Cargo Ship Travel Time From China To Us

Globalized Marketplaces

Due to the globalized marketplaces of the 21st century, the demand and need for shipments of goods have increased as consumer preferences and choices become more varied. This has resulted in a high demand for cargo ships to navigate the globe and carry goods across countries and continents. The transport of these goods between two continents, particularly from China to the United States, primarily relies on cargo vessels.

Container Ships for International Trade

Container ships, such as those operated by CMA CGM, are typically used for the transportation of cargo goods on global marine trade routes. From China, goods are shipped to the U.S. via the Pacific, carrying items like manufactured electronics and consumer goods, medical supplies and apparel. Container ships enable globalized commerce due to its wide cargo capacity and efficient travel time.

Time Taken for Shipping

The actual time taken for cargo shipments from China to the U.S. will vary due to various factors. Length of time spent at port and weather conditions are one of the main determining factors for how long the travel time will take. With good weather conditions, it can take approximately 20-30 days for a cargo ship from China to reach the United States. In comparison, for a similar journey from China to the EU, it can take anywhere from 14 to 21 days.

Cost of Shipping

In terms of cost, a standard 20 feet container from China can cost anywhere from $1300-1800USD. This does not include any additional fees associated with customs or handling. Additionally, an extra fee will be charged depending on the size of the container as different types of container ships allow for different sizes.

Environmental Impact

Due to the increasing demand for cargo ships, there has been a heightened awareness of the impact it can have on the environment. Air pollution resulting from cargo ships can cause global warming and smog. Hence, efforts are being made to improve the emissions of cargo vessels, with technological advancements and improved engine performance addressing the issue. Furthermore, the introduction of biofuel, powered containers and the reduction of fuel consumption are initiatives put in place to reduce the air pollution of container ships.

Container Maintenance

Good physical condition is necessary for container ships since they must meet the security standards for port admission. When a ship enters a port, it is inspected to ensure that it is running in safe condition, with the maintenance of containers, cargoes and machinery are up to date and seaworthy. The condition of the ship influences the time taken for the journey, so it is important that regular maintenance inspections of all the ships and their containers are conducted.

Logistics and Regulations

Managing the logistics and regulations of container ships is also crucial in determining the time it takes for freight and cargo ships to sail from China to the U.S. As both countries have different protocols for handling ships, different amount of time can be spent at port waiting for clearance and approval. Therefore, even if the weather condition is perfect, there can be delays due to a discrepancy between the regulations of two countries.


In terms of competitiveness, from 2018-2020, cargo ship companies from China have edged out their main competitors, including the U.S. market, in terms of key performance indicators (KPIs) such as miles per gallon, dwell time, and time until delivery. Chinese cargo ships were found to be 25% faster than competitive services. This is partially attributed to the fact that the Chinese fleet averages a speed of 10-12 knots, higher than other maritime carriers.

Impact of COVID-19

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has also had an impact on the number of cargo ships leaving from China for the US. Initially, shipments declined in March and April 2020 as economic and travel activity stuttered. However, as global economies began to recover from June 2020 onwards, there was a surge in cargo shipments and demand for container ships. This trend is expected to continue for the time being, despite the challenges of sourcing for qualified personnel, labour shortages and the costly implementation of safety measures due to the current pandemic.

E-Commerce Growth

The growth of e-commerce is affecting the shipping and delivery of goods, making it a necessity to keep up with the speed and quality of offerings. As such, one of the strategies used by cargo ship companies is to employ technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain to plan out their routes and provide better shipping options. By using these technologies, they can replicate the fastest paths and mitigate the risk of delays and uncertain business conditions.

Last Mile Delivery

The final leg of cargo ships from China to the US also known as the last mile delivery, requires the integration of technologies such as mobile apps, geolocation tracking, route optimization and autonomous delivery vehicles. This helps the efficient delivery of goods to retail outlets or directly to customers in order to expedite the process.

Prices of Oil

The fluctuation of oil prices is another major factor crucial for determining the cost of shipping goods. Reduced oil prices have resulted in a 50-60% decrease in the price of shipping containers from China in the US from 2017-2018. This could be advantageous for importers as they would be able to transport goods at a reduced cost. Alternately, when the price of oil increases, it can result in a rise in operational costs, including crew and vessel management.

Bernice Sorrells

Bernice A. Sorrells is a freelance journalist and travel writer from the United States. She has written extensively about China, covering topics such as culture, history, politics, and economics. Bernice has traveled extensively throughout China, visiting many of its provinces and cities.

Leave a Comment