A bit later than I thought, we’ve finally booked and paid for the cargo ship journey across the Pacific Ocean – eee!

Before our trip began we trawled the internet to find out how on earth we book a cargo ship journey. We came across Hamish at Freighter Travel who gave us lots of useful information. At the time, the current quickest route from Asia to North America was from Ningbo (just south of Shanghai) to either Vancouver or Seattle, depending on weather, busy ports, etc. This was the frustrating part, if we could sail into Canada then we wouldn’t need a formal visa to enter the country. Unfortunately the USA has different rules, hence our effort to get a B1/B2 tourist visa in Hanoi.  This ship would take 11 days at a cost of €100 a day each. The main advice was to contact nearer the time we wanted to sail to check current routes and dates. We did so in Kunming and it was on the train to Kunming that we had good and bad news.

Good news – a better route had become available. Our plan after arriving in north west America was to head south to LA on the Amtrak Coast Starlight, then inland by more Amtrak trains through the desert towards New Orleans. The new quickest route was now Xiamen (just north of Hong Kong and west of Taiwan) to LA, parfait. 

Bad news – around the world cargo ships have slowed down to conserve fuel. This is actually good news for the planet so we can’t complain, considering how polluting ships can be. The Ningbo route had increased to 18 days across the Pacific, the route from Xiamen took 15 days. Along with this slow down was an increase in price to €110 pppd. 

With passports finally retrieved from the US Embassy in Hanoi on Monday (after lengthy and expensive phone calls discovering the Vietnam Post had failed to deliver on the Friday and simply sent back to the embassy) we emailed Hamish and he booked the ship on Wednesday, yesterday. Many, many forms followed to sign. Including a medical certificate that we need to find a doctor to sign confirming we are fit to travel by ship, we’re currently attempting this in Hong Kong having arrived today…

So, on December 2nd we sail from Xiamen to Los Angeles in 15 days across the Pacific Ocean for €1700 each including all insurance, port fees, etc. This is €500 more than we budgeted, but we quickly decided it was worth it for us. It means less in savings to come home to, but our future self’s will be very grateful we forked out to complete our journey round the world without flying. We get to join the ranks of Phileas Fogg and Michael Palin, a fellow Sheffielder.

And this is just journey one of two! With boats sailing to mainland Europe from Philadelphia taking around 13 days, sometime in February or March we hope to catch one home 🙂

PS: While planning our trip there was already a couple, friends of a friend, attempting to get to New Zealand without flying. This included a cargo ship from Hong Kong to Brisbane and they’ve recently written in more detail about how to book a journey here (thanks for the shout out guys!)

8 thoughts on ““We have a booking”

    1. Yea pretty scary! It turns out Xiamen used to have a similar open to foreigner status as Shanghai and Hong Kong so it should be an interesting place to visit anyway – it has a small touristy car free island to keep us occupied before the boat leaves!

    1. Well the companies rake in so much money and they don’t always want the hassle of passengers so this cost is pittance to them really. Haha yea it should be fine across the Pacific, it’s the Atlantic over winter which is prone to depressions…

    1. Thanks but already tried the Kowloon one yesterday straight off the train, they weren’t willing to sign it but suggested going to a general clinic. We tried three different places and all no, a fourth simply said come back tomorrow it’ll cost HK$250/£25 each so we’ll try that if our doctors in the UK aren’t willing to sign it, waiting on emails…

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