While sitting on my third freighter ride of the trip, I thought I’d do a quick summary of what I’ve learned and experienced from my ship travel so far. To review, the first of my ships was from a port near Rio in Brasil to Cape Town, South Africa. Getting to the ship was an adventure in itself.
I was on the ship for 13-14 days total. The crossing of the South Atlantic was 9 days, but I’d gotten on the ship a few ports before we crossed. The second ship was from Hong Kong to Brisbane, Australia (after my Singapore to Perth passage fell through) and was for 10 days. This current trip is from Melbourne to Napier, New Zealand and is only 4 days.
My last ship, from New Zealand to the west coast of the U.S. in late February has fallen through, but it looks like I’ll be taking one now in late March to the east coast of the U.S. Then again, I’m told that after going through the Panama Canal, that ship stops in Kingston, Jamaica, on the way to Savannah, Georgia, so I might just hop off there and not make it back to the States anyway.
In any case, here are some bullet points regarding these stretches:
• This is not a cheap way to travel. Instead of repeating myself too much on this point, let me point you to a set of guest blogs that I did for a blogger friend of mine – since you should be reading her blog anyway. A Little Adrift… Bottom line is that is costs about €100-120 a day to get a cabin on a freighter.
• Here are some of the other basic logistics of these ships. You usually have access to the bridge and can go up there and check out the equipment and be there when the ship goes into and out of port. The payment is all-inclusive. You get three meals a day at the officer’s mess. The food has been varyingly acceptable and the current one I am on actually has wine included with lunch and dinner. Each of the ships has had a small workout room (one had a small pool that was occasionally filled with seawater). The cabin you get is perfectly serviceable: my first one was a two room suite, my second one was a small single room and this one is a quite roomy single room with two single beds I have to myself. All have had private bathrooms. My cabin had a television in ships one and two, but only had a VCR player (huh?) in the first ship and had a DVD player in the second one. The current ship doesn’t have a television in my cabin. Each of the ship has an officers and crew rest or lounge area with televisions and DVD players. I’ve never seen anyone in any of the officers’ room, except for me. There are some occasionally good party nights in the crew lounge area.
• All three crews have been entirely Filipino. The three officer rosters have been German, Russian and Romanian, respectively. The officers are all worried that they will be replaced by cheaper Filipino officers in the next decade by shipping companies looking to save costs wherever they can.
• Once the ship leaves port, you can order things from the on-board ship store, also called the slop chest. You can get beer, wine, snacks, and bathroom supplies. One two of the three ships, you could also guy liquor. The prices are duty-free prices.
More tomorrow. . .