We are pleased that you chose a cargo ship cruise.
Please take a moment of your time to find out what makes this way of travelling so special by reading the “Log Book”. You should perceive this “log book” as a supplement to the descriptions in the brochure, our “General conditions” and the shipping companies’ conditions.
Cargo Ships do not sail on schedule like trains do. Tides and wind, delay or speed up of working procedures at the last harbour, unforeseeable waiting periods at locks, and other eventualities may cause unpunctuality.
Therefore please keep in contact with us before your departure so that we can announce the exact departure date. Persons with a longer journey would be wise to include an overnight stay in a hotel before embarkation, in order not to arrive on board at the last minute.
It is important to inform us about your present whereabouts during the days before departure, giving your phone number (hotel, relatives, etc.), so that not only you can reach us, but we too are able to contact you at any time. Please don’t leave home, trusting in luck, without having contacted us beforehand.
Arrival by Train or Plane
I you travel by train or plane please book your ticket shortly prior to departure to avoid rebooking or cancellation. This applies as well to the booking of a hotel. In most cases the easiest way to get to the berth is to take a taxi from the station, airport or hotel.
To get more information about the procedure of the embarkation please read your checklist carefully. You received it together with your booking documents.
Usually the vessel does not sail immediately after your boarding. Cargo procedures often need longer then expected and you got a “save” time for boarding the vessel. Just watch the loading/discharging and other activities in the port around the vessel. Cargo procedures are a part of a freighter travel.
One or two days before departure we will inform you about the berth. For embarkations abroad we may provide you as well with the telephone number of the local agent. Please contact this agent only if we have told you to do so or in cases of emergency (i.e. your vessel is not tied up at the scheduled place). In some harbours (i. e. in Italy) the shipping agencies charge additional embarkation fees from passengers, but not if you say you are just “visiting” the ship.
We advise you strongly to pay taxi, hotel or other services directly on the spot and to ask for a receipt. You may as well ask for the price before and negotiate a fix price so you do not get an unpleasant surprise in the end. In some countries the agencies and taxi drivers sometimes charge inflated prices and send these bills to the shipping companies who will charge you then.
When you arrive at the port you will see many fork-lift trucks, cranes and lorries shunting briskly. The view of the driver is often restricted by bulky goods. You better avoid these vehicles.
The area between the entrance gate and the ship is often prohibited. These terminals offer a free bus service. Ask at the gate or the captain before leaving the ship who can order the shuttle service for you. For your own safety please note that you – like everybody on board – have to follow the orders of the ships command at all times and without exception. Security is a top priority on board a cargo ship.
If you have to cross the port area on foot:
Look around well before choosing your route and check at corners, exits of sheds, etc., whether such a vehicle is not approaching. Please do not park your car on the rails but in a safe place.
Before entering the gangway to the ship, look whether the gangway is lying safely on the land side. If the handrails are made of rope they sometimes give way but the vertical supports will not. You do not need to drag your heavy suitcase on board alone. Ask somebody on board to help you.
It can happen that there is no gangway for a while because of shifting or to avoid damage. Please do not jump on deck or shore without gangway. Better wait until it is rigged well again.
You may be surprised that the deck and the superstructure of the ship give a somewhat wild appearance in the harbour. Particularly in German ports additional jobs have to be carried out: Supplies and equipment are shipped on board, repairs are performed and loading and unloading is going on. Many things have to be done by few people.
But the really comfortable time will begin when you have “boarded the ship”. Ask for the captain or the first officer, and on big vessels for another officer. These gentlemen are not always available in the harbour because they are dealing with loading business. In this case somebody else – even the gangway man or the cook – will help you and show you to your cabin. By the way, sailors call the cabin “bunk” even if your cabin is the most luxurious admiral’s Suite.
We recommend to bring some drinks with you for the first day because the canteen will be opened again after leaving the harbour.
