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On a Freighter Even the Routine is Extraordinary
And the Destinations are Some of the Most Exotic in the World

Tour du Monde

Call of the Sea 

Hopping a freighter to circumnavigate the globe may sound romantic, but consider that typical cruise amenities are few (no casino or evening shows), digs are no-frills, and Internet service is limited. Still on board? Have two months to kill? This is the adventure for you. Leave New York aboard a freighter and cruise eastbound via the Suez Canal, finally arriving in Los Angeles. Maris Freighter Cruises: 66 days; $7,900.
     ~ National Geographic Traveler, Tours of Lifetime 2013

"Short" Around-the-World Cruise - Columbus

French containerships, the CMA CGM Rhone, Loire and sisterships, offer the following sailings every week or two.
      Eastbound: Halifax, NS (Day 1); New York (3), Norfolk, VA (6) and Savannah, GA (8), Charleston, SC (9), all in the USA; transatlantic and via the Suez Canal to Port Kelang, Malaysia (39); Singapore (41); Jakarta, Indonesia (43); Laem Chabang, Thailand (47); Vung Tau, Vietnam (50); transpacific to Los Angeles (69) and Oakland, CA, USA (73) ...

      Westbound: Los Angeles (Day 69) and Oakland (73); transpacific to Hong Kong (89), Vung Tau (91), Singapore (94) and Port Kelang (95), all second calls; Colombo, Sri Lanka (99); transit the Suez Canal (108) and transatlantic to Halifax (119).

Passengers: 10
Containers: 8,465 teu
Deadweight: 102,000 tons
Length: 334 m
Speed: 25 knots (47 km)
Built: 2010
Officers/Crew: French/Intíl
Owners: CMA CGM, French

Passenger Fares:
Ä110 - Ä130 per person, per day.

Columbus Line - more info.

In compliance with CMA CGMís environmental policy, and like all new vessels of this type that will be coming out from the yards soon, the CMA CGM Figaro, La Scala and Tosca are equipped with a combination of innovative environmental features, including:

The Fast Oil Recovery System, which enables bunkers to be rapidly recovered at any time, hence significantly limiting the environmental consequences should there be an incident at sea; an electronically controlled engine, reducing oil and fuel consumption by respectively 25% and 3%. Thanks to this new engine, the vessel can, if necessary, be operated at super eco-speed (14 to 15 knots); a multi-chamber waste compactor to recycle garbage on board; pre-equipment to connect to a portís electricity supply during operations.

Please see also the recent news about the CMA CGM's leadership in preserving the environment.


Passenger accommodations include larger double bed cabins, side- and forward- or aft-facing, and smaller ones facing forward, all located on the upper decks.

General Information

Passenger accommodations and common facilities, such as the dining room, TV/bar lounge, swimming pool, small exercise room and self service laundry are located on the upper decks. The electrical current is 220/50 AC, requiring a two-prong round adapter and converter for North American appliances.

There is an elevator onboard, nevertheless passengers must be fully mobile. A Medical Certificate of Good Health is required. The age limit is 77.

On a working vessel, freight always has priority. Passengers are, in a certain way, paying guests, who have to adapt to this reality. The service on board is simple, and sometimes cabins may not be made up in the most timely fashion. During peak working periods, the Captain and crew may not have much time to spare looking after passengers.

Dress code is casual and meals reflect the preferences and needs of the young officers and crew. A limited selection of wines and spirits is available in the ship's store. Onboard expenses may be paid for with cash in $(USD)/Ä(EUR). Tipping is at the passengerís discretion; $/Ä3-5 pp per day is recommended. Telephone, fax and email connections are available through the Captainís office, but not the Internet.

Port times vary according to cargo requirements; they may be short or long or happen during the day or night; the average for containerships is one day.

Nevertheless, traveling on a freighter will provide you with many pleasures. Youíll become part of a team and enjoy your voyage on the high seas. Just make sure to have your passport with you, visa for the USA and China, International Health and Accident Insurance and vaccination against yellow fever. A Medical Questionnaire will have to be completed by your doctor. Passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the anticipated return date.

Reservations can be made by completing a Registration Form and providing a 25% deposit. The balance of the fare is payable 70 days before departure.

The fare may be paid for by check or wire in either the basic tariff currency, as quoted by the steamship line, or USD/CAD at the prevailing exchange rate, subject to a final adjustment at the time the ticket is issued, a few weeks before departure.

