For some, the idea of traveling on a modern ocean liner in a comfortable cabin isn't a true adventure. For those who want to experience ocean travel like the sailors of yore and have flexible schedules, a tramp steamer might be the way to go. Tramp voyages often have some passenger rooms that are available for booking. An advantage to tramp steamer travel is that a cheaper voyage to a remote destination can be purchased at the last minute. However, some routes are very popular and it might be necessary to arrange a voyage many months ahead of the preferred dearture date. While some freighters depart on an exact date and time, others might have just a window for departure. It's important to be flexible!
What is a Tramp Steamer?
A tramp steamer is a merchant ship that operates without a fixed schedule or published ports of call and travels wherever it is required to deliver its cargo. Unlike ocean liners, tramp steamers have the benefit of freedom of strict schedules, destination, cargo, and route.
Travel by Tramp Steamer
Travel by tramp steamer is exotic, but it does require a greater amount of patience and an open schedule. Once aboard, passengers are in store for a unique travel experience that might make them feel a little bit like Mark Twain as he wrote "Following the Equator." Keep in mind that the passenger cabins and amenities onboard are simple. Although the whole experience may be no-frills without casinos or on-board evening entertainment, you can still anticipate a comfortable and enjoyable trip.
A Few Rules
There are age restrictions for travel and, if there is no doctor on board, all passengers are advised they need to be mobile and fit to travel. Regardless of age, all passengers must ensure that they are fully fit to travel and have no serious medical condition. A medical questionnaire must be completed at the time of reservation, signed by both you and your doctor, verifying that you are able to travel on a freighter without a physician. If a reservation is made well in advance, the report must be reconfirmed a couple of weeks before departure. Those that allow elderly passengers often require a certification of health. International Health and Accident Insurance (Medical) is required on most voyages. Check with your booking company for details.
One of the best booking agencies is Maris Freighter Cruises. It has available berths on dozens of ships all around the world. Maris' website provides listings and extensive travel information for voyages around the world, as well as passenger reviews, services provided on board, and advice for preparation before you sail. Bookings are available for both roundtrip and one way voyages that may last longer. Remember, the departure date and itinerary can vary.
Maris Freighter Cruises