Mail and Supply Ships: Typical of this type of ship is the RMS ST. HELENA that sails from the U.K. to South Africa, the Ascension, Canary and St. Helena Islands. These ships carry mail, supplies and cargo to out-of-the-way locations

General-cargo ships: Prior to the days of containerization, all cargo was carried on what is know as general cargo ships. The cargo was known as break-bulk cargo. With the advent of containerization there are fewer general cargo ships. Generally, they carry cargo that is too large to be carried in a container, for example, steel, rolls of wire and machinery. However, they also carry boxed goods that are too small to justify use of a full container. They are much slower to load/unload and thus have longer port times. Here is an example in a example in another photo from Maik Ebel. A variation of the general cargo ship is the banana boat, a ship who's sole purpose is to carry bananas.

Containerships: If you take a freighter voyage the chances are that it will be on a containership, also known as "box" ships. The "boxes" they carry are containers that generally are found in twenty and forty foot lengths. They can be filled with just about any type of cargo, from televisions sets to fruit or meat. The containers that carry frozen or chilled food are know as "refers", or refrigerated containers. The capacity of a containership is measured in T.E.U (technical equivalent units). Thus, a freighter that can carry 1,600 T.E.E.'s is a bit small by the standards of some of the giant container ships that ply the seas of the world today. Here is a an aerial view of a containership capable of carrying 1600 T.E.U.'s. This is a sister ship of the vessel I sailed on from Los Angeles, CA., to Australia (boomerang route). The Regina M is one of the largest containerships in the world, capable of carrying about 6600 T.E.U.'s.

Expeditions Ships: carry between 52 and 117 passengers on voyages to the Antarctic, South Georgia and the Falklands, Patagonia, Islands of the South Atlantic, the Amazon, Iceland, Greenland, the Northwest Passage, Hudson Bay, plus Lost Islands of the South Pacific, Polynesia, Melanesia and the Russian Far East are available via the The Cruise People, Ltd., Maris Freighter Cruises and TravlTips, as well as traditional freighter voyages.

Bulk carriers: Bulk carriers are used to carry coal, grain, phosphates and other "loose" cargo. They come in various sizes and configurations, depending on the nature of the cargo and the area served. Some of these vessels are too large for the Panama Canal (the same can be true of containerships). These are known as post Panmax ships. This means that they are more than 32.2 meters in the beam. They are almost always employed in tramp service. That is, they often work on a contract basis rather than carrying cargo on a regular, established route. Thus the name, they are truly tramps, going where the cargo needs to be taken. A special type of bulk carrier is found on the Great Lakes between the U.S. and Canada and adjoining water ways. Here is an example. If you would like to learn more about Great Lake Freighters, check out this site.

Coasters are small cargo ships, often containerships, that run on feeder routes. That is, they carry a relatively small number of containers from small ports to major ports. They are called coasters because they travel along the coast, making many stops in a short period of time. A coaster looks something like this, but are often much smaller. Many thanks thanks to Mail Ebel for this photo

Ro-Ro: This strange looking ship is used to carry motor vehicles, which are loaded via a stern ramp. They can be quickly loaded and unloaded with a large numbers of vehicles. Capacity of the pictured vessel is unknown. (Maik Ebel photo)

A Reefer: is designed to carry frozen cargo.  Most containerships carry frozen cargo, but in containers which are "plugged into" the ships electrical system. (MaikEbele photo)

Tanker: Passengers do not travel on tankers (Maik Ebel photo). Apart of the risk inherent in such vessels, I am told by crew members who have sailed on them, that the smell of oil is ever constant.

Scrapper: For the sake of completeness I have include a picture of a ship that has seen better days. She was tied up in the Port of Kaohsiung. No, you will never travel on a ship like this; if you do, you will know why your agent had such a special price (just kidding).