Slow travel in cargo and small ships…

Cranes in the harbour of Limassol, Cyprus

Cranes in the harbour of Limassol, Cyprus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our blog is entitled “Taking the slow road to Cyprus”. The idea of the trip began when we read an article in the Daily Telegraph on Cargo Cruises. A little research and we were locked on to the idea of a cargo cruise to Cyprus – over the months, it evolved and materialized as we have described in this blog. The critical factor and the major constraint for the whole adventure was always the cargo cruise for both us and our car from Salerno, Italy to Limassol, Cyprus, our final destination.

Regular readers of our blog will be aware that, by the time we boarded our ship to Cyprus, we had been delayed two weeks – we were to learn that delays are an essential part of cargo cruises.

We intend to publish a series of blogs for our sea journey but we thought it might be appropriate to clarify on what we mean by a cargo cruise. According to leading travel author, Hugo Verlomme, cargo travel has its own magic and frequent cargo travellers use special language to describe it, with expressions like:

  • An intense personal experience
  • A trip aboard a cargo is like a true adventure

There are two fundamentally different types of passenger travel by sea and their key characteristics according to Hugo Verlomme are as follows:

Cargo ship (containers, bulk carriers, traditional cargos, Ro Ro etc.):

  • Dates variable, both for departure and arrival, i.e. subject to last minute change
  • Comfort, generally large, spacious cabins, with exterior windows
  • Food, identical to that prepared for officers
  • Life on board, make your own arrangements
  • Stops: often very short
  • Price: can be exceptionally good value when travel and accommodation are combined to give a competitive day rate

Cruise ship/liner:

  • Punctuality: generally leaves and arrives on time
  • Service: the crew are there to look after passengers (not like on a cargo)
  • Health: doctor/hospital on board
  • Food: varied, abundant and refined
  • Life on board; huge number of organized distractions
  • Stops: day/half-day organized excursions
  • Price: varied but can be very attractive, viz. repositioning cruises

Finally, it is worth summarizing, leading cruise authority, cruise Douglas Ward’s, four sizes of cruise ships:

  • Micro(Boutique): <200 passengers
  • Small: 200-600 passengers
  • Average: 600-1600 passengers
  • Large: 1600-6000+ passengers

Cargoes are strictly limited to twelve passengers by international regulations. However, the mixed cargo (or le mixte in French) is a hybrid carrying both passengers and cargo, with qualities of both categories but it is very much at the boutique end of cruise market. Most importantly the mixed cargo must have a doctor – mixed cargoes typically have up to a hundred and fifty passengers. We were soon to learn that our trip to Cyprus was a classic cargo…

Cargo travel has become a highly specialized sector of the travel market and appeals to highly independent travellers, who are looking for an alternative to popular, mass travel. Hugo Verlomme has clearly positioned cargo travel as part of the “slow movement”, introducing the first part of his book as “Slow is beautiful.” When we called our blog “Taking the slow road to Cyprus”, we had absolutely no idea about the “slow movement”….

Arrived in Cyprus the journey ended but the story just beginning…

English: Map of Cyprus showing districts

English: Map of Cyprus showing districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, we arrived safely in Cyprus but although the seven week journey is technically ended the real story is just beginning…

Whilst were at sea for seven days, with no access to the internet, we wrote a daily blog, and shall be releasing these on a daily basis, so watch this space. For details of the Slow road to Cyprus are available by following this link.