Shipspotters all over the world => Trip reports => Topic started by: gratefuled on February 20, 2018, 02:45:04 am

Title: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: gratefuled on February 20, 2018, 02:45:04 am
Hi, folks. New to the board.

I used to sail in and around Boston and I've wanted to take a cargo cruise ever since. I've finally booked one on CMA CGM White Shark for this July. Le Havre > Antwerp > Rotterdam > Bremerhaven > transatlantic > Charleston.

Link to ship description: (

I'd really appreciate any advice you can give me for getting as much as I can out of the experience, especially in ship and business and port operations. What to see in the limited port time. And I'm especially interested in tips for being a good passenger--ship's protocol and ways to be considerate to the crew and other passengers and such.

It's a lot to ask, but I promise to post pictures when I get back.  :)


Title: Re: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: lappino on February 20, 2018, 04:25:40 am
Hello there,

Not sure if I can be of much practical experience, but anyway. Couple of times when I was on board of a cargo vessel for a survey, they had paying passengers on board. Every time their relationship with the crew looked very cordial.

I asked just about every captain I've met about his opinion about taking passengers along; few were happy to have them, as it added responsibility. At the same time, following the basic rules should be OK with every crew.

Now, I've seen passengers mostly on general cargo vessels, with their port stays being both longer than the ones of the container vessels, as well as getting closer to towns, as compared to separate container terminals.

Therefore, getting good advice on specific ports/container terminals is key for getting the most out of port stays.

Title: Re: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: jdap on February 20, 2018, 10:27:06 am
Hi Gratefuled,

Be aware that on board there are 2 main things to remember:

1. While on board, what the Captain says is law

2. 'Safety First' applies to everybody, everywhere, anytime

Apart from that, remember a few key things:

- Inform yourself asap after boarding which areas of the ship are accessible to you, and which are not. The list may change according to things such as operations (eg, mooring, etc.), times of the day, and weather and sea conditions, for example.

- Expect mandatory drills to take place before departure or during the voyage. Make sure you know which are also mandatory for you to attend, take part, and always comply with instructions.

- Remember that to disembark, national legislation of the country being visited will apply. This varies still widely from country to country (EU, and Schengen countries in particular, being the exception). So plan your trip carefully before boarding, and make sure you have all the required documentation at hand (such as, for example, passport, visas, health and vaccination records, etc.). Remember also that all professional seamen have also a 'Seaman's Book' which may be required to disembark at some ports. Inform yourself fully first!

- Bring an helmet. It may come in handy at times...

I hope this helps.

Enjoy the trip!

Best Regards,


Title: Re: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: B.Clark on February 20, 2018, 10:39:09 am
don't forget Camera, spare batteries, memory cards and charger!!

Title: Re: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: gratefuled on February 20, 2018, 01:59:51 pm

- Bring an helmet. It may come in handy at times...

Thanks! That's all good advice. As well as a helmet, I guess I should bring my own ear and eye protection?

Title: Re: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: davidships on February 20, 2018, 02:52:11 pm
Make sure you have the contact details for the port agents at each call.

You will probably be given the one at Le Havre in the joining arrangements, but the others could be useful if ashore or are contemplating doing so.  Loading/discharge time is just when the ship's crew will be least available to deal with queries or problems.


Title: Re: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: port work on February 21, 2018, 12:56:22 am

- Bring an helmet. It may come in handy at times...

Thanks! That's all good advice. As well as a helmet, I guess I should bring my own ear and eye protection?

Not sure if you can free walking on deck, not like bulker ship
So better stay at bridge when day time till sunset time  ;D

Title: Re: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: jdap on February 21, 2018, 11:40:39 am
Hi again,

As for ear protection, that is not mandatory, unless if you are technically minded, and obtain clearance to stay for long hours in the ship engine room. In that case, ear mufflers may be required for your own protection.

