Frequently asked Questions
Most shipping companies will not accept persons of 80 years or over.
Due to the hazards inherent in travelling on a freighter, very young
children cannot be accepted as passengers. Please check before you make
a reservation as the age limits vary with each shipping company. It
should be pointed out to parents contemplating taking children on a
freighter voyage that there will be no facilities for children on board
and they will have to be kept under their supervision at all times.
It is natural to assume that a freighter will have plenty of room for
baggage. However nowadays all available space is dedicated to containers
and therefore passengers’ baggage must be limited to whatever can
be carried up the gangway and stored in their cabins. Some shipping
companies also impose a weight limit.
Booking a Voyage
Study the Destinations and Prices pages on this site and choose an itinerary and
destination. When you have chosen your itinerary, please fill in the
booking enquiry form or ring, email, fax or write to us and we will
check the dates and availability of the voyage you have picked.
Advance Registration–if a request is made for a voyage for
which a schedule is not yet available, we can usually accept an advance
registration. In this case you will be asked to send a Registration Fee
of 100 per person together with the Registration Form and we will
register you for the voyage required. As soon as the schedules are
available, we will send an Offer of Accommodation and ask you for a
deposit (from which the Registration Fee will be deducted). Should the
voyage not materialise or be unsuitable for you, the Registration Fee
can be transferred to another itinerary or repaid in full.
Most vessels are equipped with satellite telephone and fax
equipment–please note, however, that this is an expensive form of
communication. Prior to departure a list of port agents is normally
supplied in order that family and friends can send letters to await you
at ports en route. The ship’s officers will assist you with
information about sending mail from ports of call. Internet access is
not normally available to passengers and email is usually reserved for
shipping company use. However on some vessels, the Captain may agree to
send the occasional email on your behalf.
The terminals where the vessels berth are very different from the
ports used by cruise ships and ferries. They are always busy with heavy
vehicles coming and going and large moving cranes which are used to load
and unload the containers. Container terminals can be very dangerous
places to be if you do not have your wits about you.
Most container terminals are situated a long way from the centre of a
town or city, thus making it too far to walk. A taxi is usually
essential to transport passengers from ship to shore, which can usually
be arranged either by the local ship’s agent who will be on board
when the vessel arrives, or by one of the Officers. This should be borne
in mind when deciding how much currency to take with you on your
It is usually necessary to pay for on board purchases with cash, not
personal or travellers cheques or credit cards. You will be advised
which currency is acceptable. For use ashore, take a supply of local
currencies with you, in accordance with the itinerary, preferably in
small denominations. Most vessels do not have exchange facilities.
It cannot be guaranteed that passengers with special diets (e.g.
vegetarian, glutenfree, etc) will be catered for, though with this
proviso the ship can be advised in advance about any special requests.
However, if you are allergic to any types of food, there can be no
guarantee that your needs will be met.
Freighters are not designed to cater for disabled
passengers–there are usually a lot of stairs to climb and the
gangways can be steep and awkward. Some vessels do have lifts, but they
are switched off in bad weather. Therefore we regret that anyone with a
physical disability or mobility problems will not be permitted to
There is no “dressing up” on freighters, casual clothing
is all that you will require throughout your voyage. There is no need to
take any formal clothes with you.
Whilst we may be able to give you an approximate sailing date, it is
likely that this will change. The exact date of departure for your
voyage may not be confirmed until approximately two or three days
beforehand. Embarkation instructions are usually enclosed with the
Passage Tickets, however it is likely that contact will need to be made
with the Port Agent in order to obtain confirmation of the
vessel’s exact time of departure. Once the time of sailing has
been established, the embarkation time can then be confirmed.
On the day of embarkation, you will either make your own way directly
to the vessel at a given time, or will be asked to go to the port
agent’s office from where you will be escorted to the vessel. If
you have to travel a long distance, it may be advisable to spend at
least one night in a hotel near to the embarkation port. If you are
joining a vessel outside the UK, you will be asked to contact the
ship’s agent at the embarkation port in order to find out exactly
where and at what time to join the vessel. (see Port Agents).
