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Getting to Europe by cargo ship

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
We have had a great zoom meeting with Australia, New Zealand and Europe pilgrims today (thank you again @ivar !), and one of the topics that was talked about was how to get to Europe from Australia without getting into a plane.

As a former travel agent, and the father of one, I have dealt with repositioning cruises to Europe from Australia, or from South East Asia, and I am in fact booked on a cruise leaving Singapore early March 2021 and arriving in Tilbury (London) on 16 April 2021.

An alternative to a cruise is to get onto a cargo ship, as opposed to a cruise ship, and sail to Europe. The key thing is that you need to be flexible as, for example, ports of call can be changed, and the trip duration may vary. Note also, and this is important to pilgrims who enjoy the vino tinto on the Camino, some cruise ships do not allow alcohol on board... 😄

You must also be aware that there may only be basic medical first aid on board, as there might not be a doctor on board. You will need to have yellow fever injections. And some cargo lines will set an upper age limit.

To book, you need to go through a specialist travel agency. I have only ever found one in Australia, and it is: https://www.freighterexpeditions.com.au/

Read all the details, as you may find out that it might not suit everyone's idea of cruising.

Otherwise, consider a repositioning cruise, or a segment of a round the world cruise, both which will provide comfort, entertainment and possibly a slightly more interesting itinerary.

Cheers
Andrew
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Do we have any actual statistics on the number of people who contracted Covid-19 on airplanes? Probably not, given the incubation time delay. Still, high risk activity.

I returned from a camino on a repositioning cruise. If you skip the formal dining room and go instead to the cafeteria in off hours, avoid the crowded pool area and chose any entertainments with an eye for social distancing, I’d think the risk could be minimized. Perhaps not as fun, but if it is a mode of transport, keep your eye on the goal and self-entertain.

I always wanted to be a passenger on a cargo ship. I bet those companies will be rethinking passengers, to keep the crew safer.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
I had initially started this thread in the "Australia and New Zealand" forum, in particular because I was asked to give details of how to book a berth on a cargo ship in Australia, but my post was moved here.
I should have written the title of this thread as "Getting to Europe by cargo ship from Australia".
The travel agent info is relevant to Australians, but I guess the subject can be expanded and other information can be provided for pilgrims wishing to sail from other countries to Europe.
 
Camino(s) past & future
First one in 1977 by train. Many since then by foot. Next one ASAP.
Cargo ships! What a wonderful idea! I must look into it.... I crossed the Atlantic (Mayport FL USA to Malaga Spain) by ship in 1978, courtesy of the US Navy and that was no vacation, I can assure you.

Anyone able to recommend an American travel agent who specializes in such exotica?
 
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Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
I had a very spacious cabin on the MS Anna Katrin Fritzen out of Baie Comeau to Bristol some years ago and can recommend the experience (solid north German cooking, beer at lunch and dinner, and German brandy after dinner). For a few years I have been keeping my eyes on repositioning cruises out of Spain headed westward to Canada, but they never worked for my timetable. I almost made a connexion out of Barcelona and could have scored an astonishing discount on a splendid cabin where one could take one's meals in the stateroom (after 5 weeks of pilgrim society, the cultural shock of dining with those who could afford this class of cabin would have been too much, and my Osprey had no room for a dinner jacket), but was called back to Canada early.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
@oursonpolaire
Getting to Baie Comeau would be the hardest part of that journey. Beautiful area. The drive east of there to the end of the road is spectacular.

Did your freighter cabin have it’s own head?
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
A cargo ship out from Australia to Europe can be rather expensive, but one from the Great Lakes or the Atlantic Coast, Houston for instance for those living southerly in the USA, or some port town in New England, etc, can be an excellent means whereby some braver American Pilgrims could walk from home, and choose a traditional surface crossing, albeit motor-driven, to get over the Atlantic to a coastal starting point in Western Europe.

I would suggest though not being overly masochistic, but head to the nearest cargo port, rather than the one farthest away. (although some budget questions could of course influence one's choice of port town)

As for ports of arrival, well, it's really a very interesting choice regarding how far you want to walk in Europe !!
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
@oursonpolaire
Getting to Baie Comeau would be the hardest part of that journey. Beautiful area. The drive east of there to the end of the road is spectacular.

