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ocean freight shipping

One of the most common modes of transport is ocean freight. Exporters and importers use this. The other freight transport modes are more expensive but they are faster. A full 90% of everything is shipped by sea freight and ocean freight. In this freight shipping, goods are packed in shipping containers. The itinerary may be done from door-to-port, port-to-port, and port-to-door or door-to-door, and can include truck pick up and or delivery. Air freight is too expensive, but ocean freight is too slow. 90% of everything we buy arrives via container ships. There are currently over 20 million shipping containers in the world.

ocean freight shipping

People choose sea freight over other shipping methods. Because ocean freight is cheaper. A CO2 freight emission from ocean freight is minuscule compared with air freight. International law plays it part in defining and restricting what goods are considered dangerous for transport.

Calculating the ocean freight rate is difficult for many people. There are too many variables. Most of them keep changing several times per year. There are 4 major that influence ocean freight rates:

  • One of the key factors in calculating ocean freight rates is seasonal demand for commodities. Certain commodities become more expensive to ship during their peak seasons.
  • One of the most crucial factors to calculate freight costs for any type of transportation mode is fuel. Oil prices are constantly changing. Carriers are heavily affected by these fluctuations.
  • Ocean freight itself is a commodity. Capacity is the most important element influencing our numbers. When demand is higher than supply, the value of the commodity rises.
  • Currency exchange rates have a significant impact on ocean freight rates. Shipping is a global industry, but not every country uses the same currency. Daily movement of other money markets changes the standpoint of freight rates against the U.S. Dollar.

Cargo insurance

Cargo insurance is essential to ocean freight transportation and protects your goods from storms, seawater flooding, and acts of God, vessel collision, and other unforeseeable events.

ocean freight shipping

The different types of ship

  • General cargo ships carry the loose-packaged cargo of all types.
  • Container ships (or ‘box ships’) carry their cargo packed into standard 20′ or 40′ containers that are stacked both on and below deck. Smaller ‘feeder’ ships carry containers on coastal and inland waters.
  • Tankers carry liquids in bulk.
  • Roll-on/roll-off vessels carry both road haulage and passenger vehicles. For more information about road haulage, see our guide on moving goods by road.
  • Bulk carriers carry unpackaged goods – usually large volumes of single-commodity goods such as grain, coal, fertilizers and more.


There is 2 part of Ocean freight: a less than container load (LCL) and a full container load (FCL). There is an increased risk of misplacement, damage, and loss of LCL. LCL takes more time to deliver than an FCL shipment.


The Downsides of Ocean Freight

  • Ocean freight is more likely to get damaged or destroyed than air cargo. That’s because ships are more subject to movement, and because it is in transit a lot longer.
  • There has been more take up of tracking technology in air freight than ocean freight. Ocean freight is more likely to get misplaced than air freight. Ocean freight is slowly becoming more reliable, in order to compete with air freight.
  • Airplanes are about 30 times faster than ocean liners. Shipment going by air freight from China to the US usually takes at least 20 days more than by ocean freight.

ocean freight shipping

Merchant ships

These ships do business in 2 different ways. Charter vessels operate entirely according to the demands of the person chartering them. Most tankers and bulk carriers operate in the charter markets. Liner vessels operate on fixed routes, to fixed schedules and usually with a standard tariff.


Shipping Documentation

As experienced freight forwarders, Global Shipping makes this process as smooth as possible and provides you with bills of lading and the necessary documentation to facilitate your importing or exporting process.



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