As soon as the ship has left the coast, there is time for tidying up and things get less hectic. The every day life on board starts.
Board Language and Security Information
Seafaring is international. Please keep in mind that on most vessels – even if the captain is German – the communication with the crew and the officers will be in English and the security information will be given in English language as well. An English dictionary could be very useful.
Don’t forget that some countries require a passport which is valid for another 6 months, and in exceptional cases, even for 12 months in order to enter this country.
You should think about the necessary visas and vaccinations well in time before starting your journey. You will find additional information regarding the visa and vaccination requirements in your “Checklist” received together with our booking documents.
Some countries outside Europe demand a return ticket on arrival.
You are asked to hand your passport over, and in some cases the vaccination certificate, to the captain or the ship’s officer immediately. He will have to submit these documents to the authorities before leaving the harbour. When submitting these documents you should ask for the time of sailing and in the case of your wishing to go ashore once more, the latest time you should be back on board.
In many ports passengers on cargo vessels have to be listed as crew members. The vaccination requirements applying for crew members may vary from the requirements for tourists. Please check the information in our passage description.
Now you will make yourself at home in your cabin. And you will ask yourself how everything will continue? Of course, bed linen, towels and detergents are already at your disposal. If not, ask the steward or a crew member.
In general, shipping companies do not offer a cabin steward service and such a service is neither usual, nor possible nor included in the price. Cleaning aids are at your disposal. On big vessels there is a steward on board but on principle his duties do not allow a cabin service for passengers. Nowadays passages on cargo ships are only possible at acceptably low prices, without additional staff for passengers. This is the only way passages on cargo ships are viable.
In some ports, or at the locks of the Kiel Canal, a quick change-over of passengers will take place. While some are disembarking, the next passengers are already waiting on the pier. In such cases the shipping companies ask us to tell you to leave your cabin in sufficient time before arrival to give a crew member time to inspect and prepare the cabin for new guests. We would be grateful four your cooperation.
Even when in the harbour the auxiliary diesel generators continue to produce electricity. Many passengers love to listen to the comfortable humming of these engines. To be on the safe side we recommend that passengers who are particularly sensitive to noise take ear plugs with them.
By the way, here an insider tip regarding the cabin door: You will notice when you are at sea that a closed cabin door signalizes: “I do not want to be disturbed” whereas an open door means: “You are welcome”. During my running time one of the passengers did win a bet with an officer. The price was a bottle of whiskey. Unfortunately the passenger nearly never received the whiskey because he held his door closed all the time not knowing the meaning of a closed door.
If you want to be on your own for a few hours just let the crew know so they are not worried about you.
On most ships the meals will be taken in the officer’s mess Find out beforehand where the meals are served.
The mealtimes and breaks on most ships are as follows:
At 07.30 – 08.30 o’clock breakfast
At 10.00 o’clock “teatime” (usually just tea)
At 11.30 – 12.30 o’clock lunch
At 15.00 o’clock afternoon coffee
At 17.30 – 18.30 o’clock evening meal
On some small ships with limited space in the mess, meals will sometimes have to be taken in two groups. You will be informed of the times on board.
On some – mostly smaller – cargo ships the mess facilities are simple according to seafaring custom. There may be an easy-care plastic table-cloth or the sugar pot is an old jam jar. These are the messes on board working vessels.
You will share the standard food on board, that the captain, officers and crew get, without exception. Table wine is not usual on board German vessels but there will be coffee at breakfast and tea at the evening meal. The cook has to work according to a plan which allows him to manage his supplies equally until the stores are restocked.
As well as the usual bread, cold meat, sausage and jam you will often get a warm meal in the mornings and evenings.
There is no dress code on board although you should not appear half-dressed.
Please give prior notice if you do not intend taking a meal.
Children need more action than adults but please remember that work carries on at the ship round the clock. Due to watch duty some of the officers and crew have to sleep during the day. Even to speak loudly in the service alleyways might be disturbing.