Did your freighter cabin have it’s own head?
I took a now-expired local airline from Montréal to Hauterive, just across the river (there's apparently a very Byzantine tale about why the bishop's see was at Hauterive, then later moved to Baie Comeau), and a taxi to the hotel (le Manoir, built to accommodate Iron Ore of Canada executives, including a former prime minister) as the alternative at the time were rooms above a bar, frequented by mill workers.

I had the pilot's cabin; bathroom with shower, bunkroom with two beds, and sitting room with sofa, easy chair, desk and table. Breakfast (German) was brought to me at 8 am, as was coffee with biscuits at 10 am and 4 pm; lunch was on a tray in my room (beer or wine available) but dinner was taken with the officers. All hearty north German food. The only excitement was that the cook went berserk and attacked the captain with a knife-- he was put in the brig for the remainder of the journey and the food improved greatly, courtesy of a Caboverdean sailor, who had considerable kitchen skills. While many years ago, the price was C$180.
 

MisterH

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018 neither successful
In 1960 our family took an American cargo ship from Bayrout, Lebanon to San Fransisco, California. Along the way the ship stopped in 10 different ports. We stayed in each long enough to load or unload cargo. This varied from 3 weeks to 1 day.

On board ships there are two classes of crew, officers and others. Passengers are treated the same as the officers. Officers had separate eating areas from the rest. We all had single or double rooms. My sister and I had single rooms and my parents had a double room. All rooms had a private bathroom with a shower. My parents room has a port hole, my sister's and my room did not.

The "rules" in 1960 were that ships could carry passengers if they were limited to 12 passengers without having a doctor on board. After 12 they had to have a doctor on board.

One of the nice things was that we got to know the officers. When we got into port they would tell us what was there and help us get started on exploring, or not, the port. The ship did not stop in dock areas that had a lot of tourist stuff. Typically there would be a few taxis that would be willing to drive us around. Identifying "better" taxis was helped by the crew. There were no preplanned trips around the towns.

The ship's captain has a lot of control as to what he permits to happen on his ship. The captain on our ship allowed us passengers to buy soft drinks, cigarettes and alcohol from the low cost untaxed port stores. My parents always had a nice before dinner drink. My sister and I didn't. Alcohol consumed on the ship was what my parents, and the other passengers, bought. The ship provided no alcohol, etc.

A significant feature of traveling by cargo ship, is that their primary job is the cargo, not the passengers. This means that the timing of arrival and leaving a port may not be what you might want. For example we wanted to get into San Francisco by going under the Golden Gate Bridge in daylight, but the ship got in in the dark of early morning so that they would have the most time to work cargo on the day shift.

The passenger cabins are often called "Owner's Cabins". If my timing allows it I would definitely go again. Reading this over I find that in some places I write room when I meant cabin, sorry.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
I looked into taking a repositioning cruise from Barcelona to Houston to return from my second camino (Oloron Ste Marie to Santiago). As I live in Calgary, there was no problem getting a flight from Houston to Calgary at that time. It seemed like an interesting option to be able to rest and reflect after my pilgrimage. I did not go very far in looking into it, as all the crossings which I could find left Spain too early in the fall. I would have had to walk my pilgrimage in mid-summer to finish and get to Barcelona in time.
 
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NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
I took a now-expired local airline from Montréal to Hauterive, just across the river (there's apparently a very Byzantine tale about why the bishop's see was at Hauterive, then later moved to Baie Comeau), and a taxi to the hotel (le Manoir, built to accommodate Iron Ore of Canada executives, including a former prime minister) as the alternative at the time were rooms above a bar, frequented by mill workers.

I had the pilot's cabin; bathroom with shower, bunkroom with two beds, and sitting room with sofa, easy chair, desk and table. Breakfast (German) was brought to me at 8 am, as was coffee with biscuits at 10 am and 4 pm; lunch was on a tray in my room (beer or wine available) but dinner was taken with the officers. All hearty north German food. The only excitement was that the cook went berserk and attacked the captain with a knife-- he was put in the brig for the remainder of the journey and the food improved greatly, courtesy of a Caboverdean sailor, who had considerable kitchen skills. While many years ago, the price was C$180.
Great story! Where did the pilot sleep?

@Albertagirl
I caught a repositioning ship out of Barcelona into Miami, in mid November 2012. It was a brand new ship and I paid extra for a room with a balcony; worth every cent.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
Great story! Where did the pilot sleep?

