Voyage Charter : Definition & Full Guide

Voyage Charter

Table of Contents

What is a voyage charter?

Voyage charter definition : The voyage charter is a contract (voyage charter party) between the shipowner and the charterer wherein the shipowner agrees to transport a given quantity of a shipment, using a pre-nominated vessel for a single voyage from a nominated port (say X) to a nominated port (say Y), within a given time period.

Who is a voyage charterer? What is the freight & voyage charter party? 

The person who charters the vessel is called the voyage charterer, the payment is called freight & the contract is called the voyage charter party. The freight rate is calculated as $/tonne of shipment. 

What is the most significant part of a voyage charter party?

The most significant parts are the description of the voyage, size & capacity of the vessel, cargo, the allocation of duties and costs in connection with loading and discharging, the specification of the freight, and the payment of the freight, the laytime rules, the allocation of the liability for the cargo and the allocation of other costs and risks.

Depending on the circumstances, other questions and clauses can be very important in the negotiations between the owners and the charterers.

In this type of charter, the vessel must be in the position that the owner specified when the charter was concluded & the vessel must, without undue delay, be directed to the port of loading.

At the port of loading, the charterer must deliver the agreed cargo. 

The cargo must not be dangerous cargo unless otherwise agreed. The cargo must be brought alongside the ship at the loading port & must be collected from the ship side at the port of discharge.

Mainly with the bulk cargoes, the charterer often undertakes to pay to load and discharge & often clauses of f.i.o or f.o.b are met. Very often parties agree on f.i.o.s or f.i.o.s.t terms.

In voyage charter, the discharge port need not be nominated in the charter party & in such cases, the charterer must have the right later to direct the vessel within a certain range to a specific port of discharge.

In a voyage charter where the charterer carries out loading &(or) discharging, it is generally agreed that the charterer will have a certain period of time at his disposal for loading & discharging of the vessel & it is called laytime.

If the charterer fails to load and(or) discharge the cargo from the vessel within the laytime, then he has to pay compensation for the extra time used called demurrage. Once in demurrage always in demurrage.

In other cases, if the charterer loads &(or) discharges the cargo from the vessel more quickly than the agreed laytime time, then he is entitled to claim compensation (only if agreed earlier) called despatch money.

In voyage charter, unless lumpsum freight is paid, the owner may claim freight compensation if less cargo is delivered, or cargo is delivered in such a way that ship’s capacity cannot be utilized due to broken stowage. This freight compensation is called deadfreight.

Voyage charter party agreement example:

Click here to see the example of a voyage charter party (NORGRAIN 73).

What are the factors which influence the freight rate in a voyage charter market?

In the voyage charter market, rates are influenced by cargo the charterer must deliver the agreed cargo size, commodity, port dues, and canal transit fees, as well as delivery and redelivery regions.

In general, a larger cargo size is quoted at a lower rate per tonne than a smaller cargo size. Routes with costly ports or canals generally command higher rates than routes with low port dues and no canals to transit.

Voyages with a load port within a region that includes ports where vessels usually discharge cargo or a discharge port within a region with ports where vessels load cargo also are generally quoted at lower rates because such voyages generally increase vessel utilization by reducing the unloaded portion (or ballast leg) that is included in the calculation of the return charter to a loading area.

What are the costs paid by the shipowner & charterer in a voyage charter?

In a voyage charter, the shipowner retains the operational control of the vessel and pays all the operating costs (crew, fuel, freshwater, lubes, port charges, extra insurances, taxes, etc.), with the possible exclusion of the loading/unloading expenses. 

The charterer’s costs are usually costs & charges relating to the cargo.

What are the types of voyage charter?

It can be of the following types:

  1. Immediate  –  which is carried out within weeks of the contract agreement and the agreed freight rate is called the spot rate.
  2. Forward –  which is scheduled & fulfilled at the agreed time in the future, for example in say three months.
  3. Consecutive – which refers to several same consecutive voyages.

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