destination. Usually it is about 100-200 dollars per day. This is not the case when you try to save money on cruising (if your main goal is to save money or to find a cheap deal – check out our article about repositioning cruises). Usually food, accommodation and port fees are included in the price.

Another thing – though the cost per day sounds low, the whole trip costs a lot because freighter cruises are really long. To make it cheaper, you can choose a section instead of a whole round trip and plan your traveling around that section.

Companies that offer freighter cruises

Here is a list of companies (and links to their official websites) who offer to cruise on their cargo ships with containers. That is not all, if you know any other good and trustable companies, let me know about your experience in comments and I will add them to this list.

Maris Freighter Cruises


Grimaldi Lines

* If you need help with finding and booking a freighter cruise – contact us. Travelrows LLC will be happy to assist with a cruise on a cargo ship or with any other types of cruises.

* If you think that some great freighter cruise company is not mentioned here, leave it’s name with your review in comments and I will add it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many passengers can travel on a cargo ship at one time?

Very little. From 2 to 12, depends on a ship size. Usually 2 or 4 cabins are available on the whole cargo ship. Why only 12? First of all, there are just a few cabins, secondly – ships that carry less than 12 passengers are not required to have a physician onboard. The cargo company will not provide a doctor onboard just for 1 or 2 extra passengers.

Is it safe for a woman to cruise alone on a cargo ship?

If it is a cargo ship and a company that sells freighter cruises – yes. Make sure, you are buying a freighter cruise, not just hitchhiking. By the way, pregnant women are not allowed on cargo ships.

What does it mean there is no doctor? 

Not every cargo ship has medical personnel. Before purchasing a freighter cruise find out is there a doctor or not. If you think that it is not a safe way to cruise without a doctor onboard, choose another way of sailing.

What people usually sail on a cargo ship?

Though there is an age limit for cargo ships, there still can be kids and retired citizens. But most of those who travel this way are self-employed adventurous people who can afford long term traveling and love new experiences.

Why cargo ships is not a good idea for children or seniors?

Kids are bored quick on a cargo ship. At first, it is a lot of fun to run around, explore the ship and how it works. But after that, kids will be just whining and begging for wi-fi. When it comes to seniors, there is a problem with medical assistance on the ship and lots of stairs to walk. If you are ok with what I mentioned, kids and seniors are welcome!

Isn’t the crew annoyed by passengers or talks?

Not a tall. For them it is a kind of fun to, to see and meet new people. To share great stories or adventures they had in their freight career. If you worked on a cargo ship and had experience of working with passengers on it, leave your opinion and other useful information in comments.

When is the best time of year to go on a freighter cruise?

To figure out the season and when to sail you need to know your itinerary. Depending on where you go and your weather preferences you can pick the month or season. Remember, that sometimes it is worth getting warm clothes and sail in cold weather to see the beauty of winter season. The only season I would recommend to avoid – is hurricane’s.

What are combi-liners?

There are some ships that combine cargo function with normal cruise ship comfort. Usually they can accommodate much more than 12 people and it is more of a touristic type rather than experiential. My opinion – there is no point of getting on such a ship, unless it has some interesting and unique destinations and ports of call.

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