@Albertagirl
I caught a repositioning ship out of Barcelona into Miami, in mid November 2012. It was a brand new ship and I paid extra for a room with a balcony; worth every cent.
Leaving Hauterive, the pilot alighted to a tender after an hour; at Avonmouth, the pilot was taken on as we came into the channel.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
I caught a repositioning ship out of Barcelona into Miami, in mid November 2012. It was a brand new ship and I paid extra for a room with a balcony; worth every cent.
@NorthernLight
When I was looking into this there were a lot more ships going to Miami than to Houston, where the port had been opened for cruise ships transferring from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean but only one cruise line was using it at the time. At present, the thought of being on a cruise liner at sea, with COVID-19 possibly lurking on board, is too much like volunteering for the starring role in a Stephen King novel.
 

Galloglaigh

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Lycra tribe.
CF (2017/8), VF (2018/9), Old Way (2020), VFnS (2020), CP (rebooked) (2021), VdT (ToDo)
At lot of virus hit cruise liners will be repositioning later this year.

Then again, maybe not.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Currently on a "Virtual" Camino and striding out across Castile y Leon!
As an alternative go overland: I've suggested to a friend in British Columbia that she catches a boat from Vancouver to Murmansk, Trans-Siberian Express to Moscow, train to Berlin, train to Paris, train to Biarritz.

She hasn't responded yet.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
As an alternative go overland: I've suggested to a friend in British Columbia that she catches a boat from Vancouver to Murmansk, Trans-Siberian Express to Moscow, train to Berlin, train to Paris, train to Biarritz.

She hasn't responded yet.
Vancouver to Murmansk? Do you mean Vladivostok or another port on the Pacific? My friends did it the other way around in the '80s but I think that Vladivostok was closed to Westerners at that time. They had to get off at Khabarovsk and fly to Tokyo.

In terms of cargo shipping, I would guess that there might be more chances to sail from Vancouver to Dalian to connect with the trans-Manchurian Express than there are to the Russian ports. (Failing that, I'm sure you can easily find room on a ship from Vancouver to Shanghai and then take a train to Beijing to connect with the trans-Manchurian). No harm in asking what the options are, though.
 

Colette Z

Happy Pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
CF- Finisterre-Muxia 03/17; Camino SK 10/17; Norte 03/18; Ingles 11/18; Augusta 03/19
We have had a great zoom meeting with Australia, New Zealand and Europe pilgrims today (thank you again @ivar !), and one of the topics that was talked about was how to get to Europe from Australia without getting into a plane.

As a former travel agent, and the father of one, I have dealt with repositioning cruises to Europe from Australia, or from South East Asia, and I am in fact booked on a cruise leaving Singapore early March 2021 and arriving in Tilbury (London) on 16 April 2021.

An alternative to a cruise is to get onto a cargo ship, as opposed to a cruise ship, and sail to Europe. The key thing is that you need to be flexible as, for example, ports of call can be changed, and the trip duration may vary. Note also, and this is important to pilgrims who enjoy the vino tinto on the Camino, some cruise ships do not allow alcohol on board... 😄

You must also be aware that there may only be basic medical first aid on board, as there might not be a doctor on board. You will need to have yellow fever injections. And some cargo lines will set an upper age limit.

To book, you need to go through a specialist travel agency. I have only ever found one in Australia, and it is: https://www.freighterexpeditions.com.au/

Read all the details, as you may find out that it might not suit everyone's idea of cruising.

Otherwise, consider a repositioning cruise, or a segment of a round the world cruise, both which will provide comfort, entertainment and possibly a slightly more interesting itinerary.

Cheers
Andrew

Lol I got stranded in Slovakia when my March 21st flight to Toronto was rebooked and cancelled 3 times. Then available very long haul routes home denied flying my pet dog with me so I stayed put. At one point while still trying to find a way home, I actually considered cargo ships to get back to Canada 🤣 yes my brain was severely challenged 🤯. In the end, I’ve had a glorious springtime, relaxing extended “solo” vacation and being locked down in a European country with the best covid rate containment wasn’t such bad luck. Hoping to fly late June or July.😉
 

pelerine

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte 10, Primitivo 13, Plata 14+15, Salvador 16, Torres 17, Portugues 18, Mozarabe 19
I emigrated to Brazil on a Polish container ship from Hamburg to Rio de Janeiro in 1977. The container with my household was going on the same ship. No departure date fixed - you had to be ready to go within a day’s notice. So with my three children (12, 10 and 8) I stayed at my parents’ in Berlin for 10 days, ready to be off.

