Traveling on a Cargo Ship: Slow Travel Across Oceans

Traveling on a cargo ship can be a unique and adventurous way to experience slow travel across oceans. Unlike traditional cruise ships, cargo ships are primarily designed for transporting goods, but some companies offer a limited number of cabins to passengers. Here are some aspects to consider if you’re interested in this unconventional mode of travel:

Traveling on a Cargo Ship

Booking a Passage:

  • Research companies: Several shipping companies allow passengers on their cargo ships. Companies like CMA CGM, Grimaldi Lines, and Hamburg Sud offer passenger services. It’s essential to check their policies, routes, and availability.
  • Limited cabins: Cargo ships have a limited number of cabins available for passengers. It’s advisable to book well in advance, as spaces can fill up quickly.

Duration of the Journey:

  • Slow travel: Cargo ships are not designed for speed. Trips can take much longer than traditional cruises, often ranging from a couple of weeks to a month or more, depending on the route.

Cabin Facilities:

  • Basic amenities: Passenger cabins on cargo ships are typically simpler than those on cruise ships. Expect basic facilities, such as a bed, desk, private bathroom, and possibly a small lounge area.
  • Bring essentials: Unlike cruise ships, cargo ships may not have shops or entertainment facilities. Be sure to bring books, music, and other forms of entertainment for the journey.

Daily Routine:

  • Ship life: Passengers are usually allowed to move around the ship, with common areas like the dining room and lounge accessible. However, it’s essential to respect the crew’s working areas and schedules.
  • Meals: Meals are often served in the officers’ mess, and passengers may have the opportunity to dine with the crew.

Safety and Health Considerations:

  • Health facilities: Cargo ships may not have extensive medical facilities, so passengers should ensure they are in good health before embarking on the journey.
  • Safety drills: Passengers are typically required to participate in safety drills and adhere to safety regulations on board.

Ports of Call:

  • Limited stops: Cargo ships have specific ports of call for loading and unloading cargo. While passengers may have the chance to disembark at some ports, there might not be as many opportunities for onshore excursions compared to traditional cruises.


  • Affordable option: Traveling on a cargo ship can be more budget-friendly than a luxury cruise. However, costs vary depending on the shipping company, route, and duration.

Document Requirements:

  • Visas and permits: Check visa and entry requirements for each country the ship will visit. Passengers are responsible for obtaining the necessary visas and permits.


While cargo ship travel may lack the glamour and amenities of a luxury cruise, it offers a unique and contemplative experience for those seeking a slower pace and a closer connection to the open sea. Be sure to do thorough research and consider your preferences before embarking on such a journey.

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