Insurance cover is compulsory for all passengers travelling on
freighters. Your insurance company must be made aware that you are
travelling as a farepaying passenger on a cargo ship which does not
carry a doctor. The policy must include medical cover of at least
£2,000,000 or its equivalent and, of course, adequate cancellation cover
is strongly recommended. You will be asked to supply a copy of the cover
note and the insurance company’s emergency assistance telephone number before the tickets can be released. We will supply you with
details of the insurance broker for whom we are introducers when confirming the booking.
As a rule, ships have a self-service launderette, usually with a
washing machine, washing powder, dryer and ironing board.
Some ships have lifts–many do not. In bad weather lifts are
switched off, so passengers may have to negotiate several flights of
stairs between, for instance, accommodation and the restaurant.
Vessels which take up to 12 passengers do not carry a doctor though
some may have a dispensary and at least one of the officers will have
first aid training. Therefore shipping companies will not accept as a
passenger anyone who has a severe or chronic health condition,
including, in some cases diabetics who rely on injections, and those who
take Warfarin. If you require medication you must take a sufficient
supply to last the voyage. All passengers must have a medical
certificate (on a Strand Voyages or shipping company’s form)
signed by their doctor.
Passengers taking one-way voyages often wish to book hotels, tours,
car hire and flights. We can make any travel arrangements for you, but
remember–you need to be flexible to co-ordinate them with
freighters’ changeable schedules.
Regrettably no shipping company will accept animals of any sort
aboard their vessels.
The Port Agent is a very busy person, whose responsibilities lie with
the berthing arrangements of the vessels and overseeing the loading and
unloading of the containers or any other cargoes carried. He or she also
has first-hand information on when a vessel is expected to berth. It is
therefore necessary to contact the Port Agent to confirm embarkation and
For voyages departing from the UK, we will make contact with the Port
Agent and having established the embarkation and sailing times, we will
then telephone you with the information. However, for overseas
departures it will be necessary for you to contact the Port Agent
yourself to obtain this information. This being the case, we will
provide you with the telephone number of the Port Agent’s office
and you should then make contact a few days before the expected date of
departure. Please do not discuss any other matter with the Port Agent
other than to confirm the vessel’s date of departure and the time
you may embark.
Security in ports is usually extremely tight and it is not possible
for any unauthorised person to walk on to the terminal without first
obtaining permission, or in some cases without an official escort. You
may be subject to baggage and personal searches similar to those
experienced at airports, either before embarking or on board the
Smoking restrictions are determined by the Captain. Normally smoking
is allowed in cabins (subject to sensible precautions such as not
smoking in bed) and on deck (except when refuelling).
However it will be left to passengers to agree amongst themselves
about smoking policy in passenger areas such as the lounge.
Time in Port
It is important to remember that since most of the vessels are
containerised and loading and unloading is highly mechanised, the amount
of time spent in ports is usually quite short. For example, a vessel may
arrive at a port early in the morning, discharge its containers and be
ready to depart by early afternoon. However, there is usually sufficient
time to disembark, do a little sightseeing and return to the vessel
before she sails.
The steward who cleans your cabin or serves you in the
Officers’ Dining Room will always be grateful for a tip at the end
of the voyage. However the level of tipping is a personal matter and
should be based on your satisfaction with the way he has performed his
duties. There really are no set rules with regard to tipping on board
Vaccinations & Inoculations
Some ports and countries require passengers to have vaccinations or
inoculations. We will inform you about those which are compulsory,
though you should consult your GP about the advisability of taking other
Apart from RollOn RollOff vessels, generally all other vessels only
carry vehicles which are containerised. We regret that we cannot make
any arrangements for the carriage of vehicles on any freighters except
We will advise you in advance if you require visas for any ports of
call. In most cases it is necessary for your passport to be
valid at least 6 months after the date of your visit to the country
concerned. You are reminded that it is your responsibility to ensure
that you are in possession of the correct documentation to enter a
Due to increased port security we regret that it is not possible to
visit ships in port, nor for relatives and friends to board the ship to
see you off on your voyage.