Helen, passenger on board HS Bach

I met Helen in September 2013 when she joined our vessel HS Bach in Miami. The minute I saw her, I knew that we’d become very good friends as I really liked her nice smiling face and her beautiful and bright eyes. We spent our first hour together on the starboard side wing, watching the departure maneuver from the port and changing a few words about each other’s lives. I found out that she was studying Geophysics in Norwich,  England and she was coming back home after one year spent in Canada as an exchange student. She was really excited to go home, to see her family and friends after one year absence. As she told me, it looked out that she really worked hard to afford a trip like this, putting money aside to pay the round trip by container vessel from Europe to USA and back. While she stayed on board, we spent many hours together – forward, admiring the sea and the sky and discussing continuously about different subjects , doing some gymnastic (she taught me how to shake the hula hoop). Sometimes, she was taking her book and going outside for a quiet moment all alone. She even cooked some very good apple crumble for us and all the crew was very happy. In the evenings, we used to meet in the Recreation room – together with other people from the crew – where we were playing darts, backgammon or just sharing nice conversations.The two weeks passed like a dream and, as much I was sad to say ‘goodbye’ to her, I had to be glad for her returning home because she was really missing her home, family and friends.

Here’s her side of the story about the trip on our vessel.

Thank you, Helen, for sharing this with us:

‘I chose to travel on a container vessel as there aren’t many options when it comes to crossing an ocean, and I didn’t want to fly. Participating in an industry attached to such environmental impact is not something I want to do, and for now at least, I think container ships are a better choice. Fortunately, it turns out to be an extremely enjoyable mode of travel, provided you can find the money for the pricey ticket and are able to plan your journey months in advance. Another prerequisite is patience for filling in forms and dealing with visa regulations, but that’s true of any interesting trip.

I travelled from Miami in the U.S. to Le Havre, France, in beautiful September weather. If you like looking at clouds, the open ocean is a good place to go, and I spent a good amount of time floating in the on-deck blow-up swimming pool staring at the sky. Another big activity was staring over the side in the hope of catching some wildlife. With patience, you see it in plenty: flying fish, dolphins, whales, birds and even … a bat. There’s also the human company – getting to know some of the crew members and others on board was really lovely, and I made some friends I hope to keep for a long time. Social activities included darts (much funnier on a rolling ship), exchanging cultural puddings and long conversations while waiting for the dolphins.

Accommodation is very luxurious (from the perspective of a skint student at least), and I was lucky enough to get two good sized rooms, of which my favourite feature was the openable windows. They also come with fridge, bathroom, sofas, etc. etc. The meals are generous, tasty and varied, the only problem I had was getting myself hungry enough after one for the next – you get as much on your plate as the crew do, but they’re working a bit harder than you …

I will absolutely travel in this way again, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys a slower pace of life and a long horizon.”

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– Helen preparing apple crumble for the crew –

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