Apart from that, most noises will be coming from the crew lounge, and will refer to occasional chatting among seamen off shift. Other noises during the voyage, and in particular during the North Atlantic crossing, will be limited to wind and sea, and occasional portable radio transmission sounds shared between crew members in different parts of the ship...Even seagulls will disappear just a few nm away from the shoreline. What you may need in that case, to break the surrounding sounds of silence, is a good collection of your favourite songs, and ear plugs to listen to your play lists for hours and hours...

Eye protection equipment will not be required, with the exception of a pair of good quality sun glasses. However, bear in mind that while onboard a containership, chances for laying down and getting a good sun tan may be scarse, if not nill. There may not be any sun decks on board! (unless, of course, you manage to rent a sun roof on top a container on top of a stack - in that case, beware that getting up and down there may not be an easy task... ;D).

By the way, if you have any particular skills that may be shared with others onboard, there is no harm in you proposing them to your handling agent before boarding, or to the captain once on board. If your proposal for occasional or regular contributions is accepted, that may help you kill time while at the high seas, and be (highly) appreciated by other crew members.

I am referring, for example, to skills and interests of your own that may be used on board.

If you can play the guitar, for example, and are good at it, maybe you could bring your instrument with you, and give a live concert one evening...

If you have certified training as a fireman, or as a first aid helper, or if you are an experienced general practioner, maybe your skills could be used also during the voyage for the wellbeing of the ship and the crew...

If you have professional training as a kitchen hand, you could also maybe serve in the onboard kitchen for a few hours a day (not to cook for yourself, but to help cooking for the crew)...

Of course, the scope of your contributions should be clearly spelled out beforehand, and be duly approved by whomever in charge. Once approved, you will have to meet expectations, of course! :'(

But if your proposal is approved, maybe you could negotiate a discount in your passenger's fare, and at the same time be sure to have something to do during the long, idle, boring voyage hours, and at the same time make you feel useful onboard... ???

I hope this helps.

Best regards,



Title: Re: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: jdap on February 23, 2018, 08:36:04 am
By the way...

There is another area of life onboard that is perhaps worth mentioning. It might be useful for you to get familiar with it before the trip. I am referring to Waste Management.

It is amazing how much seamen's behaviour has changed in this century with this regard. Until not so long ago, waterways and the sea were regarded as an endless waste treatment station, capable of recycling (or, at least, of absorbing) mountains of waste of all sorts, solid and liquid, produced on board. Everything was thrown overboard, and that was it.

For thousands of years, since the phoenitian started to sail in and around the Mediterranean, that was the way to go for everybody at sea.

Not any more!

There is only one planet Earth, and it needs to be respected. Seafarers have now fully realised this.

A new environmental protection culture has suddenly and quickly developed in the last few years at an amazing pace, and is now prevailing, and it is carefully followed (at least in some parts of the world) by the current generation of seafarers.

The entire cycle of waste production, collection, separation and disposal on board has been redesigned with the aim of minimizing its environmental impact. Litter is now stored onboard until a suitable port is visited, where the litter is then finally transferred to a land-based operator, to enter the usual waste management cycle there.

More on all this from the website of IMO's Marine Environment:

I strongly recommend you get familiar with this subject before you go on board.

Once onboard, and during the voyage, maybe you can ask the Captain or the Environmental Officer to lecture you a bit on the subject, and show you around the ship how the vessel now handles the IMO recommendations on waste disposal. It may sound like a smelly subject, but it may turn out to be quite interesting to you.

In any case, and the message is, once onboard, do not throw any of your waste overboard! Please use the waste bins provided there for the purpose!

Have a nice trip!

Best regards,


Title: Re: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: gratefuled on February 23, 2018, 01:13:27 pm
Thanks! That's extremely interesting. I'm the sort who likes to learn about systems integration--like at a large music festival, for instance, where there are all kinds of smaller operations (vending, artist relations, crowd control, production, etc.) coming together. How and why are they set up that way, and how do they turn a profit? That sort of thing. So seeing how all the ship's systems work together would help me come away with a much deeper understanding of the industry, which is one of the main reasons I'm looking forward to this trip.

