-- Travelers who want to travel the world by sea have a new option: voyage by cargo ship.
Cargo ships say their benefits over traveling on a cruise ship include fewer people and cheaper fare.
Shipping company CMA CGM said the average price per day on board its ships is 100 euros, or about $110. The number of passengers allowed ranges from two to 14, according to the company. The passengers have access to the ship's library, sports equipment, video room and swimming pool. The cabins include private bathrooms. Food is included in the price.
"Passengers can organize a tailor-made trip, and choose to be amazed by the arrival in New York harbor, by the passage through the Panama Canal, by Hong Kong, Papeete or many other evocative destinations that have captivated sailors for generations," the according to the CMA CGM website.
One 72-year-old Australian passenger told Bloomberg about his experience on various cargo ships. "The food can be pretty ordinary, and you have to be prepared to go with the flow," he said.
More than 600 passengers have boarded CMA CGM container ships since 2012, according to the company.
CMA CGM said one of its ships, the CMA CGM Marco Polo, is "bigger than the Empire State Building." Passengers on board the Marco Polo eat meals with the crew and stay in one of five "modern" double cabins that boast their own living room. Trips include an "around the world" adventure in 83 days, from northern Europe to the U.S. and Australia via the Panama Canal.
Germany shipping company Rickmers Group accepts passengers on seven of its cargo ships. The ports visited include Hamburg, Singapore, Shanghai, New Orleans, Houston and Philadelphia.
"Why not embark on an intimate trip on a cargo vessel instead of a glamorous and glittering cruise ship with thousands of other passengers, impatiently pressing in the line for the buffet?" according to MCC Marine, which provides services for passengers on Rickmers' cargo vessels. "Onboard a Rickmers cargo vessel, there is no such thing as a dress code."
Passengers on these cargo ships should expect the unexpected. A trip on Rickmers' "Superflex Heavy MPC" vessels can take between 8 and 135 days, "depending on the segment(s) you book," the MCC Marine website states.