Cargo consists of products, items, packages or produce which is transported by the vessel. When considering a vessels design, cargo carrying capacity is a primary concern - often noted as the money-making portion of a ships capability (or displacement).
- Bulk cargo - Grain, ore pellets, etc. - Solid cargo without packaging, carried by bulkers and barges. See also dry bulk.
- Break-bulk cargo - Pallets, drums, etc. - Cargo packaged/ready for transport, but not containerized, carried by general cargo ships.
- Automotive - In modern times, vehicular cargo is carried by dedicated car carriers.
- Livestock - Live animals are often carried by dedicated livestock carriers.
- Containerized - Standardized containers are used. Dedicated handling systems allow for fast throughput, and rectilinear design favours stacking. Container ships are fast vessels for container transport.
- Compressed gas, as carried by LNG carriers
- Fluids - Predominately, oil, as carried by tankers
- Passengers - Human traffic, typically carried by ferries and cruise ships.