Looking for adventure cruises? Looking for bargain cruises? How about both in one! Consider a freighter cruise!
You won’t hear about them on the radio, you won’t see billboard ads for them and you won’t see commercials for them on television. But while little is known about freighter cruises, they still manage to thrive by catering to adventure seekers, students, serious sea lovers and those looking for an alternative to the more traditional cruises currently dominating the market.
Travelers from all corners of the world choose freighter cruises because they offer the best no-frills cruise values around. In addition, freighter cruise enthusiasts enjoy some of the most exotic and least frequented destinations on the planet!
Like traditional cruises, freighter cruises sail throughout the Caribbean, India, Australia, South America, the Orient, Europe, Scandinavia, the Far East and the Mediterranean, to name a few. Ports of call are vast, varied and almost always off the beaten path. Keep in mind that passengers are traveling with cargo; the opportunity for excursions depends greatly on how much cargo has to be unloaded per port. Some freighter cruises may include a handful of ports of call, while others can visit in excess of 40-50 ports of call.
Passengers enjoy comfortable and informal surroundings absent organized activities, schedules and large crowds. Relaxation and exploration is key, which is why many freighter cruises offer small libraries, TV rooms, informal lounges, small swimming pools and ample deck space for relaxing under the sun or the stars. Passengers can write, read or paint all day or they can simply gaze at the sea or whale watch.
Accommodations on freighter cruises are commonly described as “comfortable and extremely cozy”, with plenty of opportunities to make friends. The vast majority of staterooms include a full bath, a bed and sofa, a color TV, DVD player or VCR, minibar and telephone. Many also include a safe to store valuables as the typical freighter cruise is lengthier than the average cruise.
Unlike traditional cruises, freighter cruises may average anywhere from six weeks to four months. Prices are generally around $70-$100 per day, with “luxury” freighter cruises averaging up to $130 per day. Considering the duration of freighter cruises, prices total around half to one-third less than traditional cruise prices. Prices include accommodations, meals and unlimited access to lounges and libraries – basically all the freighter has to offer is included. Port charges are not included, nor are excursions.
Passengers can expect schedule changes with little notice as well as last minute changes to ports of call. This, however, is less common today than say, ten years ago. Freighter cruises are popular among people who love the sea, literally, so expect extended periods of time at sea and less on land. It’s not uncommon to read 5-7 books on a typical freighter cruise! Expect the popularity of transatlantic crossings to rise during the spring and summer months with South American and Australian cruises increasing in popularity during the winter months in North America.
For beginners, many freighter cruises offer single segment tours in order to become familiar with the experience before choosing a longer cruise. Beginners can also opt for a transatlantic crossing to start out with, which is typically less than two weeks. Longer cruises, of course, are most popular and a good example is a 75-day cruise from Savannah, GA to Africa. How exciting is that?
A great place to start your search for the perfect freighter cruise is online. A few notable websites include: smallshipcruises.com and freightworld.com. Smallshipcruises.com specializes in small ships/freighter cruises and lists several “popular” freighter cruises. Freightworld.com is one of the largest travel agencies specializing in freighter cruises. If you prefer to shop and compare by phone, contact your local travel agent.