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Following your heart every day and doing what you love, that sounds great, doesn't it? Wonderfully impossible? Not if you read the story of Joris, Valérie and Chris.

Joris organizes trips aboard cargo ships.


Joris Van Bree (50) started CptnZeppos, a travel agency that allows you to travel as a passenger aboard cargo ships, in 2019. Due to the corona crisis, trips are limited within Europe for now. Starting in 2023, you can go to faraway places again. In the meantime, the ideal round trip is from Antwerp to Finland. But you can also sail from Rotterdam to the Canary Islands, for example. All the result of Joris' fascination with sailing ships as a child.

Joris: "While my sister and I were in Nieuwpoort looking at the ships, my father used to say that we could pick one. That he would then buy the boat for us, provided we agreed. On vacation in the south of France, I snorkeled for hours on end. When I won a cruise on the Flandria with a Choco Askoeken savings campaign, I was really looking forward to it. But the day itself I was so sick I had to cancel. Founding CptnZeppos is perhaps the ultimate revenge for that missed cruise. (laughs)"

"After years as an order supervisor in the printing world, it was time for something different. I thought back to the moment in the port of Antwerp when a Filipino sailor aboard a cargo ship waved at me and wondered what life aboard such a ship would be like. After visiting the Red Star Line Museum, I decided to travel with a cargo ship from Antwerp to New York. In August 2018, I boarded The Atlantic Sun and spent the next 14 days at sea. My own cabin, three meals a day and nothing but silence, space and time. After six days between the sky and the sea, you feel humble and small. It felt like entering the last unknown world. I didn't want to disembark anymore. You travel slowly, can look far ahead.... In the middle of the Atlantic, I thought how nice it would be to let other people experience this too. Thus was born CptnZeppos."

"On board I had talked a lot with everyone; back in civilization it was different. In New York I really chatted with maybe five people. Whereas you would think the opposite would be the case. I stayed at The Jane Hotel from 1908 where travelers from The Titanic were taken care of at the time. Once home, I started exploring like crazy the possibilities of doing something around that type of travel. I belonged nowhere with my initiative, neither in the maritime world nor in the travel world. The VVR professional association classified me under luxury cruises. In 2018, I won the entrepreneurial competition the Bertjes as an innovative start-up company. In April 2019, Ward Hulselmans (professional journalist and scriptwriter of such success series as Heterdaad, Stille Waters, Witse and Salamander, ed.) stepped aboard as the first passenger. Since then, he has been totally won over by this method of sustainable travel and the best CptnZeppos ambassador imaginable. I post content on social media but don't really advertise anything else. Passengers who return wildly enthusiastic are pulling the cart and, of course, that makes the whole adventure extra fun."


You can find all the info at The startertrips leave on Friday evening. Guide price: count from 100 euros per day per person.

joris vanbree standing in front of a cargo ship with a cap from CtpnZeppos

"Compared to nature, man is very small".


"On board I have never really been scared, but it can get exciting sometimes. For example, I was once on a ship in the Bay of Biscay where the sea was incredibly rough and the ship was on an unbelievable incline. I really thought that the containers would roll off the ship and all disappear into the sea. In my cabin, everything flew out of the cupboards and I was rolling around in my bed all night. Only then do you realise that a 300-metre ship, which is quite impressive to us, means nothing to nature. To us, a ship like that guarantees safety, but once at sea, it's actually a joke.

Here, a day is largely determined by the people around us. On board, the day is all yours. You share the day only with the sea, the sky and the crew.

I have been waiting for about two years now to do the Panama Canal journey because, of course, passenger transport on the cargo ships has also been at a standstill throughout the corona crisis. Since March 2020, passengers have not had access to the cargo ships. It is now starting up again, but throughout the crisis several crews were not allowed or unable to disembark for months: their home ashore seemed a distant mirage. A hell for many of them as they often have very strong ties with their families. Much stronger than the ties we sometimes have with family. A silent drama that never made the newspapers here.

Really travelling to, say, another continent, whether by plane or freighter, and having a deep experience, changes you as a human being. If you then find yourself back in the daily rat race and confronted with the basis of our civilisation, this can sometimes cause difficulties, but I find travelling and the wake-up call that comes with it only positive. A bit less is sometimes possible. The hardest part is of course staying aware of that", Ward concludes.

Company informationEstablished: April 2019Member of: VVRTelephone: +32 478 57 21 74E-mail: info@cptnzeppos.comWebsite:



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