Cancellation fees are as follows: over 60 days, loss of deposit; 31-60 days, 50% of the fare; no refund will be made within 30 days of departure. Cancellation and Interruption Insurance is highly recommended; it protects your investment from the moment you buy the policy. And if you buy it within three weeks of your confirmed reservation, Travelex waives pre-existing conditions. Travelex Insurance packages are available to Maris customers worldwide on our web page Before You Sail.

We'd also recommend visiting our Q&A Freighter Guide page to familiarize yourself with the procedures and what to expect before and during the voyage. For reservations, and if we can help provide any additional information, please contact us through the Initial Contact page.

Four Weeks On The High Seas

by Willem (Bill) Janson

"In 1995 I listened to an interview on my short-wave radio with someone who traveled the world on freighters. This really caught my attention; at the time I was living in Jakarta, Indonesia and had no idea how to get more information. When I came back home to Calgary, Canada, I forgot about this until my wife, Alie, and myself took a Millennium Cruise through the Panama Canal.

Bill at work

In the adjacent lock, there was a containership with passengers on deck watching the action and scenery at leisure, while we had to share the railing with 1,200 fellow passengers. That brought freighters back into the picture. Before our cruise was over, Alie found the address for Maris Freighter Cruises at Westport, CT, the company owned by Capt. Ranko Zunic, offering roundtrip cruises and longer one-way ocean crossings. Since then, we have booked with them the following voyages:

1 - From Savannah, GA, roundtrip to Australia via the Panama Canal (84 days),
2 - From Houston, TX, roundtrip through the Gulf of Mexico (21 days),
3 - From New York, NY, Round-the-World via the Panama and Suez Canals (88 days),
4 - From Oakland, CA to Singapore and, after a layover, back transpacific (60 days),
5 - From Savannah, GA transatlantic and via the Suez Canal to Singapore. After a break, from Singapore via SE and East Asia transpacific and through the Panama Canal to Houston, TX (95 days).

Maris Freighter Cruises have always been very helpful with our bookings, giving us much practical advice. When traveling on freighters, one has to be flexible as departure dates can change. For example, on our first voyage just two days before we were to fly out to join the ship, we were advised that there was a four-day delay in the ship's departure. We decided to stick to our plan and enjoy some time in Savannah. However, our friends invited us to come over to Orlando, FL, so we rented a car and spent some time with them as well at Cape Kennedy to witness a spectacular launch of the Space Shuttle.

cma cgm tosca

The current voyage on the CMA CGM Tosca, again from Savannah, takes us to Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia (neighboring port serving Singapore). After a visit to our son in Sri Lanka, we'll continue sailing eastbound on another vessel, the Rickmers Shanghai, via SE and East Asia, then across the Pacific and through the Panama Canal to Houston, TX.

The weather has been very nice. On passing the Azores in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and through the Strait of Gibraltar, we, as well as most of the crew, took the opportunity to use our cell phones.

The vessel is sailing at half speed, 16-17 knots, these days, as fuel is very expensive and trade is down. Current consumption is 85-90 tons a day, but periodically revolutions must be increased from 60 to 80 per minute for an hour to clean the residue from slow combustion. At regular speed of approx. 25 knots, burning 260 tons per day, we'd have arrived at Port Said too early for the night convoy through the Suez Canal. Approaching Port Said, we observed other vessels, all going in the same direction.
approach to Gibraltar

Approach to Gibraltar

It was the most interesting 24 hrs observing the approach and transit through the canal, the movements of so many vessels in a relatively small, narrow area.

Halfway down the Red Sea, we had an open deck BBQ before the ship was placed on alert, and security preparations started for the transit through the pirate area. We were briefed about the procedures, which for us mainly meant restricted outdoor access for a few days. And in normal circumstances, security and safety is very important on the ship. We have been very well briefed how to don a survival suit and what to do when there is a fire. There was a safety drill and we participated with the crew. The chief steward is responsible for getting us to the right location.

Combating pirates is an international effort. Daily briefs are sent to the vessel from the Information Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The seas around Somalia have been divided in risk zones. After exiting the Red Sea through the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, the vessel enters high-risk zone, which is patrolled by navy vessels, and the ship sails at full speed in a lock-down mode. We heard reports of some rebuffed attacks, mostly on bulk carriers and tankers traveling at slower speeds. We changed course once to avoid an unknown vessel.

Our twin-bedded cabin is quite large, with three large windows one forward and two side facing. It is located on the F deck, and includes a sitting area with a working desk, coffee table with a sofa and two armchairs, and bathroom with shower and private facilities. There is ample storage space.