Given the relatively recent history of German-Polish relations I felt somewhat uncomfortable onboard to begin with, but everybody was so friendly that we soon settled in. There was room for 12 passengers, as @MisterH said, two “luxury” apartments - for the captain and the owner - each with salon, bedroom and bathroom. The other cabins were simpler, but quite spacious with private bathroom.

The food was very much like what I was used to in Germany - good solid Middle European food with lots of fat pork, cabbage and potatoes, yummy! And great quantities which we were encouraged to consume, especially during the rough crossing of the North Sea when everybody was sick!

Apart from us four Germans/Brits there was one elderly German lady who had done this trip many times, a young Hungarian and four Poles. We were not supposed to and did not mix with the crew, except for the elaborate baptism when we crossed the equator with magnificent costumes fabricated by the crew for the occasion (since I do some sewing they hauled me in for this fabrication). And we each received an elaborate certificate, cut out of an old naval map and burned along the edge to give it patina, indicating the name we had received in this baptism.

A stopover in Antwerp had been scheduled, but did not happen. Engine problems near the Cap Verde island forced us to stop for some time and so the whole trip took two very pleasant and restful weeks.

As explained in the article in Andrew’s post ( #3 ) you do need to be flexible about departure and arrival dates; about route changes; about stopovers. You need to be “self-entertaining” - we played a lot with the elderly German lady who had done the trip so often and had brought games to play! The only entertainment offered on the ship was cinema sessions - films in Polish or Russian. Probably this is different now with modern technology.

Voilà! I wish I could go again! Can’t get off! So if you can, go!
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
Idly wondering where the Anna Katrin Fritzen might be these days, Mr Google informs me that she ended up in Bilbao in 1978, where she was scrapped by Revalorizacion de Materiales SA-- she had apparently been in two major maritime accidents, and I am pleased that neither happened when I was on board, although one took place five months before I had sailed on her. It was the second boat of that name, the first having been sunk by Red Fleet submarine T/Щ320 on the Baltic near Memel in 1942.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Currently on a "Virtual" Camino and striding out across Castile y Leon!
Vancouver to Murmansk? Do you mean Vladivostok or another port on the Pacific? My friends did it the other way around in the '80s but I think that Vladivostok was closed to Westerners at that time. They had to get off at Khabarovsk and fly to Tokyo.

In terms of cargo shipping, I would guess that there might be more chances to sail from Vancouver to Dalian to connect with the trans-Manchurian Express than there are to the Russian ports. (Failing that, I'm sure you can easily find room on a ship from Vancouver to Shanghai and then take a train to Beijing to connect with the trans-Manchurian). No harm in asking what the options are, though.
Woops! Compass way out of whack! Murmansk was where my father-in-law was in a prison of war camp in 1940/41 and nowhere near Russian East Asia!

Vancouver to Shanghai sounds incredibly romantic!
 

Zordmot

First timer Spring 2019
Camino(s) past & future
April-May 2019
In 1960 our family took an American cargo ship from Bayrout, Lebanon to San Fransisco, California. Along the way the ship stopped in 10 different ports. We stayed in each long enough to load or unload cargo. This varied from 3 weeks to 1 day.

On board ships there are two classes of crew, officers and others. Passengers are treated the same as the officers. Officers had separate eating areas from the rest. We all had single or double rooms. My sister and I had single rooms and my parents had a double room. All rooms had a private bathroom with a shower. My parents room has a port hole, my sister's and my room did not.

The "rules" in 1960 were that ships could carry passengers if they were limited to 12 passengers without having a doctor on board. After 12 they had to have a doctor on board.

One of the nice things was that we got to know the officers. When we got into port they would tell us what was there and help us get started on exploring, or not, the port. The ship did not stop in dock areas that had a lot of tourist stuff. Typically there would be a few taxis that would be willing to drive us around. Identifying "better" taxis was helped by the crew. There were no preplanned trips around the towns.

