For those looking for an alternative mode of transport and to slow everything way, way down, then traveling by cargo ship just could be something to consider. But traveling by cargo ship is not all that cheap, in fact, it generally costs something in the vicinity of $100 daily. So is it possible to travel for free by working aboard and what else should one be aware of when planning for this unorthodox mode of transport?
Traveling by cargo ship is no luxury cruise but it is a great way to take the road less traveled. Imagine the contrast of going from the relentless humdrum and rat race of life one day, to a meandering month-long cargo cruise where time ceases to be important the next! Here one will lose track of hours, days, and even weeks. Saturday? Monday? What's the difference?
Can One Travel For Free? Short Answer: Nope
Can one travel for free? The short answer is no. According to Cargo Holidays, volunteering and working abroad are not possible. Under no circumstances is possible to work for one's passage, these are extremely expensive vessels and everything is done professionally with the crew highly trained. Only trained crew can work abroad the ships.
- Qualified: One Will Need To Be Qualified To Work On the Ship
That being said, it can be well worth asking the cargo line if they can offer their passenger rooms in their cargo ships for free. It is possible to travel for free but one will need to become qualified. If this is something one is interested in, then see what qualifications are required.
- Fixed Prices: The Prices Are Pretty Fixed, One Generally Cannot Shop Around or Haggle for a Reduced Fare
Another note is that it is not possible to get "cheap" cabins and it is not possible to bring one's own food onboard in exchange for a reduced fare.
What To Expect While Aboard
As a paying passenger, one has their own guest cabin as well as access to most of the vessel. One can expect a basic cabin furnished with all the basics one will need (most have common facilities like a swimming pool and a gym). The fare also includes:
- Port Fees
- All Meals
- Use Of Facilities Like Swimming Pool, Gym, TV Room, Lounge
In terms of human company while on the high seas, there may be other like-minded travelers aboard. The captain and crew are generally quite happy to see a fresh face for their long crossings. One can expect to be invited to dine with the crew and they are likely to offer tours around the vessel for free.
What To Keep In Mind While Planning
It is important to plan one's voyage in advance as there are only a limited number of rooms for passengers. So it is advised to plan around 6 months in advance to ensure having a spot on the ships.
- Plan Ahead: Popular Routes Can Book Out Months In Advance - Especially Transatlantic and To Australia
The highest demand is often transatlantic voyages and voyages to Australia - so if one is planning on these popular routes then book it months in advance.
Tip: Cargo Ships Have Only A Limited Number of Cabins So Plan in Advance
One of the most important things to prepare for mentally as well as with practical planning is to be flexible. Cargo ship schedules can and do change - embarking and disembarking dates are estimates only. One may even need to change ships during the voyage.
- Flexibility: Flexibility Is The Name of the Game
Age Restrictions And Other Tips
There are age restrictions, but they will not affect most wannabe voyagers. Generally, the lower age limit is 16 while the upper is 78 (up to the 79th birthday). On of the operates, Grimaldi, is more relaxed allowing a lower limit of 5 years for accompanied minors) up to 84 (to the 85th birthday). That may also be subject to a medical certificate and only for certain voyages.
- Age Restriction: Generally 16 to 78 (Policies Change By Company)
- Alcohol: Generally Unavailable as This Is A Place of Work
- Internet: Most Ships Do Have Access to the Internet (If There Is No Internet There Will Still Be a Facility To Send and Recieve Emails and A Satellite Telephone)
- Pets: Accompanied Pets are No Permitted On Any Cargo Ships
Sometimes it is fun to travel to unusual destinations and with unusual modes of transport. For those planning to travel to unusual destinations (like Niger, or Papua New Guinea) there are a number of ways to get accurate and real-time information to those destinations.