Frequently asked Questions

Age Limits

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.

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Baggage

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.

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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.

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Communications

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.

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Container Terminals

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 voyage.

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Currency

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.

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Diets

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.

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Disabled Passengers

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 travel.

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Dress

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.

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Embarkation

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).

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Insurance

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.

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Laundry

As a rule, ships have a self-service launderette, usually with a washing machine, washing powder, dryer and ironing board.

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Lifts

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.

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Medical

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.

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Onward Travel

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.

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Pets

Regrettably no shipping company will accept animals of any sort aboard their vessels.

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Port Agents

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 sailing times.

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.

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Security

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 vessel.

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Smoking

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.

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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.

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Tipping

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 freighters.

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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 precautions.

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Vehicles

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 for Ro-Ros.

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Visas

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 foreign country.

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Visitors

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.

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