The Ultimate Guide to RoRo Shipping for Businesses in 2024: Navigate the Seas with Confidence

In today’s dynamic global trade landscape, businesses are constantly seeking efficient and cost-effective ways to move their cargo across oceans. RoRo (Roll-on/Roll-off) shipping emerges as a powerful contender, offering unique advantages for specific cargo types and routes.

Whether you’re a seasoned freight forwarder or exploring new shipping options, this comprehensive guide equips you with everything you need to know about RoRo shipping in 2024.

yellow tractor pulls into a RoRo ship

What is RoRo?

RoRo shipping stands out for its method of loading and unloading cargo – vehicles drive on and off the ship on their own wheels, eliminating the need for cranes and containers. This method is not only faster but often more cost-effective, especially for heavy machinery and vehicles. It’s suitable for a wide range of cargo, including cars, trucks, trailers, construction equipment, and recreational vehicles, offering advantages like cost efficiency, speed, versatility, and simplicity in logistics.

Key Advantages of RoRo Shipping:

  • Cost-effectiveness: For oversized cargo or large fleets of vehicles, RoRo can be significantly cheaper than container shipping. You only pay for the space your cargo occupies, not a standardised container size.
  • Efficiency: Faster loading and unloading times compared to container ships, minimizing port delays and optimizing delivery timelines.
  • Flexibility: Accommodates various cargo types beyond just vehicles, including construction equipment, agricultural machinery, and even entire houses!
  • Direct Delivery: Avoid container stuffing and de-stuffing, reducing handling costs and potential damage.

Limitations to Consider:

  • Route availability: RoRo services are not as extensive as container shipping, with specific routes and schedules.
  • Transit times: While faster loading/unloading, overall voyage times can be longer than container ships due to port limitations and specialised routes.
  • Cargo restrictions: Height and weight limitations apply, and certain hazardous materials might not be accepted.
  • Cargo type limitation: However, its primary limitation lies in the necessity for cargo to be wheeled or towable, which may not suit all types of freight. This means that RoRo shipping may not be applicable for cargo that cannot be driven or towed onto the ship, restricting its use for certain goods and equipment that require alternative loading methods, such as cranes or containers.

Is RoRo or Container Cheaper?

Generally, RoRo is considered more cost-effective for transporting vehicles and heavy equipment due to lower handling and loading costs. However, the total cost can vary based on on several factors:

  • Cargo type and size: RoRo excels for oversized cargo or large vehicle fleets.
  • Route and distance: Analyse specific route costs and transit times for both options.
  • Volume requirements: Container shipping might be more cost-effective for smaller cargo volumes.

Booking a RoRo Vessel

Booking a RoRo vessel involves selecting a reputable freight forwarder or shipping company that offers RoRo services. This process typically includes providing details about the cargo, desired shipping dates, and destination ports. Many companies, such as AES Inc, TSL Australia, and Genfreight Global Logistics, offer online quotes and booking capabilities, streamlining the process for businesses. 

What is the difference between a car carrier and a RoRo ship?

The distinction between a car carrier and a RoRo ship lies in their design and functionality. While both transport vehicles, a car carrier is specifically designed for carrying passenger vehicles efficiently, often featuring multiple decks. In contrast, RoRo ships can accommodate a broader range of cargo, including heavy machinery and oversized items, thanks to their open decks and ramps.

Navigating the RoRo Landscape:

Types of RoRo Ships:

  • Pure Car Carriers (PCCs): Designed primarily for vehicles, offering multiple decks and efficient loading/unloading.
  • Multipurpose RoRo (MPRoRo): Accommodate both vehicles and containerized cargo, providing greater flexibility.
  • Trailer Ships: Specialised for carrying truck trailers, offering efficient on-road and maritime transport.

Key RoRo Routes:

  • Transatlantic: Linking North America and Europe, crucial for car exports and machinery shipment.
  • Transpacific: Connecting Asia and the Americas, a booming market for car exports and heavy equipment.
  • Intra-regional: Short-sea routes within regions like Europe, Asia, and Australia, ideal for fast and efficient vehicle movement.

Key RoRo Carriers Serving Australia:

Machinery pulls into the RoRo ship

Navigating the world of RoRo carriers can feel like charting a new course. When it comes to Australia, several key players consistently provide reliable and efficient services:

Höegh Autoliners: A global leader in RoRo shipping, offering regular services between Australia and Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

Wallenius Wilhelmsen: Renowned for their large fleet of Pure Car Carriers (PCCs), catering specifically to vehicle shipments on major Australian routes.

Grimaldi Group: Operating both RoRo and container ships, they offer comprehensive coverage across Asia-Pacific routes, ideal for diverse cargo needs.

EUKOR Car Carriers: Specialising in RoRo and short-sea services, they cater to intra-regional movement within Australia and neighboring countries.

ANL: As Australia’s national container shipping line, they also offer dedicated RoRo services on select routes, particularly within Asia.

ACL/Grimaldi: This joint venture provides dedicated RoRo services between Asia and Australasia, including Australia.

K-Line: Renowned for their expertise in car carrier shipments, offering services between Australia, Asia, and the Americas.

MOL: A global shipping giant with dedicated RoRo capabilities, servicing select routes to and from Australia.

NYK: This leading Japanese shipping line offers RoRo services on certain routes connecting Australia with Asia and other regions.

Sallaum Lines: Primarily catering to the Middle East and Red Sea region, they offer specialised RoRo services for specific Australian requirements.

With such a diverse range of RoRo carriers serving Australia, choosing the right one can feel overwhelming. At Genfreight, we understand the intricacies involved, and that’s why we take a partnership approach. We maintain strong relationships with all the major RoRo carriers. This extensive network grants us unparalleled access to real-time information on schedules, rates, and vessel capacities, ensuring we can navigate the ever-changing landscape with agility.

Optimising Your RoRo Shipment:

  • Plan ahead: Book well in advance due to limited vessel availability and specific route schedules.
  • Precise measurements: Ensure your cargo dimensions and weight comply with vessel specifications.
  • Documentation diligence: Prepare accurate and complete paperwork to avoid delays at customs.
  • Partner with a reliable RoRo provider: Choose an experienced freight forwarder like Genfreight with expertise in navigating RoRo complexities and securing optimal routes and rates.

Australian RoRo Landscape: A Booming Opportunity



With a robust automotive industry and growing demand for oversized cargo movement, Australia presents a vibrant market for RoRo shipping. Recent statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal a 15% increase in RoRo cargo tonnage in the past year, highlighting its growing significance.

Genfreight: Your Trusted RoRo Partner

At Genfreight, we understand the intricacies of RoRo shipping and its unique advantages for businesses. Our team of experienced professionals leverages global partnerships and expertise to:


  • Analyse your specific needs and recommend the most cost-effective RoRo solution.
  • Negotiate competitive rates and secure optimal vessel space.
  • Handle all documentation and customs clearance seamlessly.
  • Provide real-time tracking and communication throughout your shipment journey.

Ready to explore the possibilities of RoRo shipping?

 Contact GenFreight today for a free consultation and unlock a world of efficient and cost-effective cargo movement across the seas.

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