Cruising on a container ship

Below is a report by one of our clients about her experience of travelling on container ships.

By Heather C.


If you are travelling on a freighter for the first time, a short trip is recommended as it is vastly different from passenger ship cruising.


The main difference is that there is no organised entertainment on board, you need to bring with you a supply of reading material, pack of playing cards and map of the region. With the introduction of e-readers carrying lots of books is almost a thing of the past, as they hold up to 300 books in a small device. There is a small library on board, but most of the books are in the German language and the English books are predominantly for men. A laptop is also a good tool to have as you can write a journal of your trip as you go and also download any photos you may have taken.


As the freighter is a working ship with the officers and crew working various shifts, meals are at regular times to suit. Meals for the passengers are taken in a dining room shared with the Captain and Officers and are of a very high standard. We have been very fortunate to have had first class chefs providing three nourishing meals every day. So now the trick is to try and stay fit, so walking the deck is one option, to look at the ever changing mood of the ocean or the sighting of flying fish or dolphins, or utilising the small gymnasium. Also most small to medium size container ships do not have a lift (elevator) between decks, so each day hundreds of stairs are climbed to reach your cabin on the 7th level from the walking deck, laundry, and dining room.


You need to have a certain level of fitness and anyone with a disability or mobility issue would not be suited to this type of travel. I also observed that every external surface of the ship is steel or metal, a very harsh environment with a constant noise and vibration coming from the engine and reefers (refrigerated containers). But the interior of the ship, cabins, dining rooms and lounge areas are tastefully decorated with appropriate artwork, a real highlight of the decor. We have stayed in the Owner’s cabin on a number of occasions and the furnishings and fittings are modern and very comfortable. You can easily spend time relaxing quietly in your cabin on comfortable lounges, with a desk and lamp for laptop, together with a small bar fridge for drinks, iced water and fruit.


Being the only woman on board with German and Filipino officers and Filipino crew was never a problem. Everyone treated me with respect, they called me Marm or Madam and even had a party to celebrate my birthday.


Freighter travel is more about the journey than the destination. We found that being able to go ashore at some destinations is becoming more difficult as the growing need for security and port restrictions are imposed.  


With only a limited number of passengers on board (5 or 6) you have the run of the ship, having access to all areas, even the Navigation Bridge which can be a great place to view arriving or leaving port, or in our case travelling through the Suez and Panama Canals.


Travelling by freighter is a wonderful way to see the world, my husband and I prefer this type of cruising to the regular passenger ships and would recommend it to those who like a little adventure.

Bon Voyage – Heather C.


It is certainly not for everyone but we have been fortunate to have been able to enjoy trips by container ships over recent years, the majority of these being owned and operated by German companies.