Title: Re: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: Michael Bender on February 23, 2018, 10:59:40 pm
Congratulations to your first Cargo Cruise

If you understand german, you can have a look on my website
I wrote trip reports of my 9 cargo cruises.
There you can also have look on lots of pictures of my trips.

On each trip i paid some beer and non-alcohol drinks for barbecue or crew party to say Thank You to the crew. It was always welcome.   

If you can stay on the bridge during maneuvering, keep distance and don't disturb the crew and pilot. The will be happy with this.

If you stay on board in the ports, it is not allowed to stay outside on deck. Exception is outside the accomodation.

If you like to see the engine room, ask the chief engineer. He will arrange a guided tour.
Maybe he does it himself otherwise someone of the engine crew.

Be aware the crew is working on different watches, so most of the time someone will be sleeping. Maybe in the next cabin ;)
--> closed door: Do not disturb!

Have a nice trip!

If you have further questions, tell me. Maybe i can answer it.


Title: Re: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: jdap on February 24, 2018, 10:24:57 pm
Back for a quickie...

I visited Micha's website, which I found very interesting...

That led me to some of the contacts he has used.

And I looked out what the Pros have to say about Freight ship cruising. Maybe you may wish to pay a visit to the website below, for example - it should help clarify all your doubts, and answer all your questions:

Best regards,


Title: Re: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: gratefuled on February 24, 2018, 11:16:13 pm
Thanks again, Jose...that's great information.

Title: Re: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: Pieter Inpyn on February 25, 2018, 09:23:50 am
I did make one trip for a week in the Baltic with a ro-ro-vessel. Compared to cruising I did find the facilities (the cabin) very basic but that was fine with me: it was a working vessel. But:
Deck space very limited: only a short walk possible on an accommodation deck. Do take care that you are not locked out outside by accident while you are making outside a picture of a passing vessel. It happened to me and it was one hour later before the next crewmember did see me outside in the freezing cold.
Take some movies on digital devices with you: the crew is very grateful for seeing something new. Television-channels on board very limited or total non-European rubbish.
Also big ships have small crews that are either working or sleeping. Days at sea can be lonely: take books or other entertainment with you and maybe leave them on board for the crew.
Know in advance what you are allowed to bring on board on cigarettes and alcohol. And additional insurance is maybe required, because medical evacuation is sometimes not included in the normal medical / travel insurances.
And CMA CGM is a French company: do you know some of the language, English may not be spoken by every crew member.
Just some remarks.

Title: Re: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: smithy166 on February 26, 2018, 01:39:33 am
A couple of points from a crewmembers perspective:

