On the afternoon of April 11, Titanic steamed away from Queenstown, Ireland, and out into the open waters of the Atlantic, bound for New York. The ship would be the home of 322 first class passengers, 275 second class passengers, and 712 third class passengers for the next six days.
As a reflection of the period, Titanic was divided into separate classes, with separate areas of the ship available to each class. As one might imagine, a great deal of attention went into the amenities offered to first class passengers. Facilities unique to first class included a gymnasium, squash court, Turkish and electric baths, swimming pool, and a dark room for photographers. It is important to note that while these facilities were available, they came at a price. It cost 4s to use the Turkish bath, 1s for the gymnasium, and 4s for a session on the squash court. Three elevator lifts were available to first class passengers to conveniently travel between decks.
First class sleeping quarters rivaled those of the finest hotels in Europe. You had to pay for that luxury though: the most expensive first class ticket cost 870 pounds (compared to 7 pounds 10s for a third class ticket). A variety of decorative styles were used to outfit the various state rooms, including Louis XVI, Italian Renaissance, Georgian, Regency, and Adams. The most luxurious accommodations were the promenade suites located on B deck, which had their own private decks. These suites also included two bedrooms, a sitting room, two wardrobe rooms, a private bath, and a room for the occupant’s personal servant. Ship stewards and stewardesses were also available around the clock to meet any request made by first class passengers. Their quarters were located along the first class corridors, so that they could come quickly when a bell was rung to summon them. Over half of the ship’s 900 crew members were assigned to look after Titanic’s passengers.
Second class cabins were equivalent to first class accommodations on most other ships. Each room held between two and four berths and had mahogany furniture and white walls. Like first class, second class passengers had their own library and smoking room. They also had promenade space located on the aft portion of the boat deck, which could be reached through the second class stairway or through a lift that ran from G deck to the boat deck.
One amenity shared by both first and second class was the ship’s orchestra, which was comprised of 8 members led by violinist Wallace Hartley, who had been recruited from the Mauretania. Pianist Theodore Brailey and cellist Roger Bricoux had previously played on the Carpathia. The band had a repertoire of 352 songs, and each member was expected to know each tune by its number when Hartley called it out to be played. The orchestra was divided into two sections: a violin, piano, and cello trio played in the second class lounge and dining saloon as well as in the first class reception room. The remaining five members played during teatime and Sunday service, and gave after-dinner concerts.
Third class passengers were mostly immigrants. Shipping lines like the White Star Line made the majority of their profits from the transport of immigrants to the New World, but because their passage was almost always one way, it was not thought necessary to impress them with the ship’s amenities. However, on Titanic, third class passengers found their accommodations to be much better than what they would have had on other ships. Sleeping arrangements were somewhat cramped, with four or six-berth cabins, along with dormitories that had up to 8 bunks. But the White Star Line provided third class passengers with a general room, which served as a meeting room where passengers could converse. It was panelled and framed in pine, and finished with enamel white. Teak tables, chairs, and benches were also provided, along with a piano for entertainment. There was also a smoking room, and third class passengers could take the air on the Well deck, which was located near the stern of the ship.
One of the most important social functions that took place on the ship was dining, which will be covered in the next post.
A few photos to compare accommodations:
Sources: The Titanic: The Extraordinary Story of the “Unsinkable” Ship by Geoff Tibballs, Anatomy of the Titanic by Tom McCluskie
All interior photos (except Turkish bath) from Tom McCluskie’s Anatomy of the Titanic