Federal Schelde (1967)

Feb. 17, 2008

I sailed from Montreal to Rotterdam on the Federal Schelde in November, 1969.  It was an eleven day journey.  There were three passengers on board, myself, my boyfriend and an elderly woman.  We were given the owner's quarters, which we were told was ritzier than the Captain's suite. Not only did we have a bedroom with twin beds, but a living room as well.  A door from the living room opened up to the bar area. We were always invited by the Captain of the ship for pre-dinner drinks in the bar. We dined with the Captain and his officers and were served splendid French cuisine, including steak tartar and champagne on Sundays.

The Captain of the ship (I don't remember his name unfortunately) was an artist and he gave us a beautiful sketch he had drawn of the ship. He said it was his hobby to sketch the various ports he visited and on this occasion, the ship itself. We walked his little dog on the deck of the freighter and I noticed that the ship was immaculate from stem to stern.  Now I know why, because the ship was built in 1967.

A friend of mine worked for a travel agency in Montreal and she was able to secure this passage for us at a cost of $250.00 each. A few years later we learned that freighters no longer carried passengers because of insurance costs.

We were interviewed by Dutch customs in the bar area of the ship and in no time we were free to begin our one year's journey through Europe, North Africa, the Canary Islands, South & East Africa, Israel, Greece and back up to Paris. With the exception of a Third Class Passenger voyage to Cape Town from the Canary Islands on a Cunard liner and flights to Israel and Greece, we hitch-hiked our way throughout these countries. I felt like I was treated like royalty by the Captain and officers of the Federal Schelde, even though my dress code for dinner was always the same - a crinkled cotton dress with a frayed hem, which I thought to be stylish. Our total bar bill for the eleven day journey was $12.00, which we were presented with shortly before we were interviewed by the customs officers. 

Thank you,
Bette Hawley
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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