-Don't expect everyone to have decent English skills. The CMA CGM boats have multinational crews, some of whom speak great English and some of whom speak basic English.
-If you've got Filipino's onboard, the karaoke machine will be your quickest way to become their best friend.
-Some vessels have a very rigid hierarchy, especially in the messroom(s). If the master tells you to sit somewhere, or the chief steward has laid a particular place for you at the table, sit there. This will likely be in the officers mess, not the ratings mess.
-Do NOT appear on the bridge 5 minutes before we're alongside asking to go ashore. It's best to give the relevant people a few days/weeks notice if you'd like to get off for a few hours, so they can get hold of the agent etc and sort something out.
-Make sure you know when to be back on board (they'll usually be a "shore leave expires at XXXX HRS on the XX/XX/XXXX local time" board by the gangway).
-Make sure you're back onboard by that time. If you're not, we'll still pull the gangway up and leave. Time and tide wait for no man, as they say!
-If you break something, PLEASE tell someone. We honestly won't care that you've broken it, and we won't be mad... But we'd like to know, so we can fix it.
-Try to get to know the crew - We can get sick of the same people day in day out, so a new smiling face makes a nice change!
-As others have said, know where you can and can't go. The bridge will probably be off-limits during arrival and departure (if it's not, please don't get in the way... We'll be pretty busy trying not to hit anything/run aground/getting annoyed with the tugs/weather/current/some moronic WAFI who wants to play a game of chicken with us/something else). If there is somewhere you'd like to go, ask! 9 times out of 10 we'll be more than happy to show you around when we're not busy.
-If the cabin door is closed, don't come knocking. We're sleeping. If the door is open and the certain has been pulled across try knocking, we're probably in!
-Good rest = Good night.
-It's customary to thank the cook when you're dumping your dirty dishes in the scullery.
-Recent DVDs/TV shows/Music will be greatly appreciated. If someone asks for porn, that's up to you to decide...
-If you're not sure whether you're supposed to show up during a drill, go to your muster point. Better to be safe than sorry!
-Don't be scared to have a chat with the OOW (officer on watch) if you're allowed on the bridge/in the ECR when at sea. If we're busy, we'll probably tell you politely to be quiet for a while.
-The ship is our home. Whilst we're happy to have you onboard and would love to show you around our girl, please treat her like you'd treat someone elses house.
-Have two pairs of shoes - An outside pair (for when you go ashore etc) and a cheap, clean pair for use in the accommodation. If there's shoe-covers by the doors, please use them.
-Keep an eye on the crews notice board. It'll have information about changes to ships time, drills, shore leave (maybe) etc.
-If you'd like to help, ask! Please don't just grab a mooring rope when we're coming alongside. You'll give the poor bosun a heart attack.
-If you're visiting the bridge at night, please don't walk in with a torch. Night vision = The watchkeepers friend. If you point that huge LED torch at my face and burn my retinas out, it WILL mysteriously disappear, never to be seen again...
-Cabin walls aren't as thick as they look. If you're having a rave, the rest of the ship WILL hear.
-If you've got any allergies etc, let the captain/galley know - Even if you've let the company know ahead of time. Sometimes messages get lost between the office and the ship.
-The toilets will probably be vacuum. When we say "don't put anything other than what comes out of your body and toilet paper down" them, we mean it...  You'd be surprised how much noise a mad engineer can make when they're told they need to dismantle half of the toilet system to clear a blockage.
-One hand for you, one for the ship. At ALL times.
-Try to show an interest in what we do, even if you know more than the crew.
-Most of all, try to fit in with the crew. It'll make your cruise happier, and our time away from home happier too!
-Oh, and enjoy yourself!


Title: Re: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: gratefuled on February 26, 2018, 03:10:54 am
Also great advice...thanks for putting in so much time and effort!

Quick technical question. You say:

>Recent DVDs/TV shows/Music will be greatly appreciated.

Can I reasonably assume the DVD players will be multi-region or region-free?

Might be a dumb question because I know nobody can say exactly what's on each vessel, of course, but I'd hate to bring DVDs from the US for a gift to the crew only to find out they were unplayable.

Title: Re: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: seaway7228 on February 26, 2018, 02:33:48 pm
Ensure bottle jars cans and other sliding objects are secure and unlikely to start rolling around in any sort of seaway. That chairs are wedged are laid down in the least likely manner to fall over in rough weather especially in sharp quick rolling and pitching. Nothing worse than bonk-rattle-rattle -rattle bonk across a surface (usually inside an otherwise empty cabin drawer)- , or doors slamming --especially in the empty locked cabin next to yours  :-)

In the event of rolling heavily wedge a pillow under the offside of the bunk mattress it will help hold you against the bulkhead.

Make sure that doors entry door and toilet door are closed or opened and secured on a latch and close them quietly at all times.

If you have a favourite snack, bring some with you. Nothing like your own snacks on a vessel.

Dont sit on rails and dont walk up the weather side of the deck.

Whether a helmet is needed. This may be a tongue in cheek comment as the ship ought to have spare helmets but its unlikely you would require one. Ear plugs are cheap easy to carry and you only need the soft airline type plugs. If they offer a tour of the engine room they will probably offer you a set of ear muffs anyway. and Boots.

The bridge or wheelhouse is the place most passengers take an interest in and its advisable to judge the temperament and character of the watch keeper before asking permission to "hang around quietly" Some guys are quite welcoming but others do actually prefer a relatively unspoken watch.

Obviously in busy times when there is a lot of traffic around and the officer needs a little extra consideration time, is a good time to go up to the monkey island.

