By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: I've heard that you can travel by cargo ship. Can you really do this?

A: Yes, some travellers prefer to cruise by cargo.

True, you won't get the same extent of entertainment and food extravaganza that often go hand in hand with today's cruising. Sure, the ship may not be equipped with fancy elevators, chic bedrooms and casinos.

But, cargo ships have their positives. The price for starters. They are generally cheaper than the average cruise fare. Cargo ships also tend to be more intimate. You don't have thousands of fellow passengers all wanting to vacation with you.

One company I came across is the Connecticut-based Maris Freighter Cruises. Its promotional material provides a dreamy sequence inviting any passenger.

"Experience a memorable voyage reminiscent of the days when ocean travel was in its prime." With this in mind, the vessel, Aranui III, is planning a voyage from Tahiti to the Marquesas on A 16-day voyage through the South Pacific archipelagos.

With passenger comfort in mind, the cargo liner is equipped with sweeping decks, an outdoor swimming pool, gym and facilities for ocean swimming, fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving. Prices run the gamut.

The exclusive suites are an average $4,950 per person, double. But it comes with a Queen sized bed, refrigerator, private facilities with bathtub, and a balcony. The lower end of the scale is the dormitory with upper and lower bunks and shared bathrooms. Price is $1,980 per person, double. Sharing a cabin with a pullman can reduce the fare.

Not a bad way to see the isles that lured Robert Louis Stevenson, Herman Melville and Paul Gauguin.

For schedule info and other itineraries, contact Maris at toll-free 1.800.99.MARIS or write to Maris, 215 Main St., Westport, CT 06880


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