THE BLOG

Passage by Container Ship

10/22/2015 05:45pm ET | Updated October 22, 2016
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Have you ever thought about traveling the high seas, but aren't keen on cruising it? Shy to mix with so many passengers, but still enjoy the thought of the peace and quiet and being amongst nature that the world's oceans offers us?

A container ship voyage might be just the ticket.

People frown when I tell them that's exactly what I did; in 2013 I was the only passenger on board an 83,000 tonne container ship from Athens to Hong Kong. 37 days with a crew of 27 men, via ports in Italy, Spain, back to Piraeus in Athens, through Suez to the pirate area of the Arabian Gulf (where three security force guards joined the ship for 10 days) to Singapore, and then the South China Seas up to Hong Kong for my disembarkation.

No Internet! People panic when I tell them that. Others give a 'knowing' smile at the thought of a lone woman with an all male crew. Let me correct the many misconceptions:

1) My cabin was approx. 25 square meters with massive portholes, double bed and more roomy than a cruise cabin.

2) The crew could not have been more gentlemanly. I ate with the senior crew (of European origin: Swiss Captain, Polish Chief Officer) and the food was out of this world.

3) The Filipino crew would invite me into their living quarters (once they overcame their shyness) and we would sing karaoke most nights (there's your entertainment).

Entertainment included a barbecue on deck, again with much singing and most container ships have a gym and pool. My ship - the Hanjin Boston - had an indoor pool that was filled up at sea. I made sure to swim daily as I could feel myself putting on weight due to the good food!

Port stops

Container ports are traditionally further out of town than cruise terminals, but in Valencia (Spain) I was given a ride into town by the agent; Genoa (Italy) I could actually walk into town; and in Singapore, the Chief Officer and I took a cab into town.

Stops can be anywhere between 8 and 12 hours, depending on how much cargo the ship needs to on and offload. The captain will always give you a time to be back at the ship by.

If you're intrigued to discover more, please visit my site Life Beyond Borders where I document my journey in detail.

For those looking for an alternative travel means other than cruising, this could well be for you. With the right crew and your own strength at independent travel, you soon become one of the family.