Tips & recommendations

We asked our clients for some tips and recommendations to help others prepare for their journey. Here is what they had to say....

  • Research where you are going.
  • Take a favourite book. Mix with the crew. Go forward when allowed.
  • Realize that there will be no one to entertain you so self sufficiency is a necessity. Whether you like to read, watch videos, stare at the ocean or simply rest a lot, figure out beforehand what you think you might enjoy doing and prepare for it. One of my fellow passengers spent most of her time on deck with her binoculars. You can also chat with the crew, and even offer to cook in the kitchen (I made a cake!), but overall it is about solitude.
  • Take comfortable clothes, binoculars, camera and be prepared for a lovely relaxing time, away from computers and phones. Just enjoy your surroundings. Highly recommend freighter travel.
  • Take plenty of reading material as the onboard library might be limited, not to your taste or in your language. Consider an ebook reader (the trade off in size is more than made up by sheer capacity of books), a laptop, and a GPS is useful if bridge access is limited/restricted. Don't even consider a long trip unless you can tolerate long periods of solitude (you might be the only passenger and you shouldn't require other passengers to attend to your needs for company). Take ample supplies of essentials (a craving for Vegemite is impossible to satisify on a long crossing of the Pacific). Check carefully that prescription drugs are not banned in places you will/might visit. A supply that is legal in your home country may land you in very serious trouble in other countries. Be flexible as things change. On my journey ports were added and changed regularly (a schedule published yesterday would be out of date tomorrow).
  • Be prepared to offer your expertise, e.g. helping in the galley, (we did & cookie was an absolute charmer)... What's more, the crew will appreciate your efforts more than you know. Just remember, the Captains word on everything is final, and no discussions will be entered into.
  • Get fit and maintain fitness on board.
  • 1) If you are well organised - no problem; if not, it can be many days without what ever you forgot.
    2) Need 2 pair of shoes - one pair for ship and shore and the other for your cabin, that is, if want to keep your cabin carpet free of black soot!
  • Read a bit about the area you are to visit. Do some research.
  • Remember, you are "just another container" in the eyes of the crew, they are not there to entertain you BUT if you interact with them in a casual, friendly way you will be rewarded. Take some books (there is usually a reasonable library of books left behind by previous passengers which you can eventually add to), binoculars, cameras, a sense of adventure and a good appetite!
  • Yes, go on a cruise ship and leave freighters for my wife and me.
  • You need to be able to occupy yourself as there will not be activities arranged for you. Expect a basic standard of comfort and food as it is a working ship you get the standard that the rest of the crew get.Go with a positive outlook. There is little, if any access to outside communication, ie no internet or phone access, so you will be cut off for periods of time. It was great for me, but one of the others found that quite difficult. If you have any specific food you like or sweets, take them with you as there isn't likely to be a shop aboard.
  • Don't expect to be entertained ; if you are not " self contained " as far as looking after yourself and what you do every day then don't travel on a cargo ship.. For me it was sheer heaven being the only passenger with a ship to explore, and enjoy, and a crew to meet at meals etc.
  • Ship only had two cabins - one double and one single. Was the only passenger for half of the trip and so spent 90% of the time with the crew - very different journey to spending most of the time with other passengers - for those interested in all aspects of the ship, choosing one with very limited passengers is the way to go.
  • Be prepared to spend time alone or with your partner. Time in port is at your discretion - no help given - can be a bit of a shock, the first time in some ports! Be able to accept change, delays, perhaps the different ways of other passengers (if any!). Show respect for Officers and crew. Entertainment is self-made. Be prepared to adapt to change as it occurs.Take sea-sick tablets - no stabilizers!
  • I would do all the above again except that I might also have a 3Gs phone so that I could send e-mails from the laptop through the 3G network when in Port. I think that I would also take a shortwave radio.
  • Take a phrasebook in the language of the ship's officers/crew. It opens a lot of doors.