Vessel Chartering

Vessel Chartering

Vessel chartering involves leasing a ship from its owner to transport goods across waterways, a process often perceived as straightforward yet involving intricate arrangements and coordination.


  • Definition: Vessel chartering is renting a ship for transporting goods across the seas. It involves leasing either part of a ship’s capacity or the entire vessel.
  • How It Works: The charterer negotiates terms for cargo space or ship usage, managing the logistical aspects of maritime transport. This can involve various types of charters depending on the cargo’s nature and the required route.
  • Key Benefits: Chartering provides flexibility in shipping schedules and routes, which is essential for large-scale logistics, specialised cargo, or when standard routes do not meet specific needs. This method is particularly beneficial for handling large volumes or oversized items that require specialised transport conditions.

Types of Vessel Chartering

There are two primary types of vessel chartering services that cater to different cargo volumes and control over shipping routes:

Full Charter

Opting for a full charter means renting an entire vessel to transport your cargo. This option allows you to dictate the vessel’s route and schedule, providing complete control over when and how your freight reaches its destination. A full charter is particularly cost-effective when transporting large amounts of cargo, as the entire vessel is dedicated to your shipment.

Part Charter

A part charter offers a more economical solution by allowing you to hire only the necessary space on a vessel. This method involves sharing the ship with cargo from other shippers, which means you won’t have control over the vessel’s route or the schedule. Part charters are ideal for smaller shipments that do not require an entire ship and when flexibility in delivery timing is permissible.

Types of Cargo Vessels for Chartering

Selecting the right type of cargo ship for chartering depends on the nature of the cargo and the specific port conditions. Here are some of the common types of vessels available for charter:

Bulk Vessels

Also known as bulk carriers, these are specialised for transporting unpackaged dry bulk commodities such as grains, coal, minerals, and other similar materials. Bulk vessels are designed to handle large quantities of loose cargo efficiently.

Geared Vessels

These ships are equipped with their own cranes and loading equipment, making them ideal for transporting large equipment. Geared vessels are also used in ports lacking the necessary crane infrastructure, facilitating easier loading and unloading of heavy cargo.

Flat-deck Barges

Characterised by their open, flat decks, these barges are versatile for carrying a wide range of freight types. From containerised cargo to loose bulk items, flat-deck barges provide a straightforward solution for loading and transporting goods across water.

Types of Cargo Suitable for Vessel Chartering

Chartered vessels are particularly effective for transporting specific types of cargo where conventional shipping methods may not be feasible. These are some categories of freight that are commonly shipped via vessel chartering:

Breakbulk Cargo

Items that are too large or heavy to fit into standard shipping containers, such as wind turbine components, large industrial equipment, and oversized vehicles, are well-suited for chartered vessels. Breakbulk shipping offer ample space and the flexibility needed to accommodate such large items.

Heavy Lift Cargo

This includes oversized items or heavy equipment that require specialised cranes for loading and unloading. Chartering geared vessels, equipped with necessary lifting gear, is ideal when the loading or unloading ports lack the required infrastructure.

Large Volume Shipments

For transporting large quantities of goods that might not necessarily be oversized, chartering a whole vessel can be more cost-effective. This is especially true for bulk shipments like agricultural products or mineral ores, where the volume justifies the exclusive use of a ship, ensuring economies of scale.

Understanding the Costs of Vessel Chartering

The cost of chartering a vessel varies widely and depends on several key factors. Unlike fixed-rate shipping methods, vessel chartering involves a range of variable costs:

  1. Cargo Size and Weight 

Charges are often calculated based on either the volumetric weight or the actual weight of the cargo, depending on which is greater. This ensures that the space and weight capacity of the vessel are optimally utilised.

  1. Point of Origin and Destination 

The costs can vary significantly based on the ports of origin and destination. If these ports levy additional fees for handling certain types of cargo or vessels, or if they are located far from your warehouse or production facility, this can substantially affect the overall cost. Additionally, some ports might offer more competitive pricing due to their infrastructure, volume of business, or geographical location.

  1. Distance and Route of Shipping 

The length and complexity of the route also play a critical role in determining the cost. Longer distances generally involve higher fuel and labour costs, and routes that pass through restricted areas like canals may incur additional fees.

  1. Additional Logistics Services

Costs are not limited to just the chartering of the vessel. They also encompass pre-carriage and on-carriage arrangements—transporting the freight to and from the port. These costs will vary based on the distance from the origin and destination ports to the final loading and unloading points.

How to Charter a Vessel For Your Business

Chartering a vessel for your freight needs is a complex process that requires meticulous planning and coordination. It involves managing numerous aspects including ocean transport, port loading and unloading, labour contracting, and the arrangement of terminal services such as handling, storage, and stevedoring. 

Additionally, coordinating ground transport both to the departure port and from the destination port is crucial. Given the scope of logistics involved, potential challenges such as weather delays, labour disputes, and freight damage can arise, requiring adept management and problem-solving skills.

However, you don’t have to navigate these complexities on your own. Partnering with an experienced freight forwarder like M&P International Freights simplifies the process. We specialise in vessel chartering services, taking responsibility for the entire coordination, from booking the vessel to managing all ground transportation and logistical tasks. Working with us ensures you have a single point of contact who oversees all aspects of your shipment, reducing the burden of communication and the risk of unexpected fees or delays.

For businesses looking to streamline their large-scale shipping operations without the operational overhead, reaching out to M&P International Freights for a tailored vessel chartering solution is a strategic move. Contact us today to discuss your specific needs and obtain a comprehensive quote.

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