Never borrow the binoculars without checking to see who they belong to (permission)and whether the glasses have been set for a specific owner or user.

Never distract the lookout or strike up a conversation with him on watch. Officer may be a different matter.

Dont scare the watch officer at night by creeping up behind him and shouting "BOO".

Have a great trip.   Greg.

Title: Re: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: Paul Bradshaw on February 27, 2018, 10:20:59 pm
Ear plugs for sure. Rolled up toilet paper will be a distraction during your engine room tour.

Title: Re: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: Russell Judge on March 01, 2018, 12:01:10 pm
Regarding personal electrics ie chargers, you must find out the type of current operating (Normally AC these days but may be 240v or 110v.)
Also the type of electrical socket as there seems to be no standard; probably best to buy an international type adaptor with various interchangeable pins (UK US or Schuko Euro types) Really quite cheap but essential!

Title: Re: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: smithy166 on March 01, 2018, 09:16:04 pm
Can I reasonably assume the DVD players will be multi-region or region-free?

It depends entirely on the vessel, sadly.

If you want to give something to the crew to say thanks, have a chat with the Master about donating a small amount to the ships welfare fund. That way the crew can spend it on what they need most (usually a new TV for the mess room, exercise bikes for the gym, sim cards etc etc...)

Something I forgot to mention before - ALWAYS assume the ship will be a "dry" ship. Do not bring booze etc aboard. If alcohol consumption is allowed on board, you'll be able to get some from the bonded store. Same with tobacco etc.

Oh, and keep your toilet door shut, especially when showering. Steam from the shower has a nasty habit of setting the cabin fire alarm off... Which will result in some half-asleep sailor bursting through your cabin door, fire extinguisher in one hand and radio in the other screaming about a "fire"...

Title: Re: Just booked a cargo cruise with CMA CGM. Advice for a great trip?
Post by: jdap on March 03, 2018, 01:20:37 am
Hi again,

And congratulations for starting this thread. You managed to collect a very complete set of highly instructive insights on life onboard a containership from a vast array of contributors, to all of whom I am sure you are very grateful. They reflect accurately the perspective of the professional seaman working onboard.

Summing up, you have booked a trip on a containership. The trip will extend over two continents, will last for some three weeks, and you will visit several ports along the way.

And by now you already know all the DO’s and DONT’s that will make your presence onboard a success. This thread already contains 99.9% of what you will need to know.

From your own personal standpoint, however, and in order to be able to enjoy every minute of the trip on an end-to-end basis, I think you will need to view yourself according to a dual framework:

-   As a Passenger
-   As a Tourist

Expectations and behaviours are likely to differ in the two cases.

Passengers onboard a container ship can be tolerated, even be considered welcome, but are infrequent, as they are not the rule. Facilities and services onboard are not designed to cater for any special needs of passengers, but whatever exists onboard can be used by the sporadic, courageous few that come onboard, provided they comply with the prevailing rules (written, and unwritten) regulating life on board the ship.

What does a Passenger want? As a Passenger you simply want to go from A (starting port) to B (arrival port) onboard a non-conventional mode of transport (for most Passengers). You are now concerned with fitting well in the well-established, on-going, well-organized, safe and comfortable (within reason) non-standard mode of transport you have chosen to travel from A to B. There is no doubt this can be achieved by the environment in which you are embedded, i.e., the ship and her crew.

If, as a Passenger, you behave just likely any crew member, even if they have a mission (job) onboard and you don’t, your trip will be a success.

Allow me only to suggest a couple of things for your consideration that may help improve your stay, and your experience, onboard. Up to you to judge whether my suggestions may be of interest to you, or not.

