I want to go from New York City to any destination in Europe on a freighter. The only place I've found information for doing this requires a round trip. I don't want to go round trip. I want to spend some months in Europe and I don't care where in Europe I start.
There is a Dutch company that specializes on so called cargo ship cruises. Their URL has been in my bookmarks for some years now, but unfortunately I did not find the time to experience a cargo cruise. If I remember correctly you could order one-way tickets. But best is to contact them for additional information. I believe that the average price is around $100 per day, which might make the travel fees unpredictable.
Please update here if you find other solutions. I would still like to do a cargo cruise once.
There are several agents selling freighter journeys. Some of them do advertise one-way crossings but even if they don't you can always ask. In any case, you need to contact them, explain your needs and see if they can find a ship for you. When you are ready to book, they will require a payment and some paperwork (typically a medical form). It's not like a cruise ship with a fixed schedule or a flight which you can book online in a few minutes. When I booked one from Zylmann, they actually didn't take credit cards, you get an invoice and pay by bank transfer.
Here are a few of these agents:
- Kapitän Zylmann is based in Germany and used to list a ship on which you can book a cabin from New York to Bremerhaven or Rotterdam.
- Langsamreisen.de is also based in Germany and used to offer trips from New York to Spain or Italy.
- The Cruise People is based in the UK and offers something I haven't seen in other agents' brochures/websites: Tramp travel on a bulker (the other trips are on container ships). “Tramp travel” means that the ship is not serving a fixed line but goes to a different destination as needed. So you just know the ship will bring you from the Great Lakes region to somewhere in Europe or North Africa but you won't know the exact destination until shortly before departure.
Note that, as of 2023, a few freighters are taking passengers again after stopping due to the Covid pandemic but few long distance journeys seem currently available.
I'm afraid I don't know any companies that organise this as such. I have heard from a few travellers on the road that your best best is often just to go to the port and talk to the one in charge there. They tend the know exactly what boats are in their harbour and which ones will take passengers. I do know a lot of freighters these days have special, really nice cabins for leisure travel, they're not cheap though. Sometimes you can get free passage in exchange for doing some work on board during the trip. Good luck!
Here are some links I have collected over the past decade.
- Letters from the Pacific: 49 Days on a Cargo Ship
- Time Zones, Containers And Three Square Meals A Day
How to: travel by cargo ship (2008)