Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Freighter Might Appeal to Minimalist in You

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Freighter Might Appeal to Minimalist in You

Article excerpt

THERE ARE NO Las Vegas-style floor shows, no casinos, fancy spas, discos or midnight buffets. Yet freighter travel holds an enormous appeal for travelers seeking space and solitude at rates that can be less expensive than those of traditional cruise ships.

Freighter passengers should have flexible itineraries and must like being at sea for long stretches of time. And they should be prepared to entertain themselves. On cruise ships, the crew is expected to entertain and pamper the passengers. On freighters, the cargo is the priority.

"It's one of those things everybody thinks they're interested in. It's a romantic notion. We get a lot of inquiries," said Steve Wellmeier, director of marketing for TravLtips Cruise & Freighter Travel Association, a Flushing, N.Y., travel agency.

The company publishes a bimonthly magazine on freighter travel that includes many first-person accounts.

Relatively few freighters accept passengers. Those that do generally carry 12 or fewer; any more would mean meeting international maritime requirements for having medical personnel on board. Freighters usually set passenger-age limits, with age 82 the maximum.

Those who sign on should be aware that a freighter may suddenly change course to call on an additional port.

And a round trip is not necessarily a round trip. A Far East voyage that begins in Jacksonville, Fla., may end in Philadelphia and present logistical problems in making airline arrangements, Wellmeier said.

Despite its limitations, freighter travel has many devotees. "If it's a style of travel that agrees with someone, they do it every year or two years," said Margi Mostue, president of Freighter World Cruises Inc., a travel agency in Pasadena, Calif., that specializes in freighter trips. One of her clients spends half of every year on a freighter, she said.

If you are interested in sailing on a freighter, consider the cost carefully. …

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