High waves occur throughout the year even without a storm. Sailors and passengers get used to it. All doors can be hooked back even when they are open. Please make sure that the doors are properly fixed, especially when leaving the harbour, as they will start swinging with the movement of the ship.
Everything in your cabin should be placed so that nothing can fall down if the ship begins to pitch. We recommend taking some strong string to tie your radio etc. down. Swell must be taken into consideration even in calm weather. On many ships the chairs can be fixed, and you will be shown how to do this.
It is advantageous to wear non-skid shoes. In case of rain and salt water spray the outer decks and the stairs will be slightly slippery. If the ship pitches and tosses heavily it is better to use the interior stairs.
The outer decks can be dirty. Please use the mats near the doors extensively. The crew will be thankful.
Ask your doctor to tell you a good remedy for seasickness. In most cases seasickness passes very quickly or does not occur at all. Moreover, ships do not always pitch and toss. I travelled from Europe via Africa to the USA and back again. During this voyage a glass stood on the table for three months without falling off.
We recommend passengers to take a shortwave receiver or other entertainment facilities with them. A radio, TV or DVD-player is seldom installed in the cabins.
Most ships have a video recorder (mainly VHS System) or DVD player in addition to the television set. So it is possible to watch a film way out at sea. Radio and television transmission is not possible out at sea and is often bad near the coast and in the harbour. The television and video recorder are usually to be found in the officer’s mess and not in the cabins. Many ships have a collection of board games.
Electricity supply: 220V and European shock-proof sockets and a banana plug. You will find more information at our passage description
Bring the books that you have been planning to read for a long time. I knew a gentleman who always took seafaring literature with him. This kept his spirits high on board.
Sometimes, on long sea voyages, there is a swimming pool and a fitness room used by the crew which you may use as well. In the case of strong swell it is not recommended that you use the swimming pool.
The surrounding deck may also be slippery because of water overflowing, so there is a danger of skidding. Please be careful. The use of the swimming pool depends on the captain’s orders.
On the high sea the swimming pools are filled with clear salt water. In most cases the pools cannot be refilled in the harbour and because of soot and dust the water looses its quality. But, unlike the crew, you have the chance to cool off ashore.
It is generally possible to visit the bridge. Please bear in mind that the bridge is a working area – or even office where the captain and the officers have to make phone calls and carry out important planning and administration work
However, on many ships it is normally not possible to visit the bridge in areas like canals, harbours etc. Nevertheless, do not hesitate to ask the captain or the officer. Sometimes a friendly word can open a door.
However, the best view will only be half as beautiful without good binoculars. As the binoculars on the bridge are important for nautical work, they cannot be lent to the passengers. Please use your own.
By the way, should you enter the bridge while at sea, do not knock. Greet – particularly in the darkness – in a low voice so that you are understood and noticed. Then wait, just out of sight, until your eyes have got used to the darkness. It is customary – if something is happening around the ship – to speak in a low voice so that the steersman or the captain are able to listen to the ship’s radio. In the case of fog, steering towards a port and travelling along a river, distractions may easily have serious consequences.
On the other hand, many a seaman will enjoy an interesting conversation with you during the long watches at sea..
The comparison of cargo ship and passenger ship is as with a lorry and a luxury coach.
The passengers who decide to travel on a cargo ship cannot expect the same service and quietness they would get on a luxury liner. And, for example, some soot and dirt can be expected, especially during harbour manoeuvres.
The captain of a cargo ship is responsible for the ship, the cargo and the people on board the ship and has therefore many duties and responsibilities. Please understand that he cannot be at your disposal personally – in many cases another crew member may be able to help you.
We are often asked about “tips” on board cargo ships. In principle you do not have to give a tip. Should you wish for all crew members to be tipped please ask the captain about a crew kitty. Some passengers brought for example some DVDs for the crew. Please keep in mind that most of the crew members speak English.
