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Some recent experiences with members booking freighter voyages make it apparent that no matter how repetitive the warnings seem to us, it is necessary to continue emphasizing that schedules are subject to change.

Hopefully, this makes the suggestion of buying an unrestricted airline ticket easier to accept. While it is tempting to purchase a reduced fare air ticket for travel to your port of embarkation, if there is a restriction on the ticket, the savings in air fare will likely be nullified--or even surpassed--by fees and penalties imposed when the date needs to be changed. Trying to avoid a last-minute change when a sailing is advanced (change is not restricted do delays) can be even more costly if an embarkation is missed. The cost of a hotel for one night is far less than the expense involved in catching up with a ship that has sailed. It is always advisable to be in the embarkation port city the day before the last "scheduled" sailing date.

Once the inevitability of change is accepted, communication becomes the key concern for the freighter passenger. And there the passenger has to take some responsibility. The booking agents involved make every effort to keep passengers advised of schedule changes, but never assume that no news means nothing is new. Mail delays, phone or fax breakdowns or other problems in the communication network could inhibit word of the latest sailing date from reaching the passenger. Stay in touch with your agent; make that last call to see if there has been a late change. You may just hear a relieved greeting: "I've been trying to reach you".

Once in the embarkation city, passengers should take the initiative and call the line's agent to confirm their arrival, their location and the embarkation details. If the contact given is a local agent in the port city, bear in mind that this individual or business is a cargo agent with no responsibility for passengers beyond the information necessary for embarkation. Questions pertaining to the ship, itinerary or any other trip matter should be directed to your booking agent or the designated personnel once you board the vessel.

Many vessels are under charter for their cargo operation, often resulting in sudden and unexpected schedule changes. But even freighters operating on their owner's route will have changes in schedule. The passengers who accepts this will have a smoother ride.

Ed Kirk, Editor.

This "Note From the Editor" appeared in the March/April issue of Travltips Magazine
and is reprinted with permission.
Copyright Travltips, 1999, LLC - All rights reserved.