There are several types of vessels which can be used for international shipping. Different types of ships are used for the various types of cargo that are transported. The design of each particular ship is a result of the specific needs of both people and businesses.
- Container ships – These ships only transport cargo that is packed into standard 20′ or 40′ containers. The containers are then stacked on the ship, one on top of another just like Lego’s. This is the main type of vessel used foe the international shipping of personal belongings. This form of shipping has significant security benefits since no one can see inside the closed container and it can be lock and sealed.
- General cargo ships – These ships transport various types of loose and even packaged goods. The numerous tons of fruits and vegetables are exported worldwide each year are transported on cargo ships. All major ports are well equipped to handle all types of cargo vessels.
- Roll-on/roll-off ships – Vessels that ship passenger cars, trucks, and tractors. The name roll-on/roll-off describes exactly the way the vehicles board the ship. Usually through a ramp that leads directly into the belly of the ship. Almost all international car shipping is done using roll-on/roll-off vessels.
- Bulk carriers – Bulks carriers are engineered for the shipping of large volumes of unpacked commodities. Business ventures in need of shipping commodities such as coal, rice, grains, and chemicals in bulk, will likely end up using a bulk carrier.
- Tankers – Tankers are for shipping liquids. For example oil tankers are used for shipping huge amounts of oil internationally.
All these ships do their business in basically two ways:
- Liner vessels – There are numerous shipping companies with liner vessels that travel along permanent routes. Their schedules are usually set like clockwork and, therefore, shipping costs are fairly predictable.
- Charter vessels – Charter vessels function according to the whims of the people or businesses that employ them. Their routes, point of departure, time schedules and costs are a function of market conditions. A good example of a charter vessel is an oil tanker. As a matter of fact, an oil tanker does not necessarily know what his final destination will be. Even while in transport the oil tanker can still be redirected to the highest bidder. The same is also true for other commodities.