With CptnZeppos by freighter to New York

- by Dominique Piedfort, Zeeland Courant & BN de stem, 26/03/2019

Sailing on a freighter to the other side of the ocean. It is possible with the company CptnZeppos of Joris Van Bree from Antwerp. Van Bree also provides boarding places in Terneuzen and Vlissingen. "The slowness and the vastness and still being on the way. That's enormously inspiring."

Captain Zeppos was a Flemish TV hero from the time of Swiebertje. It is also the name of an eatery on the Mechelseplein in Antwerp, opposite the place where Van Bree started his business. He got the idea during a cycling trip along the Scheldt to the polder village of Lillo.

"I saw a cargo ship pass by. A Filipino on board waved at me. I wanted to ask him what life on such a ship is like. How long he had been underway, where he was from. I was looking for a way to sail with such a ship. Then I visited the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp. How people used to travel from Antwerp to New York made a deep impression on me. Then I knew for sure. I wanted to go to New York on a ship. It was a fantastic journey. The experience was overwhelming, indescribable, nothing could compare to that. That's why I now want to give other people that chance."

A cargo ship is not a cruise ship. There's no entertainment, is there? "There's nothing to do on a ship like that. But you can do everything. I took a lot of pictures, filmed and read. You are isolated from everything and everyone. Most ships have a recreational area, a sauna or a swimming pool. And the food on board is very good. After the captain, the chef is the most important person on board. That is normal. When you're on the road for months at a time, the food is very important."

On a cargo ship we work. Don't you get in the way of the crew? No, you don't usually see the crew. You'll bump into them in the corridors, even on the way to their cabins. I think I make their lives more pleasant by bringing in passengers. I compare the crew to monks in an abbey.

In an abbey, I think there is little interest in what the monks do every day. An outsider looks at it completely differently. On the ship I experienced that the first officer was overwhelmed with questions during a guided tour. Everyone likes to feel appreciated for their work, don't they? On deck you do meet the other passengers. But compare that to city life. You can talk to each other, but you can also pass each other by. You know that you have to give each other some space. And there is plenty of room on the deck for that. ”

So anyone can come on board? You have to present a doctor's certificate and not be too old or too young. There is a customs screening. Drugs and alcohol are not allowed. On board you have to follow the rules, that goes without saying."

Pure relaxation, away from the social media, a lot of time to think and sometimes meet yourself.

- Joris Van Bree, founder CptnZeppos

From April 1st (no, this is not a joke) Zeppos sets sail. Joris Van Bree already received a lot of attention in the Flemish media. Good for a lot of interest? The first passenger has already signed up. The lady also sails from Antwerp to New York, a journey which takes fourteen days, six of which are ocean days."

Van Bree describes his trip from Antwerp to New York. Pure relaxation, away from the social media, lots of time to think and sometimes running into yourself. The slowness and the vastness and yet be on the road. That's very inspiring."

When you finally arrive, isn't that the best thing? "There were six of us on the road, under-- four of us disembarked. So I was on the bridge with an American on loan on a 300-meter ship when I arrived. Suddenly the Statue of Liberty looms up. It was insane, it really got me." A trip on a freighter costs about a hundred euros a day. You can opt for a journey of six to 119 days to more destinations. Source: Zeeuwse Courant



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