Here’s why tourists are taking cruises on cargo ships

October 30, 2015, 3:40 PM UTC
A container ship being unloaded is visib
A container ship being unloaded is visible during the launch voyage of the Aquarium of the Pacific?s new "Urban Ocean" cruise, May 27, 2010 in San Pedro Bay off the coast of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California. The cruise gives passengers the chance to see the intensive and varied human uses of one of the most urbanized coastlines in the world while highlighting how marine wildlife manages to exist and occasionally even to thrive in this heavily urbanized marine - industrial complex. This portion of the Pacific Ocean?s coast, centered around the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, is utilized for such diverse purposes as shipping, recreation, tourism, fishing and offshore oil drilling while also serving as home to a wastewater disposal facility, a federal prison, and even a sea-based spacecraft launch service, all of which can be seen during the two-hour cruise. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Robyn Beck— AFP/Getty Images

For about $115 per day, curious travelers can hop a ride on a working ocean freighter—but only if they book the trip months in advance.

With slowing global trade, shipping a passenger between Europe and Asia is around ten times more lucrative for freight companies than shipping their usual fare of containers, according to Bloomberg. And customers are leaping at the opportunity, creating long waitlists for the chance to travel alongside shipping containers.

The ocean freighter travel experience is a far cry from the floating luxury of ocean cruises: each freighter takes a maximum of a dozen paying passengers, who dine and pass the time with the ship’s crew. There is limited internet access and only moderate stores of alcohol, and passengers are expected to do their own laundry.

But for those who want to travel by sea without the luxury and crowds of a cruise, the ascetic nature of a working container ship seems to be a welcome alternative.