The ship's captain has a lot of control as to what he permits to happen on his ship. The captain on our ship allowed us passengers to buy soft drinks, cigarettes and alcohol from the low cost untaxed port stores. My parents always had a nice before dinner drink. My sister and I didn't. Alcohol consumed on the ship was what my parents, and the other passengers, bought. The ship provided no alcohol, etc.

A significant feature of traveling by cargo ship, is that their primary job is the cargo, not the passengers. This means that the timing of arrival and leaving a port may not be what you might want. For example we wanted to get into San Francisco by going under the Golden Gate Bridge in daylight, but the ship got in in the dark of early morning so that they would have the most time to work cargo on the day shift.

The passenger cabins are often called "Owner's Cabins". If my timing allows it I would definitely go again. Reading this over I find that in some places I write room when I meant cabin, sorry.
What an adventure!!!!!
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
We flew with our kids to Singapore and then overlanded - slow trains, tuk tuks, longboats, elephants, ox carts, busses, not so slow trains through South East Asia, across Mongolia and Russia to Berlin where we picked up two ancient Motorhomes (we had bought one sight unseen off eBay whilst sitting in Shanghai - the lovely elderly couple were happy to hold on to it for six weeks for us), then we travelled round England and central/Eastern Europe in the motorhomes for six months, before a final train/bus hop to Istanbul for our flights home - the most wonderful 15 months! We looked into cargo ships but our child:adult ratio prevented that!
 

pelerine

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte 10, Primitivo 13, Plata 14+15, Salvador 16, Torres 17, Portugues 18, Mozarabe 19
Most impressive! What was your child adult ratio? Two adults and how many children what age?
 

Pilgrim9

Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP-SdC (2017)
SdC-Muxia-Fisterra-SdC (2017)
Lisboa-SdC (2018)
Ferrol-SdC (2018)
Anyone able to recommend an American travel agent who specializes in such exotica?
One might check out the website of the firm <Vacations to Go>. Lots of information there on ocean liner voyages, cruise lines including transoceanic repositioning voyages, and perhaps sea ferries. They might or might not have some information on travel by cargo ship.
 

Shona

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2018)SJPP to Santiago Sep/Oct 2018
In January 2016 I boarded a French cargo ship in Hong Kong to return to UK. The ship LaPerouse was still on her outbound course so from HK we sailed east to Shanghai then turned round and sailed home calling at two other ports in China, one in Vietnam, then Malaysia then across the Indian Ocean and up the Red Sea, where we had to take pirate precautions, through the Suez Canal and across the Mediterranean and on past Gibraltar . We then were in the Atlantic where, after six weeks at sea (including a storm outside Ningbo where the sea was so rough we were dragging the anchor), I was seasick! So embarrassing until I learned several of the crew were sick too. Then to Le Havre in France, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg and, finally, London where I disembarked.
It was an amazing experience, I was the only Brit and the only woman, the officers and crew were either French or Filipino and the two other passengers were Frenchmen. My cabin was twice the size of an officer’s cabin, we ate with the officers and the food was excellent. Passengers could go on the bridge at any time and anywhere around the ship except the engine room. A visit there had to be arranged and with one of the engineers. facilities included a well equipped gym, an outdoor small swimming pool, a large DVD library and the use of one of the ship’s computer. Wi-fi was very expensive and emails would be sent when the captain was sending something to the shipping company’s offices. There was always time to go ashore in every port while the ship unloaded/loaded. I learnt a lot about the maritime industry from the officers and crew and there was always something of interest going on, looking at the charts on the bridge or even just watching out for flying fish and whales. And yes, you do have to be flexible. When I boarded in HK the captain asked where I was signing off (ie leaving the ship) I said Felixstowe and that is what was on my ticket. He replied, “We’re not going there!” We were going to the new London Gateway docks, which was actually better for my onward journey home. Also the voyage was scheduled to take six weeks and that is what I paid for but the storm outside Ningbo delayed us by a week. And no, I didn’t have to pay the extra. I booked my ticket through a travel agent in Napier, NZ but I think he’s gone out of business and he’s no longer listed. It didn’t matter to him that I wasn’t sailing from NZ.
it really is a marvellous way to travel.
 