•   On Binoculars:
Maybe you can consider investing on a pair of long range binoculars, and bring them as part of your luggage. Carry them with you at all times while on the bridge, or outside. If you have them with you, maybe they end up bringing endless joy to you, and be a source of very lively entertainment when you least expect. You’ll be amazed how curious you may get sometimes, when you finally spot a dot on the horizon, and wish to know more about it…Binoculars do not cost much, and you may find them easily  on the internet or at your local maritime store.  At the end of the trip, you may even keep them for future use, or as a souvenir…

•   On staying outside while sailing (on deck, or wherever they will let you…):
Maybe you can give some consideration to investing in a light weight folding chair, that you may buy at any department store at Le Havre before reporting onboard. I do not think anybody will object to you bringing it onboard, but you may wish to check with your handling agent before the trip starts. If that is OK, you can carry it folded under your arm when you check-in onboard, and inside the ship. After departure, when you find a good spot where you may want to sit outside, your own foldable chair may give you lots of freedom to sit there for a long period of time in reasonable comfort, without risking having to sit on a rail or pipe, and be frown at by whomever is in charge at that time… When you retire to your quarters, you simple fold the chair up again, and take it with you. A couple of elastic cords with hooks at the end (that you may also purchase at the same department store) will help you quickly and firmly secure the folded chair inside the cabin when not in use. Remember always that containerships have no stabilizers, and unrestrained objects are subject to the laws of gravity… At the end of the trip, you may perhaps give the chair away as a gift to a crew member, and leave it on board. No need to carry it with you on the flight home!

Of course, during the trip you may decide to be a 100% Passenger. This means you stay onboard at every single intermediate port, and await departure wherever they tell you is a safe place for you to be during the loading/unloading (or bunkering) operations. Fine! If that is the case, please disregard what I say below, which attempts at expanding your insights on what it may mean and entail being a Tourist under the extraordinary circumstances you have chosen.

As a Tourist your aim is probably Discovery. This means you will want to disembark at every intermediate port, or at least at some of them, and move around freely outside of the port area.

For that you will be essentially on your own. And in a foreign environment (not to confuse with a foreign country, which may also be the case).

Little has been said so far about the container terminals that the ship is scheduled to visit along the way. On the other hand, containerships travel frequently on a tight schedule and have quick turnarounds at most ports. And like all ships, they wait for no one when it is time to leave.

Please be aware that when you disembark at an intermediate port, you will need to comply with a severe constraint, which is Time. Again, I stress the fact you will be on your own. Excellent time management will be essential to ensure the success of the Tourist part of your trip.

 You need to be concerned not only with your personal safety on land, but also with the organization of local transport that will take you back and forth to the places you may want to discover. Remember, while on land you are on your own... Unlike what happens with passenger cruises, you will have no-one organizing things for you. And you will have no ship-related support on land… no cruise tour guides, for example. All support, if any, will be limited to the contacts you may have established by yourself in advance, or during your stay ashore.

That is why, in my humble opinion, you need to pursue the subject of disembarkation further. Some additional considerations and information that might help plan your intermediate port visits may also be very useful.

So, please allow me only to add just a few more words to clarify this last point, provide a few more hints, and hopefully help you plan better, and in due time, the land part of your trip.

To become a happy Tourist in this case you may need to consider in advance a few things:
-   Pro’s and Con’s of disembarking at a given port (ie., Go/No-Go)
-   What is required to disembark, and then come back onboard again
-   Where to go and what to do while on land (your ‘discovery’ goals)
-   How to get there and back in time to catch the gangway, still on the quay
-   Whom to contact on land to obtain all information, and for support in case of need

Please give some consideration to the following aspects regarding the shore environment:

The ship can be viewed as a mobile industrial plant of the seagoing type that is part of a global containerized logistics chain. Intermediate ports visited during the trip can then be viewed as land-based industrial parks that are part of the same global logistics chain, where ships moor, but where multiple modes of land-based mobile transport (cranes, tractors, trucks and trains) operate also. This array of vehicles renders the container terminals a highly hazardous environment. You may easily describe them as organized chaos. It is an hostile environment for anybody, where it is not advisable to walk around on your own, especially if you do not know the place…

Container terminals are usually huge, and are often located in remote areas. This means they may be miles away from the city centre. They are not meant for Tourists. So, do not expect to find rent-a-car services, for example, outside the container terminal main entrance, or even a taxi stand nearby…Even bus stops may be hard to find, and bus schedules may very well be irregular, and aligned mainly to the port workers’ shifts, which may not suit you…

