Dorothee Holzegger

Towards the end of her professional career in medical and social institutions, the Swiss national Dorothee Holzegger came up with the idea to leave behind this phase of life "symbolically" and to start a new one. She thought about an Atlantic crossing, but not with a cruise ship.

When she "accidentally" saw the advert of the NSB travel agencies in Bremen, she called there and received information from Outi Gloger that one of the NSB ships sails every month from Europe to USA and back! And that's how everything started...

Since then, Dorothee Holzegger has been on six different ships, with four Captains, on routes such as Hamburg - China and back; Bremerhaven - USA - Gulf of Mexico and back; Los Angeles - China and back, a total of ten trips on NSB vessels. Outi Gloger, from our tourism travel agency in Bremen, talked to her about about the fascination of travelling on cargo ships.

 

After all those voyages: What is the nicest thing for you on board?

 

Each of these trips had something special, and also those routes I travelled on several times retained their magic: Every day is different, and yet there is so much that is familiar. The best thing for me is that I may now be the 'ship's photographer' off and on! This has a certain history:

I had associated travel and photography with each other for many years. On the first trip on a container ship, I had my first digital camera with me. The Captain found my picture on the screen especially nice, and he gave me the tip to process the images for Magix photo shows. Since then, in addition to photo albums, I create photo shows after the trip and am always invited to put these on show.


 

What fascinates you so much about these trips?

There is a whole new world to watch and being there has been opened this up to me! Examples are

  • arriving and departing from ports
  • the loading and unloading of the ship
  • the continuing voyage with such a vessel and to notice when and how it moves
  • the change in engine noise
  • a variety of weather situations and moods (e.g. sea, sky, wind, time of day, temperatures, views, horizons)
  • cooperation, both on board and that it is possible to work internationally in this way together!

Again and again, I am impressed by the great responsibility the Captain has. If something does not work, you cannot just get what you need from the shop; and on the ship, those responsible are reliant on optimal cooperation with all the relevant authorities on land. Compared to life on land, there is restricted communication and along with the different times of day on land and at sea.

Well, I am impressed most to be part of the everyday life in such a community and an otherwise alien world of technology. It always takes some time until some feeling of belonging sets in. Photography is a good medium for that - it is not just the "guys" that are happy when they can take home photos of themselves at work and of the ship. It also happens that an NWO lets me know that there will soon be something interesting to photograph - for example, when there is a change in direction and the propeller conjures colorful "curves" in the sea.

The mutual trust is very important to me: I ask every time if I am allowed to do this or that. Meanwhile, I am, for example for berthing and departure maneuvers, often on deck here or take photographs from the pier, in matching clothes and safety helmet of course.

Every time, I look spellbound from close by as the lines are cast and we "go ashore". Or if the big, heavy ship docks at the pier and no movement is felt, no shocks!

There is so much that is new again on each trip: To observe the officer on watch at his work, or even at the card table, to be able to ask him something; when he talks to me about his family, his children; or to watch the cook and steward while they work their magic; when I'm on the bridge, even in the early morning, I am welcome - it is sooo nice for me just to be there!

Every time it feels like a gift when I can watch a sunrise or sunset - against an horizon without obstruction, with varying colors and shades of sky and sea! But even bad weather can have its appeal, at least for a Swiss landlubber: The patter of strong, heavy raindrops on the peak; when it pours down with rain and I can be in the dry - and how quickly sometimes a storm is finished. Or how many days and nights the ship rolls through its voyage, so that you get the impression that the waves and boat ride together at the same pace. The rolling of the ship in heavy seas is second to none!


Do you have a favorite place on board?

If the crew has completed its work on deck in the evening, it is time for my tour. And I also like looking out for the little things (I call these "details"), which sometimes look really nice and funny, and taking a photograph of them is a "must".

At the bow it is very still and quiet, the usual engine noises are far away - every time this is something wonderful. At sunset time, there are sometimes brilliant red wave crests! The moving shadows of the container also give interesting views and images, and the "water screw" at the stern forms changing colors, shapes, shadows and a symphony of sound.

 

 

Have you experienced any special situations or storms?

During a trip, three typhoons lay ahead of the ship, and it was not clear how they would continue to develop. The action that the captain decided to take in this situation was impressive:

Change the default route, stop the next day and then wait until it became clear as to how the weather would change further. So we stopped in the glassy, deep blue sea, and a lifeboat was extended as part of an exercise. Then we drifted until the evening.

When it became clear that the remaining storm had cleared in front of us and had moved over land, and its offshoots could cause no harm, aside from the ship rocking a little more in the night - we moved on! On this day and the next, there were particularly impressive cloud images.


Do you sometimes go ashore?

If the opportunity presents itself - but I do not feel the need for trips ashore because I'm very busy on board.

 

What are your plans for future cargo voyages?

Currently, I have so much to do that I will not make plans for the time being. I trust that something appropriate will come to mind in due course - and I'm looking forward to it!

To the other travelogues:

Barbecues

On longer voyages, barbeques are staged now and then on deck on many ships. This is a welcome break from routine and an opportunity for socializing, not only for the crew.