The Dedegol Mountains, Isparta, Turkey. This year’s challenge?

Cargo ship travel

Back in Bergen in 2002 we tried to get a passage home on a cargo ship. After much wandering around the docks we gave up. Even then jumping ship was a thing of the past. We eventually paid for a cabin on a cruise liner vacated by passengers who had become ill and even that was not easy and very expensive.

Since then global warming has become even more apparent and our carbon footprint something of a worry. Not only that but it has become an absolute pain to go anywhere by air with our kind of luggage. And the baggage handlers keep smashing bits of the tandem. Inspired by Josie Dew’s book “Saddled at Sea” the management started investigating travel by cargo ship. He had always wanted to go to sea and at last it seemed possible to realise his 50 year old ambition.

Josie Dew, whose book Saddled at Sea partly inspired this trip

The management set about investigating just about every possibility on the web. Cuba sounded like a good idea. It is a nice warm large island big enough for us to take a couple of months to explore. He soon found that this was not possible. Americans have messed that up by not letting in any ships including even humble ferries. What a bunch of……….

He then looked at a very complex set of connections which wandered half way round the Atlantic. A couple of emails and phone calls later he was soon only too well aware that cargo ships don’t really have proper timetables. There is also a good chance that some will not run at all. A straightforward route was the only real possibility if we were going to achieve any cycling.

We ended up booking a cabin on a dedicated RoRo vehicle ferry which transports almost anything on wheels on regular routes around Europe and North Africa.

Roll–On Roll–Off ships are unlovely looking vessels (though comfortable inside) which are like giant car ferries

Cargo ships have very few passenger cabins, usually three or four. The ship will have none of the facilities found on a cruise liner, thank goodness. We will eat with the crew and we come second to the cargo when it comes to where we go and where we get off.

As you would expect from one of his disposition the management is already making plans for things to keep him busy on the voyages once he has his sea legs. We could be at sea for 23 days, 9 on the way out and 14 on the way back. We will not be able to take large lumps of electronics or large lumps of anything else so this will stretch his imagination to the limits.

Cargo ships go to interesting places

The practicalities were dealt with by Strand Travel, and the ships are run by the Italian Grimaldi Line, please see the links. Once we had done the planning fixing the insurance was difficult. These trips are aimed at getting you on and off at the start point. After all, most Western Europeans and North Americans are stressed walking from their cars to a shop. The risk of getting off the ship and wandering off on a bike would be far too stressful, both physically and mentally . After lots of emailing we managed to extend the cover on our annual multi trip policy. We do have to pay for our own helicopter if we need to be rescued at sea. We also had to pay extra because we may go into Israel on the way home.

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