Container terminal areas are also extra-territorial industrial facilities. In Europe, this means that there are border controls to access or leave the premises. In most container terminals there is no terminal building as such, so those controls normally take place at the terminal gate.  Please bear in mind that the distance from a moored ship to a port gate may easily be half a mile, or even more. That means a 10-15 minute walk as a minimum, often even a lot more, as a straight path from ship to gate may be obstructed (by stored containers, freight trains, etc.), be offlimits due to ongoing work, or not be allowed due to miscellaneous safety reasons. Add to that the time required by the border controls at the gate, and if you estimate half an hour per leg (out, and back in again), it may be close to an hour or so before you are finally outside, turnaround, go back to the gate to re-enter the port facilities, and go back by the ship’s gangway again...

Each port is different. What may be easy to achieve in one may be extremely hard to achieve in another. Each container terminal has an operator, as each port has a port authority. These entities have their own rules and regulations covering movements inside the container terminal premises. Also for them, safety is a primary concern. So you may not be allowed to walk freely in there, unless you are duly authorized by those entities. Authorizations take time (maybe a couple of days) and may entail having to sign a Port Safety Rules compliance document in advance. And when you enter the area, you often are required to wear a safety helmet and vest... Theoretically, that may be required also in case you come to the quay from the moored ship only to take a photo of your lady... Beware of port security if you are a non compliant photographer…Naturally, and on top, only duly authorized vehicles will be allowed inside the terminal premises. So, disregard taxis by the gangway…

Last but not least, bear in mind that most container terminals work around the clock. Which means that your ship may very well arrive at an intermediate port after dusk, and leave before dawn the following morning…That may render going into town even more difficult! And what you may do in town at night will be completely different from what you may expect to see or do there during the daytime…in that case, will your interest in going ashore still be the same?

So, allow me to give you a few suggestions for the homework you will invariably have to do if you want to be a successful Tourist during this trip:
-   Obtain your ship’s intermediate ports’ schedule for reference asap
-   Calculate effective available time to be on land at each intermediate port (and factor in appropriate margins)
-   Visit the websites of Port Authorities and Container Terminal Operators of the intermediate ports, and obtain info on access to the facilities for non-Workers (as a minimum, for your general information…)
-   Get familiar with port lay-outs in the greatest possible detail (expanded satellite views, for example, may help…)
-   Identify tourist targets in the area that you wish to visit. Check their exact location, distance from the port, opening hours, means to get there, land travel times, etc., and prioritize them according to your interests (you may not be able to visit every single tourist sight if the duration of your stay on land is short…)
-   Compare time to visit preferred targets with the effective available time above, and check if they are compatible
-   Check mobility in the area with the help, for example, of applications such as Google Maps, Street View, Bus schedules, etc.
-   Discuss the subject of disembarkation at the intermediate ports with your handling agent before the trip starts
-   Obtain the lists of the ship’s port agents at all intermediate locations, including emergency contacts
-   As soon as you enter the ship, identify the person onboard that is responsible for liaising with the port agents (clerical work…), and obtain info on the process to follow for disembarkation at the intermediate ports
-   Confirm to that person onboard with at least 48 hours’ advance notice your intention to disembark at the next intermediate port
-   Check if it is possible for the ship’s port agent to come and collect you with a car at the gangway immediately after mooring, take you to the port gate (as a minimum), and, for the return trip, to collect you at the port gate (or downtown, if at all possible…) at a set time, to take you back in the car across the terminal facilities to the ship’s gangway
-   Ask if there is a charge for any service that will be provided in relationship to your disembarkation at the intermediate port, and if so, how much that service will cost
-   Leave your private mobile phone number with the Captain before disembarking, so that he may warn you if the ship has to leave ahead of schedule for whatever reason…not likely, but it might happen!

So, Passenger? Or Passenger and Tourist? You decide!

I hope this helps.

Have a great trip!

Best regards,