If you prefer to gaze out over the ocean, read a good book or listen to sea breezes rather than immerse yourself in the fanfare and activities of a formal cruise, a sea voyage on a freighter might appeal to your sense of adventure. Freighters carry a limited number of passengers for a more relaxed and uncrowded atmosphere, but your entertainment options are limited to the basics such as a restaurant, recreation room, TV lounge and possibly a swimming pool. Rooms and suites are sometimes larger than on cruise ships and cost around $135 per person per day.
10 Days: Montreal to Liverpool
Depart from Montreal and discover the St. Lawrence Seaway as the ship Jonni Ritscher journeys to its destination in Liverpool, England. Relax in a cabin that includes a private 3/4 bath, refrigerator, sofa, writing desk, TV, stereo and bed. Each cabin has a view astern or forward, but the forward views are more restricted. Enjoy a swim in the outdoor pool, fill up in the ship's restaurant – meals are included in the fare – or amuse yourself indoors in the rec room or TV lounge.
46 Days: Vancouver to 5 European Countries
Take a romantic trip for two to European destinations in five countries aboard the Cap Jervis or Cap Jackson, container ships allowing a maximum of two passengers. The route leaves Vancouver every 77 days and meanders down the U.S. West Coast to Manzanillo, Mexico, with stops in Oakland and Long Beach, California, during the first 11 days of the journey. Next up, visit ports in Central and South America like Port Quetzal, Antigua; Caldera, Costa Rica; Buenaventura, Columbia; and Caucedo, Dominican Republic, before heading out to sea for a transatlantic crossing. Reach Rotterdam in the Netherlands 38 days after leaving Vancouver. In the last eight days of the voyage, the ship makes port in London; Hamburg, Germany; Antwerp, Belgium; and LeHavre, France.
Other Journeys Leaving from North America
If you're not finding the European route you're looking for departing from a Canadian port, consider embarking from a U.S. port of call. Depart from New York City on cargo ships headed for Italy, Malta, Spain and France with voyages of 16 to 19 days one way. Or journey from Burns Harbor, Indiana, through the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway as you head to the Atlantic Ocean on a 25- to 30-day voyage to the Netherlands. The "tramp service" route doesn't have fixed ports of call or pre-published schedules, adding to the sense of seafaring adventure. The voyage may start at Thunder Bay in Ontario, Canada; Duluth, Minnesota; or from another Great Lakes port.
Tips for Booking Passage on a Cargo Ship
Find cruises on cargo ships using websites like Freighter Expeditions and The Cruise People. Search engines make it easy to find and book sea journeys that fit your timeframe and desired destination. Because cabins on freighters are limited, it's wise to book up to six months in advance. There's no on-peak or off-peak season with cargo ships that accept passengers, so expect the same pricevany time of year. Check to see whether port taxes are included in the fare because some trips bill those fees separately. When booking, make sure you have a plan for returning home – options include booking a round-trip cruise, booking a second voyage returning to North America at a later date or flying home.