The seven-year-old Emma Mærsk can carry more cargo than a 41-mile-long train and has a turning radius of almost a mile. Even compared to oil tankers, she’s more like a city than a boat—albeit a city that few people ever get to explore. But in 2010, a young photographer named Jakob Wagner became one of the rare civilian passengers to board Emma.
Wagner was working as a photo assistant at the time, and an assignment brought him aboard the ship, which operates on a regular route from Denmark to Asia, travelling through the the Strait of Gibraltar and the Suez Canal along the way. “Through my work, sometimes I get the chance to visit places that are refused to outsiders,” he explains, describing the trip as “a really impressive journey.”
Wagner only experienced a small piece of Emma’s cross-global route, but the photos he captured along the way are no less remarkable: They show the process of loading Emma in Rotterdam, leaving port, and making the journey to Felixstowe, about 100 miles across the English Channel. Wagner seems to have had right of passage around the ship, and ended capturing amazing details, including the lights of commercial airplanes overhead and the captain, lounging in a sandals-and-socks combo atop Emma’s massive navigation deck.
It might just be the long-exposures, but there’s a definite sense that time moves more slowly aboard a vessel this large. Check out more of Wagner’s work on his website.