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I was trying to figure it out, and It's a tough one, I think it's not possible, but then many questions jump to mind:

How close can you get? And if there isn't a ferry, would it be possible to jump on a cargo ship in a busy harbor? Which harbors would be most suitable?

  • Technically, the Cunard connection from Southampton (UK) to New York is not a ferry but a cruise, but since it goes back and forth, I would count this one as a ferry, and you can technically ( probably super expensive) take your car with you. So the Atlantic Ocean can be crossed.

Many people online seek an answer to this question. Especially on how to pass The Pacific Ocean, I'd like to know if it is possible.

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    For your question, would shipping your car and you travelling by other maritime means work? Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 9:13
  • Was thinking about that as well, I think we have to look into this with a combined way of traveling, so not a separate shipment of your car but your car on the same vessel as you.
    – Jochem
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 9:17
  • I think even if the Curnard collection crosses the Atlantic, the pacific is going to be a big problem, especially given you can't take your car in to China and much of the Russian far east is not linked by road to the rest of the country - although at least Vladivostok is.
    – CMaster
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 11:41
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    In the British TV series: The Long Way Round, two guys manage to go from London to New York on motorbikes the wrong way, i.e. eastwards. It is a long time since I watched it but some of your answers to some of your questions might be in there. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Way_Round
    – badjohn
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 12:15
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    Not sure you can (or should) enter Russia these days. And that leaves more problems, since going from Indonesia/India westwards to Europe crosses a few other countries with "difficult" security conditions.
    – PMF
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 12:32

2 Answers 2

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I think it's not possible

I agree.

Ferries normally ply their trade over relatively short crossings. The shortest crossings between Afro-Eurasia and America would either be between Siberia and Alaska or From Greenland to Canada, possibly via Iceland. You would need both to make a "round the world" trip.

As far as I can tell, there are no ferries from Greenland to either Iceland or Canada.

Crossing the open ocean wouldn't be a "ferry" any-more. It would need to be a much larger ship. In the days before airliners there used to be ocean liners plying their trade across the worlds oceans but airliners basically killed them off, afaict there is only one left and even that is more of a toy for rich people than a practical mode of transport.

How close can you get?

Assuming you can navigate any bureaucratic issues You can start on the West Coast of Iceland. Drive across Iceland, take the ferry from Seyðisfjörður to Hirtshals, Denmark and then travel through Eurasia until the road runs out somewhere in Siberia.

The east coast of Iceland is at around 24 degrees west. The furthest east numbered road I could find in Siberia was p-504 to Magadan which has it's eastmost point at 152 degrees east. However, there seems to be a minor road branching off at "Zero. Povort on Omsukchan" ending at 155 degrees east. It's quite possible that there are other roads going further east. So you can get about half way round the world.

Alternatively, after crossing from Iceland to Denmark you could head southeast. If you can negotiate the bureaucracy of the different countries along your route, then there are roads all the way to Malaysia. It's not 100% clear to me if it's possible to reach Australia by ferry. Even if you do manage to make it to Australia though, the Eastern tip of Australia also seems to be at about 152 degrees east.

I don't think you can beat that in terms of furthest west to furthest east by road and ferry. I already mentioned the frozen north and there also doesn't seem to be any ferry from Australia to New Zealand. As has been pointed out in the comments if you instead measure by great circle distance the result may be a bit different.

Technically, the Cunard connection from Southampton (UK) to New York is not a ferry but a cruise, but since it goes back and forth, I would count this one as a ferry, and you can technically ( probably super expensive) take your car with you. So the Atlantic Ocean can be crossed.

When I searched this I found that the Queen Elizabeth 2 had the ability to carry cars in the past, but it seems the service was discontinued some time before the ship was withdrawn and its replacement, the Queen Mary 2, has no such provision.

would it be possible to jump on a cargo ship in a busy harbor?

Freighter travel was certainly possible pre-covid, but I'm pretty sure it was something that had to be arranged in advance. Freighter travel was suspended as part of measures surrounding the Covid pandemic. It looks like some lines may be reopening but it's still early days.

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    I have done a trip on a freighter a couple of weeks ago. I saw one offering a cabin from Europe to South Africa but nothing across the Atlantic or to Asia yet. As far as I know, taking a car was never an option though so not really relevant to this question.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 20:48
  • It is certainly possible to ship cars, either in containers or on ro-ro ships. Whether it's possible to arrange for yourself and your car to be carried on the same ship I do not know. Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 20:51
  • It's obviously possible to ship a car but my point was indeed that it's not realistically possible to arrange for it to travel with you on a typical freighter, especially a container or general cargo ship. Ro-ro is another question as it can mean anything from a car carrier for new cars (never saw any opportunity to travel on those) to ferries serving mostly trucks and their drivers. A ro-ro that routinely takes more than a handful of passengers and their vehicles (commercial or otherwise) is basically a ferry.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 21:03
  • If you consider any great circle as a circumnavigation, maybe from the tip of South Africa ending in Siberia might be closer? If you can use ferries to get from Thailand or Malaysia to Australia, that's even better. (It also avoids Russia!)
    – nigel222
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 9:00
  • Would the conclusion be that it is simply impossible at the moment? A full trip?
    – Jochem
    Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 7:38
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And if there isn't a ferry, would it be possible to jump on a cargo ship in a busy harbor?

I can provide more info on that one: You cannot “jump” on a freighter in the harbor, busy or otherwise. You have to book your crossing in advance, see e.g. Where can I get information on freighter travel? for more info. Many different voyages used to be available so crossing the major oceans or calling at smaller harbors was definitely possible a few years ago.

That said, very few freighter lines have resumed their passenger service so options are scarce at the moment and taking a car with you on a ship was never an option (even before Covid).

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