Q: I would like to travel on a commercial vessel with private accommodations on an around-the-world trip. Can you help?
A: There are four major freighter lines that cater to around-the-world passengers and two companies in the United States act as their agents.
Freighter World Cruises represents three of them: Bank Line, a ++ British concern, and two German lines, Deutsche Seereederei Rostock (known as D.S.R.) and Niederelbe Schiffahrtsgesellschaft Buxtehube (N.S.B.).
Maris USA represents the other one, ABC Containerline, a Belgian company.
Of the four, Bank Line probably fits most people's pictures of freighter travel. Its four ships use their own cranes to offload cargo in smaller ports, a traditional activity that is interesting to watch. This is in contrast to ships of the other lines, and indeed most other freighters today, which by and large carry their cargoes in containers.
Each ship carries nine passengers, who may board in either Hull, England, or Antwerp, Belgium, for the 110-day to 115-day cruise, which, after calls in northern Europe, transits the Panama Canal and sails through the South Pacific to Southeast and East Asia. The ships then transit the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean and return to Rotterdam, where passengers disembark.
Discounted fares for the 10 sailings a year are in effect from April to August. The owner's cabin at these times is $11,839 a person and a double or single cabin is $10,351 a person. Fares for the rest of the year are $13,875 a person for the owner's cabin and $12,125 a person for a double or single cabin.
The six ships of D.S.R. will make 14 more sailings this year from Long Beach, Calif., to the Far East, northern Europe, New York, through the Panama Canal back to Long Beach. The trip takes 84 days and each ship can take four passengers.
Fares are $8,750 a person in double occupancy, $9,825 for a single.
N.S.B.'s Contship Barcelona, takes a maximum of 10 passengers. It leaves Savannah, Ga., transits the Panama Canal and then travels through the South Pacific to Australia and New Zealand, Southeast Asia, northern Europe, New York and back to Savannah.
The trip takes 99 days and costs from $8,910 to $11,187 a person in double occupancy, $11,583 to $13,583 for a single. Approximate sailing dates from Savannah this year are Aug. 9 and Nov. 16.
More information: Freighter World Cruises, 180 S. Lake Ave., Suite 335, Pasadena, Calif. 91101; (818) 449-3106, fax (818) 449-9573.
Four ships of ABC Containerline make the global trip in 98 days and can be boarded at Philadelphia, Charleston, S.C., or Gulfport, Miss. Sailings are every two to three weeks. The ships visit New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, Israel and northern Europe and then go back to the East Coast. Fares are from $8,960 to $11,350 a person.
More information: Maris USA, 215 Main St., Westport, Conn. 06880; (800) 996-2747, fax (203) 222-9191.
Q: Is it possible to buy Moroccan goods -- textiles, pottery, rugs and tiles -- in Spain? Where is the best selection? Are prices comparable to those in Morocco?
A: Moroccan goods, at prices usually slightly higher than those in Morocco, can be found in any major Spanish city. The widest variety can be found in the two Spanish enclaves in Morocco, Ceuta and Melilla, where prices are similar to those in Morocco itself. Both places can easily be reached by ferry from Algeciras, Malaga and Almeria.
On the mainland, Granada is probably the best choice for bargains, since this year the city's Arab heritage is being celebrated.
The Tourist Information Office there suggests visitors should look in Calle Oficios, just behind the cathedral. The area has plenty of small stores selling Moroccan goods as well as arts and crafts typical of Granada.
More information: Granada Tourist Information Center, Calle de Mariana de Pineda s/n Corral del Carbon, 28009 Granada; (34 58) 22 59 90, fax (34 58) 22 39 27.
Cordoba is also a center for Moroccan goods. Most of the streets around the city's old mosque, one of the finest examples of Arabic architecture outside the Middle East and North Africa, are full of small stores selling such items.