NavyBlue

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy and Camino Frances. Via Francigena. Tro-Breiz in progress.
Hi,

From my able seaman and naval architect time, in previous lives :

I returned from a camino on a repositioning cruise. If you skip the formal dining room and go instead to the cafeteria in off hours, avoid the crowded pool area and chose any entertainments with an eye for social distancing, I’d think the risk could be minimized. Perhaps not as fun, but if it is a mode of transport, keep your eye on the goal and self-entertain.
Another risk is the air-conditioning system. Any regular system will recycle a part of the extracted air (e.g. 50%) in order to limit the necessary refrigerating power. Some consideration is presently given to a re-design of such systems, but it will not be done overnight.

The "rules" in 1960 were that ships could carry passengers if they were limited to 12 passengers without having a doctor on board. After 12 they had to have a doctor on board.
These rules (from IMO, International Maritime Organization) are still valid. A ship with more than 12 passengers is considered as a passenger ship, with drastic rules enhancing "the safety of life at sea" (capacity of lifeboats, for instance. Remember the Titanic...). Something every cargo ship owner will avoid!

Some merchant ships are designed for accommodating these 12 passengers, say with 6 double cabins. On the other ones, the passenger fit in spare cabins (owner's, pilot's or officers' cabins freed by staff reduction programs). An additional income for the shipping companies, but not a priority by far.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Norte and Frances Sept 6 - Oct 11, 2016
We have had a great zoom meeting with Australia, New Zealand and Europe pilgrims today (thank you again @ivar !), and one of the topics that was talked about was how to get to Europe from Australia without getting into a plane.

As a former travel agent, and the father of one, I have dealt with repositioning cruises to Europe from Australia, or from South East Asia, and I am in fact booked on a cruise leaving Singapore early March 2021 and arriving in Tilbury (London) on 16 April 2021.

An alternative to a cruise is to get onto a cargo ship, as opposed to a cruise ship, and sail to Europe. The key thing is that you need to be flexible as, for example, ports of call can be changed, and the trip duration may vary. Note also, and this is important to pilgrims who enjoy the vino tinto on the Camino, some cruise ships do not allow alcohol on board... 😄

You must also be aware that there may only be basic medical first aid on board, as there might not be a doctor on board. You will need to have yellow fever injections. And some cargo lines will set an upper age limit.

To book, you need to go through a specialist travel agency. I have only ever found one in Australia, and it is: https://www.freighterexpeditions.com.au/

Read all the details, as you may find out that it might not suit everyone's idea of cruising.

Otherwise, consider a repositioning cruise, or a segment of a round the world cruise, both which will provide comfort, entertainment and possibly a slightly more interesting itinerary.

Cheers
Andrew
My parents used to go by cargo ship from the US to Guatemala where we lived and I still live. They thoroughly enjoyed it but that was eons ago
 

TheSparrow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2019) Walked Tomar to Coimbra - Porto to Ponte Vedra - Spiritual Variant to Santiago
We have had a great zoom meeting with Australia, New Zealand and Europe pilgrims today (thank you again @ivar !), and one of the topics that was talked about was how to get to Europe from Australia without getting into a plane.

As a former travel agent, and the father of one, I have dealt with repositioning cruises to Europe from Australia, or from South East Asia, and I am in fact booked on a cruise leaving Singapore early March 2021 and arriving in Tilbury (London) on 16 April 2021.

An alternative to a cruise is to get onto a cargo ship, as opposed to a cruise ship, and sail to Europe. The key thing is that you need to be flexible as, for example, ports of call can be changed, and the trip duration may vary. Note also, and this is important to pilgrims who enjoy the vino tinto on the Camino, some cruise ships do not allow alcohol on board... 😄

You must also be aware that there may only be basic medical first aid on board, as there might not be a doctor on board. You will need to have yellow fever injections. And some cargo lines will set an upper age limit.

To book, you need to go through a specialist travel agency. I have only ever found one in Australia, and it is: https://www.freighterexpeditions.com.au/

Read all the details, as you may find out that it might not suit everyone's idea of cruising.

Otherwise, consider a repositioning cruise, or a segment of a round the world cruise, both which will provide comfort, entertainment and possibly a slightly more interesting itinerary.

Cheers
Andrew
two words "Golden Ray"
 

rick taylor

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Looking to set out on the Camino Frances next May (2014)
Golden Ray
Haha, at least the front didn't fall off on that one ;-)

We did a repositioning trip on a sailing vessel (www.starclippers.com) from Barbados to Lisbon in early spring. The vessel was at about 50% capacity with about 135 on board. Trip took 17 days. But you still had to fly to meet it in Barbados. From Lisbon we took a train to Porto and did the Portugues from there. In the late Fall the ship travels back to Barbados from Madeira (I think) this year.

