International shipping lanes are busier than ever, as trillions of dollars of goods are moved all over the world. Freighters piled high with electronic products flow out of Chinese ports every day to Europe; smaller cargo vessels circle the Mediterranean sea, following trade routes that predate the Roman Empire, while other head for the New World. On each of these boats you’ll not only find the crew, but also some paying customers wanting to take a cargo ship cruise.
A normal cargo ship will hold up to six paying customers per trip. Voyages last anything from a short three day trip around the UK, all the way up to a mammoth month long voyage following the coastline from Canada all the way to the tip of Argentina. Although the place where your cargo ship docks will not look like much, you’ll end up stopping at many of the same destinations that you would do if you were staying on an actual cruise ship if you cruise cargo ships.
If you decide to take a cargo ship cruise, you shouldn’t book expecting the amenities of a cruise ship. Granted, some of the larger and more modern freight ships have facilities like a swimming pool and a gym, this is by no means the norm. Still, on the whole accommodation tends to be pretty good and you will have the run of the ship.
If I had to some up the pros and cons of a cargo ship cruise, it would come down to this; on the plus side it’s a great way of travelling around to great tourist destinations on the cheap. The main negative for me is that you do need an awful lot of spare time to really appreciate the experience and you don’t get that much time at shore (a typical stop at port lasts about twelve hours).