You should avoid the decks next to the hatches, the cargo holds, as long as work is going on in the harbour (increased danger of accidents). This is especially relevant during docking and casting off and particularly at the front and rear of the ship where the mooring ropes are positioned. Working with these heavy ropes is dangerous, even for seamen. You may watch everything in detail from the decks of the ship’s superstructure.
When the sea is calm a stay at the bow is a special experience. On most ships it is common for security reasons to tell the officer on the bridge if you want to visit the bow.
Pick-pockets are quick workers, not only in exotic ports.
Regarding your cabin: When leaving your cabin, it is advisable to lock the door and bolt the windows. Even if you are in the harbour and sleep in the cabin, please bolt the door from the inside. In order to protect yourself from the “quick finger” it is better to lock the locker where you keep your camera, etc.
At sea this precaution isn’t necessary as seamen are honest souls.
Please deposit objects of value, money or cheques with the captain and get a receipt. Bigger ships will have a safe. Please remember that the contents of the safe have a very limited insurance value.
Spirits, tobacco, foreign currency, photo equipment and other objects of value have to be declared to customs on arrival. Please get individual information so that there will be no trouble with customs in case you have forgotten something. Should you take valuable objects with you on the voyage, it is advisable to ask the customs in your native country, before departure, so that you can later re-import without any custom duties. A sales receipt and customs endorsement can avoid problems.
You can buy lemonade, beer, spirits and tobacco products on board (captain or steward) in a limited amount. On the day of your arrival you might not be able to buy anything because it is too busy during the time in the harbour or because the custom has sealed the rooms. I recommend to bring along a bottle of water at arrival to make the idle time easier for you.
On some vessels spirits are not available. Wines and pipe tobacco are rare whereas beer is no problem. All these goods are paid for in cash or settled by a simple ticket system. Please carry enough cash to pay for these things, and possibly telephone calls, as cheques and credit cards are not accepted.
It is advisable to take films, batteries, sewing thins, soap and toothpaste as well as a small amount of washing powder on the voyage. Some “nibbles” are a good thing, too.
There are no shops at sea and the shops in the next port may be far away.
It is possible to wash clothes aboard every ship (i. e. there is a washing machine, a room for drying etc.). The use of these facilities is arranged on board. Ask there.
In most ports shore leave is not a problem.
You must know that it may happen that the vessel enters a port but port authorities or public authorities or other circumstances do not allow shore leaving. It is also possible that a vessel has to load or discharge on the roads (outside the port) and shore leave is not possible or not free of charge.
We cannot give any information regarding the duration of shore leave. The duration may differ between a few hours and 1-2 days according to the area, ship or amount of cargo. The duration depends on the time of arrival, the quantity of cargo, the cranes and the work force at disposal. Therefore the captain will only be able to give times on arrival. The ships may enter or leave the harbour at night.
The ship’s berth is often far from the town centre. Ask on board for the best way to get into town.
Before leaving the ship find out when you should be back on board. It would be a pity if the ship continued its voyage without you. The ship cannot wait for individuals. Write down the designation of the berth and in case of emergence the address/phone number of the shipping agency. This way you “will ensure your retreat” as a friend of mine put it. Do not forget to leave you mobile phone number with the ships command so that you can be reached in case of emergency.
Unfortunately there are some ports in the world where the crime rate, caused by the great poverty in those countries, is very high. This is even true in places well frequented by tourists.
We advise you to get information on board as to how safe the harbour is. In some harbours it is better not to wear jewellery, wrist watches, handbags, etc. in public. Money and objects of value are best deposited in close fitting pockets. When leaving the ship, seamen usually hide their money in several different places about them. On their return, the money will all be spent, but at least by them and not by someone else.
If you have a special wish, i. e. you wish to rent a car in the harbour, then tell the captain in time. Possibly (but not always) he can ask the harbour agency to bring brochures of local car companies or even order the car for you. Regulations regarding driving licences will differ.