As far as other cargo vessels taking passengers it's not as prevalent as it used to be, but I haven't looked into it. Chances are, if you're trying to avoid air travel, it's gonna be tough.
 

William Garza

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, The Jakobsweg
Your post set my imagination awiggle
Come back on a cruise ship from spain..think its 14 days on the ocean to get back
14 days to re adjust to the old life with new pespectives..rest the feet..quiet time with all the "new" inside
Imagine having had time to come down before the madding crowds draw undue attention from the totality of experiences.
And doesnt look too bad on tickets either?
 

Margaret Butterworth

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013 (Pamplona to Burgos)
2014 (Burgos to Villafranca del Bierzo)
2015 (Villafranca to Santiago)
2016 (Le Puy to Conques; SJPP To Pamplona)
My daughter works for an import/export agency in Fremantle, so I put this question to her. This is her response:

Re cargo ships, this is a question that we occasionally get from grey nomads wandering into the IOSA office. The first time I was asked this, I consulted my boss Steve. His answer was that it was no longer possible to travel as a passenger on a cargo ship, since maritime security had been tightened significantly after the 9/11terrorist attack. I have been repeating this whenever I get that question ever since.

However, I see there are a number a websites that say it is possible, but I don’t know anything about the routes or the conditions. Personally, I would be very uncomfortable onboard a cargo ship because the crews are all male, largely Filipino, with eastern European officers. In all the years I’ve worked at IOSA, it’s only this year that I’ve seen mention of women being signed on as crew members, and that’s in a capacity of stockmen (persons?) on livestock vessels.

If you google it, the websites that come up suggest that you prepare for boredom, stodgy food and no WIFI. Also age restrictions may be a factor.

You’d be onboard for weeks with zero entertainment and totally at the cook’s mercy! God knows how long the fresh veg lasts after leaving port. It would be a nightmare! When borders re-open, you will just want to get to your destination rather than be stuck on the high seas on a rusty old cargo ship!
 

Telboyo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
I intend to leave the UK the day Before Brexit and walkMarch -April 2019 Camino Frances
Cargo ships! What a wonderful idea! I must look into it.... I crossed the Atlantic (Mayport FL USA to Malaga Spain) by ship in 1978, courtesy of the US Navy and that was no vacation, I can assure you.

Anyone able to recommend an American travel agent who specializes in such exotica?
When I was in the RAF I spent 3 weeks on HMS Ocean, those Matelots are weird, speak a different language and have no sense of humour. It put me off cruises and all in holidays for life.😃
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
A cargo ship out from Australia to Europe can be rather expensive
From the website I see:
1) Tariff Sydney to London - 52 days from 6,760 Euros per person, twin share
2) Accommodation - cabins have private showers & toilets - views may be blocked by containers.
And there were other restrictions such as no alcohol and no WiFi

This would certainly exceed most recent lock downs for austerity and at nearly 14,000 Euros for a cabin for one person, more than rather expensive. And that's only one way. I don't think I have any of the personal and financial resources needed for such a trip. I would rather take my chances over 30 hours each ways in plane trips.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Your post set my imagination awiggle
Come back on a cruise ship from spain..think its 14 days on the ocean to get back
14 days to re adjust to the old life with new pespectives..rest the feet..quiet time with all the "new" inside
Imagine having had time to come down before the madding crowds draw undue attention from the totality of experiences.
And doesnt look too bad on tickets either?
My post-camino, repositioning trans-Atlantic cruise was 13 days with a day in Las Palmas and a day in Malaga. Nine were uninterrupted sea-going days. There was a walking track around the upper deck perimeter, a library, and some activities you could join or ignore. It was blissful. It was important to ration your portions at the buffet.


I had to google the £10 reference. Interesting bit of history. I wonder, has anybody demanded that refund?
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
I wonder, has anybody demanded that refund?
Nah. They got what they bargained for: emigration to the other side of the world. It is my understanding that a significant number found the emigration experience very unsettling and returned "home" within a few years.

And example of the different new world/old world customs was found in 1960s and 1970s invitation to a social gathering at the local war memorial hall and the line at the bottom: "bring a plate".
 

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