Warning to Visitors

Some of the information below may be out of date as a result of changing timetables and services. Please double check the accuracy of all information before travelling.

The booking forms should be up to date however, so if tickets for a particular service are available, then the service should be operational.

London - Panama - Tauranga (Sea Freighter)


The Journey

If you have a lot of time to spare, a serious hatred of flying, or just spending a month on a ship, then travelling to Australia or New Zealand by sea freighter might be the route for you!

This service, operated by CMA CGM, The French Line, can accommodate up to six fare paying passengers on each of their freighters.

The service calls at various European and American destinations, amongst others before calling at Fiji, Australia and New Zealand. It's somehow unlikely that you will choose to do the full round trip (84 days) by freighter, but this option is available. Please note that it is not possible to book just the journey between Europe and USA (trans-atlantic) on this service.

There are a total of three passenger cabins onboard. All the rooms are double rooms with windows, and upgrades are available to the Owner's or Officer's rooms, which are larger.

There is an upper age limit for passengers of 80 years, although people aged between 75 and 80 will be asked for a medical certificate before being permitted to travel.

There are various visa requirements for those wishing to travel this route, and non-US citizens will require a full visa (visa waiver programme is not applicable).

If you would like to enquire about this journey, contact Strand Travel, a well respected company specialising in passenger journeys on cargo ships.

Click here for a PDF giving more information about this route.

Cargo Ships

Travelling on-board a cargo ship is a completely different experience, as passengers get a taste of what it's like to travel on the open seas. Travelling with shipping companies, passengers are able to tailor their trip to suit their needs; passengers are able to spend as long as they like at each different port - catching the next ship as it passes through.

Cargo ship operators are primarily in the business of transporting freight across long distances. Generally speaking, most of their ships have a small number of rooms which they rent out to paying passengers. In some cases, these rooms are the officers' quarters.

A large number of companies offer passengers the chance to travel with them on their overseas trips. Most of these companies offer broadly the same sort of service, and therefore this page summarises the most common aspects of travelling on a cargo ship.

Passenger-carrying cargo ships offer a wide range of routes to the public. These include 'around the world' trips, as well as shorter hops between continents.

A number of travel brokers arrange cargo ship journeys. These include:

The number of cabins on each ship varies depending on route and ship. Generally, there are between 2 and 14 cabins available on each ship. The biggest difference between cargo ship cabins and cruise ship cabins is the size; cargo cabins tend to be significantly larger. All cabins are provided with towels, bed linen and soap. Most cabins are air-conditioned.

Most cabins are spacious en-suite rooms (bathrooms have a toilet and shower, and sometimes a bath), and they tend to be positioned high up in the ship, below the bridge. Cabins tend to be outside rooms with windows, although sometimes the number of containers on the ship may obscure any potential views.

Cabins may be in the form of suites, with separate sitting areas. Smaller cabins have separate seats within the room. Some cabins come with televisions and DVD/VHS players. 

As single travellers make up a large proportion of those wishing to travel on cargo ships, many of the ships in the fleet have purpose-built single cabins on-board, offered at the same rate as double rooms (or for a much smaller than usual supplement).

The facilities offered on-board each cargo ship varies, but there are some standard features.


Passengers luggage should be able to fit within the confines of their cabin. Some ships also have a weight limit for passenger baggage.


Most cargo ships have a passenger lounge, normally situated next to the dining area. Lounges normally contain a television with VHS/DVD player, as well as a selection of games, books etc. The majority of entertainment materials are likely to be in the language of the ship's crew, so you may want to bring some of your own.

Food & Drink

In some cases, the Lounge area includes a bar serving drinks. Alternatively, passengers may be permitted to use an Officers' bar. The selection of drinks tends not to be that extensive, but the prices are favourable as they are duty-free and usually not-for-profit. Generally speaking, only cash is accepted on-board, and Euros are prefereable.

Meals are generally taken with the crew and sometimes the Captailn in the Officers' Restaurant. Passengers will generally have their own table. Food tends to be served a little earlier than usual (e.g. breakfast 07.00-08.30, lunch 11.30-12.30, dinner 17.00-18.00). Don't expect the food to be gourmet-standard, but do expect it to follow the nationality of the ship/cook. There isn't a lot of choice on-board, so you may have to eat outside your comfort zone. Snacks tend to be available outside of meal times.


Some ships have an indoor swimming pool on-board, and occasionally even a sauna. Exercise equipment may also be available (although shared with the crew). This may include items such as exercise bikes and rowing machines. 


Bed linen and towels are changed on a regular basis, but passengers may also use the on-board launderette (where available - shared with crew) for personal items. 

Email / Telephones

Ships tend not to offer passengers access to telephones or internet, as this is expensive. Passengers are encouraged to post letters to family and friends from ports. Postal addresses may also be given out in advance so that correspondance can be sent to you at port.

Disabled Passengers

Cargo ships are not designed to carry disabled passengers, oweing to the number of stairs involved. As a result, passengers with physical disabilities or mobility problems are not able to travel.

Travelling with Pets

Unfortunately, no animals of any sort are permitted to be transported on-board.


As departure dates vary considerably throughout the year, we recommend that you contact an agent such as Strand Travel to enquire about this route, and this year's departure dates.

The journey duration is as follows:

Round-trip (Tilbury - Tilbury)84
Tilbury to Sydney43
Tilbury to Melbourne45
Tilbury to Tauranga52
Tauranga to Tilbury32
Melbourne to Tilbury39
Sydney to Tilbury41

NB. Tilbury is the closest cargo port to London.


Due to the limited number of cabins available on these journeys, passengers are advised to contact a booking agent as far in advance as possible to ensure availability.

Prices include accommodation, meals, taxes and booking fees. Passengers may wish to tip their cabin steward (if applicable), at their own cost.

RoutesDouble RoomOwner's RoomOfficer's Room
Round trip£9,340£11,440£10,180
Tilbury to Sydney£4,780£5,855£5,210
Tilbury to Melbourne£5,000£6,175£5,450
Tilbury to Tauranga£5,770£7,120£6,290
Tauranga to Tilbury£3,570£4,370£3,890
Melbourne to Tilbury£4,340£5,315£4,730
Sydney to Tilbury£4,560£5,585£4,970


Tips, Questions & Comments