You should have Euro, US dollars, and similar in small quantities on you for the trips ashore. If you do not immediately have the opportunity of changing your money into the national currency then it is better to have bank notes of small denomination.
Should you go ashore outside office hours the only possibility to change money is at the larger hotels. So I recommend that you take enough local currency for the first shore leave. In most European countries you can get local currency with your European banking card but you need to get to the town’s cash machines. Ask your bank beforehand which credit cards are accepted.
Not every country permits the exchange of currency outside the official exchange offices. (And not all permit the importing of currency)
I’m frequently asked how much money a person should take on a voyage. This, of course, is a difficult question to answer because the passenger’s needs differ. It depends on whether you wish to take a taxi, the bus or even walk into town. Whether you want to visit a restaurant or are happy with a snack and then eating properly back on board the ship. Whether you wish to buy gifts or not.
It is difficult to estimate. My rule is: Take twice the amount that you would take with you on a sightseeing trip in a strange town in your own country.
On board you will only need pocket money for buying drinks in the canteen and possible phone calls from the ship.
The use of the on-board communicative devices is only possibly in exceptional cases. Costs have to be paid directly on board. It is ideal to take your own mobile phone although they don’t function in every country or near the coast. Please ask your mobile radio provider regarding the operability of your mobile phone in foreign countries.
Many passengers use cybercafés abroad.
Big hotels and post offices offer the possibility of making phone calls or sending facsimiles and e-mails.
Normally you cannot use the internet on board the ship.
Should relatives await your homecoming or want to pick you up from the ship then please organize this yourself, from on board, by phone. You will always have the latest information and the possibility of letting your friends and relatives know of any changes in plan.
We hope your relatives/friends will not repeat the following experience which we witnessed: People travelled from Bavaria in order to meet their passenger in Hamburg. But the passenger had already left the ship in Rotterdam...
Now I have explained much of what goes on aboard ship.
One of the biggest advantages is, of course, that you don’t have to work on board. Nobody will disturb you if you withdraw to the sundeck with a book or take a cooling bathe in the swimming pool on the big ships.
You very quickly become friendly with the crew, even if you feel somewhat lost during the first hours. Our experience, and many enthusiastic customer letters have shown this. We would appreciate it if you could give us a short report on your return from the voyage, as to how you liked it. Your report will be helpful when advising interested people and will benefit you when you book another passage on a cargo ship. Most people, having once sailed on a cargo ship, come back to seafaring again and again. We are, of course, always interested in reports and pictures of the voyages.
You will find more information in our General Conditions.
We wish you a host of positive impressions on your impending voyage.
KAPITÄN ZYLMANN GMBH
Captain Peter Zylmann
A small checking list for the passage:
- Check your passport with regard to period of validity
- Visa application if necessary
- Cash, credit cards and travellers cheques
- Health insurance for voyage
- Foreign health insurance certificate necessary?
- Return signed papers to the Frachtschiff-Touristik or your travel office
- Procure personal medicines
- First-aid kit, remedy against seasickness
- Notification of changed address with regard to mail and newspaper
- Cancel your rolls/milk
- Pets and flowers to be taken care of
- Book hotel if necessary
- Sunglasses and spare glasses
- Personal toilet articles
- Hair dryer
- Sun protection
- Sewing kit and scissors
- Writing utensils and address book
- Shoe polish
- Shoes plus a pair of non-skid soles
- Bathing things, holiday reading material
- Binoculars, mobile phone (with recharger)
- Radio with a piece of antenna wire
- Photo-/video films , batteries
- Light headgear for tropical areas
- Wind cheater
- Alarm clock, small pocket torch
- Drinks for the first day
- Underwear, socks
- Short before departure: buy tickets and book hotel
- Give addresses and phone numbers where you can be reached the last days before departure to Frachtschiff-Tourisitik Kapitän Zylmann GmbH