I would like to take a ship from Europe to Djibouti, as I will study there for the next 4 months in Ethiopia.

As for traveling, I would really like to go by ship, rather than flying. Could I work on a ship and in exchange for free passage? I was unable to find ferries that run from a French port (Marseille) to Djibouti.

  • 2
    No ship of any size will take on crew who are simply working their way to the next port, commercial ships want experienced hands on deck. You might find a sailboat looking for crew, but again they usually look for folks with experience.
    – user13044
    Aug 2, 2017 at 21:40
  • Let me be stupefied at this: what century do you think we are in...? Your description makes me think of coal fueled ships where 73 coal trimmers and 33 greasers worked on the RMS Titanic. The gigantic Emma Maersk container ships normal crew size is thirteen. emma-maersk.com/specification They don't need an untrained hand, in fact it would be dangerous to the ship and every other ship passing close as well.
    – chx
    Aug 4, 2017 at 2:07

2 Answers 2


Traveling on a ship is possible but much harder than you seem to think. It's even more difficult if you're not flexible with the time and destination.

  • Ferries: I have never heard of anything like that and would be extremely surprised, the distance is very long, includes the Suez canal and an area marred by instability and piracy, and the market ought to be limited.

  • Traveling for free on a freighter: I don't think so. It's difficult to rule it out categorically but it's not the way international transport works nowadays. We had earlier questions about this, e.g. From Portugal or Spain to the United States by cargo ship

  • Traveling as a paying passenger on a freighter: That's in principle possible, but it is pricey. We also had a few questions about this, e.g. Where can I get information on freighter travel? However, searching some agencies specialised in this did not yield any results for Djibouti.

  • Luxury cruises: Probably not what you are looking for but, hey, it's a ship! Notably, the Ponant was attacked out of Somalia a few years back and there are still cruises operating in the area, including diving expeditions out of Egypt or Sudan. Not sure whether Djibouti is a common port of call or if traveling all the way to France by sea is possible and at what price. Most of these (including this one from Djibouti) would actually be round trips returning to the same port located not so far from the diving area.

  • Embarking on a sailboat: There are in fact people looking for crewmates to attempt an ocean crossing on their own boats and platforms dedicated to that. Experience is appreciated but that might be the most realistic possibility. I don't know much more about this and I am not sure many people are doing this in the Red Sea at the moment (as opposed to crossing the Atlantic or possibly rounding Africa).


There is a website called Find a crew to look for crew / boats, looking for people with various experience, sometimes offering rides for free. However, the general rule is "either you're experienced and you go for free (or even get paid) or you're amateur and you have to pay".

There are no boats to Djibouti from anywhere available there now.

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