- Sailing aboard a cargo ship has been a niche but popular form of “slow travel.”
- But the industry crashed as shipping firms took precautions against COVID-19.
Cruise lines are continuing to experience a steady post-COVID-19 recovery, with some companies reporting fully booked cruises and others boasting “off the charts” onboard spending, reports Business Insider.
But while months long cruises have performed well throughout 2021, one of the slowest forms of cruising has continued to struggle — sailing aboard a freighter vessel.
Sailing aboard a freighter vessel
Booking a room aboard a commercial freight vessel for a multi-week voyage may not be most people’s ideal way to travel, but for those like Hamish Jamieson, founder of New Zealand-based Freighter Travel, there’s nothing else quite like it.
“It’s got a unique smell of pitch, sea salt, food, and stale bodies. It gets in your blood,” he told Insider. “It’s a wee bit like going to your favorite cabin in the middle of autumn.”
Crossing oceans by freighter isn’t just Jamieson’s passion, it’s his business, too. Jamieson is one of a handful of travel agents around the world who specialize in booking passage aboard freighters, a specialty proving increasingly fraught as the business struggles.
Before the pandemic, cargo ships carried nearly 4,000 private passengers per year in officers’ cabins, offering a spartan but spacious alternative to conventional cruise liners. But that came to an abrupt end in January 2020 when early reports of the novel coronavirus started emerging.
“Shipping companies don’t want to take the risk that they get an infection onboard among the crew,” Arne Gudde, founder of Berlin-based Slowtravel, told Insider. “If that happens, the whole ship may have to be in quarantine.”
As the pandemic enters its third year and national health authorities continue to offer shifting guidance, it’s not entirely clear how this much-beloved niche mode of travel will recover. With bookings unlikely to return until 2023, the few experts who can navigate the international red tape are at risk of going out of business without alternative income streams.
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Source: Business Insider