We climb 54 stairs up and down to the Dining Room on B Deck three times a day. When we feel tired, we use the elevator. Two cooks man the kitchen. The chief steward serves meals and wine. Once a week, we have the opportunity to order duty-free items, and the account is settled at the end of the voyage.

Passneger Lounge

Next-door is the entrance to the Passenger Lounge, another spacious room with TV, card table and easy chairs. Alie uses this room to work on a large jigsaw puzzle, New York skyline by night.

The door across the hallway opens to a small open deck where we use to spend some time in deckchairs.

Breakfast is a simple affair, just toast with marmalade and coffee or tea. Sunday is special we get croissants and chocolates. Lunch always starts with a nice salad, then fish or chicken with vegetables, followed with several sorts of cheese, bread and fruit. Similarly for dinner, meats or legumes and a variety of fruits.

We usually sit at a small table next to the officers. But every Sunday, as the Captain shares a drink with his officers in the Officers Lounge, we have been included, and then we sit all together at one table for lunch (photo on the right).
Dining with officers on freighter

During the day, we do our daily devotions. I follow our trip on my computer; do some filming or writing this blog. We spend some time walking on deck or swimming in the pool ... watching the sun go down in an amazing array of colors. After dinner, the Canadian news for seafarers is in, so we look at this and our email. Evenings are filled with reading and watching good programs on DVD.

I visit the bridge and take daily positions. And I have visited the engine room several times. Never before have I stood alongside a three stories tall, 93,000 HP engine, 12-cylinder B&W two-stroke Diesel turning a shaft with a 6-bladed propeller, 9.1 m. in diameter. The weight of the engine is 2,146 tons.

Besides this behemoth, there is a number of auxiliary engines for supply of the electricity to the ship and numerous cargo refer containers, as well as systems for sewage treatment, oil purification, air conditioning, water making and water cooling for all these engines.

We are now on the last leg of our voyage rounding the northern tip of the island of Sumatra, heading toward Singapore (Tanjung Pelepas terminal) ...

It's a great feeling to be back on dry land again after 28 days. Tosca was a very comfortable vessel to travel on, and we thank the Captain and all officers and crew who went out of their way to make us feel welcome during the entire voyage. We disembarked at 14:30 hrs. and arrived at our hotel in Singapore at 16:00 hrs."


Thanks to the support received from our customers, as well as from the steamship lines and media, including the following comments, today's Maris is one of the leading independent freighter cruise specialists:
"Maris is sailing with fair winds and following seas under your command." John Carrick
Editorial writer
Sydney, Australia
"Q: It has always been my dream to take a long voyage on a cargo ship. Can you tell me if this is possible any more? - A: Maris in New York offers such voyages on a daily basis." Sunday Times
July 1/01
"Maris Freighter Cruises website, as well as the newsletter which illustrates itineraries, ships, prices etc., is a good place to learn about this type of cruise and travel." New York Times
May 18/03
"We are very appreciative of the work you have undertaken on our behalf for many years and the effort you have put into making our passenger service a success ... Our sincere and grateful thanks." Richard Mellor
P&O Nedlloyd
"As a faithful reader of your Seaworthy News publication, I wish to compliment you and your staff on the informativeness and thoroughness, setting forth in honest and detailed manner descriptions of this means of travel." Martin Ems
Retired Manager Passenger Services,
American President Lines - Feb/07
"I just wanted to send you my thanks for the beautiful news publication you produce all these years. I hope you'll keep freighter travel as your primary focus always, as it sets you apart." Alison Senter
(Member since '95)
New Lisbon, NJ
"Since 1971, when my three young children and I travelled up the West Coast of Africa, I have had the pleasure of occasional freighter voyage. A wonderful way to see, and enjoy the peace of the watery parts of, our world. Thank you so much and your family for choosing to run your freighter cruise agency." Jean Washington
San Diego, CA
"Hopefully, when the dust (and Covid) has settled, we'll be able to envisage a new adventure. With renewed gratitude for your unfailing support and guidance, kindest regards." Jacques Carrio
Vienna, Austria

Become a member of Maris Freighter Travel Club Int'l -
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Take advantage of the knowledgeable advice that comes from our vast experience. Find the freighter voyage that's right for you and you'll get an automatic discount, up to $800, depending on the steamship line and length of voyage. Please see the Special Discounts page.

To subscribe simply pay the fee by credit card.

You'll also receive our online newsletter called Seaworthy News, featuring passenger firsthand stories and news, issued periodically as it happens. It's a well-illustrated e-mail publication often being the only one available anywhere for many of these voyages.

The same low price (in USD) is valid internationally.
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