Can you still travel by ship?

Do passenger ships still exist? Not cruises, I mean a no frills, here’s your cabin, have fun reading a book while we go from point A to point B.

I believe so. A recent article in the San Francisco paper’s Travel section talked about traveling on freighters, oil tankers, etc. Evidently, and I’m working from memory here, the accomidations and food on these are pretty good. As the crew generally spends a goodly portion of thier lives on them they probably need to be just to keep them coming back. The additional cost of adding a couple or three more cabins and taking on paying customers isn’t very much. They, as I remember, can very reasonably priced. BUT a) you can’t be in a hurry b) they may change thier plans and stop at a couple of places not on your list (though I don’t think you are charged for the extra time c) this isn’t a cruise ship and it would be best to bring a lot of your own entertainment with you.

It is still possible to book staterooms on many freighters. I would suggest contacting a travel agent. Just keep in mind while the ship may be traveling from point A to point B, it may have stops in points C, D, and F.

You can travel by freighter - check here for some information on routes.

The site is a travel agency for freighter travel, but I’m not associated with it in any way - I just like to check out the routes and dream about traveling that way. I don’t know why it sounds so appealing to me!

Or if you would like to cross the Atlantic with altogether too much class and ceremony, Cunard still runs transatlantic service, including the new and mildly ill-fated Queen Mary II.

I believe you could book a trip on one of the freighters Lsura cited for less than it would cost to purchase appropriate eveningwear for the QMII, however.

If you think travel on commercial vessels sounds romantic, it’s possibly because you haven’t been on one.

The days when commercial vessels called at ports in the centre of cities, and stayed there while teams of stevedores (longshoremen) loaded them by hand over a period of weeks are long gone. Now, most container vessels (and they’re the ones that may carry the odd passenger) berth at container terminals waaay out of town (for example, it’s a 50 buck cab fare from the Brisbane Container Terminal to the city and that’s not unusual) and they turn around in a matter of hours.

Tankers are broadly speaking even worse. Some of those don’t even berth at all (just moor at an off shore facility of some sort).

If you chose your vessel very carefully (consider the nationality of flag, officers and crew, age of vessel, and who operates her) you might well find quite a pleasant environment.

Personally, though, I spend quite enough time in the vibrating, greatunwashed/bunkerfuel/asiancooking smelling atmosphere of cargo ships as it is. A cruise on one I can do without, thankyouverymuch.

You’ve been to Manchester?!?!

Yes, but last I was there, it did not smell of bunker fuel. This is a good thing. Trust me.

Passenger ships certainly do exist, and I’ve been on quite a few. My two longest journeys were Okinawa to Kagoshima (Japan), and Harwich (England) to Esbjerg (Denmark), each of which was around 20 hours. I’ve also travelled from Sweden to Poland, from Finland to Estonia, from Italy to Greece and from Ireland to France by ship.

There are many many passenger shipping routes in Europe, including routes to the Faroes and Iceland. But in general you won’t find many routes with a journey time of >24 hours any more.

Lsura, that’s a cool site and exactly what I meant. I was actually surprised at the price, though… I thought it would be a lot more inexpensive. It sounds like an inexpensive alternative to an actual cruise, but airfare still beats it by a mile. I was actually interested because I thought it would be a cheaper way to get from here to there if I didn’t have to worry about how long it took. (Not so much for the romance, as Princhester pointed out was nonexistent, but mostly for the economy.)

I guess I’ll have to just dream, though, because the one that goes to LA, New Zealand, Australia and hits a few places in the South Pacific sounds pretty cool.

Somewhat OT but a really cheap way to travel by ship is to join the navy! More than once while underway I would think of the huge amounts of money people would spend for something I was doing for free. Okay, maybe they are quite different. Look out at the huge expanse of an ocean and there’s no difference in the view whether from an ocean liner or a ‘haze gray and underway’.

In China you can still take passenger ships on both the ocean and river. I’ve been on many a multi-day journey. It’s cheap. Classy though it ain’t.