Tag Archives: white star line

First Class Passengers Aboard Titanic

Cover of List of First Class Passengers

After first class passengers were settled into their staterooms and the ship set sail, a small booklet entitled List of First Class Passengers was delivered to each room.  This comprehensive list included the names not only of all first class passengers and their children, but also whether or not those passengers had their maids or manservants with them.  It allowed passengers to know who they’d be rubbing elbows with in the dining saloon or on the promenade deck.  This list could also be used by ambitious mothers hoping to put their daughters in the way of an eligible, wealthy bachelor, perhaps by persuading an understanding steward to arrange for their daughters to be seated next to said bachelor at dinner.  Some of these passengers were so well-known that they were listed under alias names on the passenger list, including Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff Gordon.  Mistresses of certain wealthy passengers, such as Benjamin Guggenheim’s Parisian mistress Madame Aubart, would also be listed under an alias.

J.J. Astor and wife Madeleine

Perhaps one of the most famous passengers on board was 47 year old Colonel John Jacob Astor, whose personal wealth was estimated to be $87 million.  He traveled with his second wife Madeleine Astor, who was five months pregnant.  After a scandalous divorce and marriage to a woman a year younger than his son, Astor and his new wife had gone to Europe over the winter to honeymoon and wait for the gossip to die down.  In the spring of 1912 they decided to return home, and booked passage aboard the Titanic, in a parlor suite on C deck.

Isidor & Ida Straus

Another C deck parlor suite was occupied by Isidor and Ida Straus.  Straus had arrived to America right before the Civil War, and got his start selling Confederate bonds.  After the war he sold china with his brother, and asked if they might sell it in a start up store in New York called Macy’s.  Within ten years, the two brothers owned the entire store.  Mr. and Mrs. Straus had traveled to Europe with their daughter Beatrice.  She stayed behind when her parents decided to return to home on board the Titanic.

Mrs. Charlotte Cardeza

Occupying one of the pricey promenade suites (J. Bruce Ismay stayed in the other) was Philadelphian Mrs. Charlotte Cardeza and her son Thomas.  They brought 14 trunks, 4 suitcases, 3 crates, and a medicine chest along with them.  Their contents included 70 dresses, 10 fur coats, 38 feather boas, 22 hatpins, and 91 pairs of gloves (Mrs. Cardeza and her son survived the sinking, and later filed the largest claim against the White Star Line for loss of property, at 36,567 pounds).

Countess of Rothes

Also staying on B deck was the Countess of Rothes, who married the 19th Earl of Rothes in 1900, and was on her way to join him in Canada.  She traveled with her cousin, Gladys Cherry.

Dorothy Winifred Gibson

Another famous first class passenger was 22 year old actress Dorothy Winifred Gibson, who traveled with her mother back to America after being wired by the producer (who was also her lover) of the film company she worked for explaining that new films were ready for her to make.

Many other notable figures of the time graced the List of First Class Passengers, including George Widener, president of the Philadelphia streetcar system (traveling with his wife and son), John B. Thayer, second vice president of the Pennsylvania railroad (traveling with his wife and son), and Mrs. Molly Brown, wife of Denver millionaire J.J. Brown.

These prominent members of society enjoyed all of the glamour and luxury that the White Star Line offered.   Meanwhile, Titanic steamed towards New York, unaware that the “practically unsinkable” ship’s safety features would soon be put to the test.

Sources: Encyclopedia TitanicaThe Titanic: The Extraordinary Story of the “Unsinkable” Ship by Geoff Tibballs, Titanic: The Exhibition by John P. Eaton and Charles A. Haas, The Titanic Collection Guide by Eric Sauder and Hugh Brewster, Titanic: Fortune & Fate by Beverly McMillan and Stanley Lehrer

Leave a comment

Filed under Titanic

Dining on the Titanic

First Class Luncheon Menu, April 14

The White Star Line aimed not only to impress Titanic’s passengers with luxurious accommodations and amenities, but also with its dining selection.  After Captain E. J. Smith, head chef Charles Proctor was the highest-paid crew member on board the ship.

First class dining saloon

First class passengers had the largest number of dining options.  Bugles sounding “The Roast Beef of Old England” (the traditional call to meals aboard White Star ships) signaled the serving of lunch and dinner (though a dress call was sounded a half hour prior to dinner as well).  At this time passengers would perhaps go to the dining saloon located on D deck.  Stretching the entire width of the ship (114 feet), it could seat up to 500 people.  Seating was assigned and passengers generally had the same dining companions throughout the trip.  The large saloon had some recesses as well as portable screens that would allow privacy for those parties that wanted it.  But if first class passengers were looking for a more intimate space to take their meals, they might choose the a la carte restaurant located on the Bridge deck, or perhaps the Cafe Parisien, which was a favorite spot for the younger first class passengers.

Cafe Parisien, a favorite spot for the younger set of first class passengers

A la carte restaurant

The second class dining saloon was also located on D deck and stretched the width of the ship, but was smaller at 71 feet and a capacity of 394 people, which meant diners had to come at different “sittings.”  The room was nicely appointed with mahogany furniture and oak paneling.

The kitchens for both the first and second class dining saloons were located on D deck to expedite service, as were the serving rooms, pantries, and bakeries.  Each kitchen was equipped with two ranges (each with 19 ovens), as well as electrical slicing, potato-peeling, mincing, whisking, and freezing machines.

The third class dining saloon was located on F deck, and once again stretched the entire width of the ship.  At 100 feet long, it could accommodate 470 passengers, which meant that third class passengers ate at three different “sittings.”  The room was well lit with portholes and side lights, and was finished in enamel white.  The third class kitchen and pantry were located just aft of the dining saloon.

Before leaving Southampton, Titanic took into its inventory 127,000 pieces of tableware, including bone china dinner plates, cut-glass tumblers, and fine crystal.  75,000 lbs. of fresh meat and 11,000 lbs. of fresh fish were brought on board, along with 40,000 fresh eggs and 1,500 gallons of milk.  Ingredients to prepare meals to rival those of the finest restaurants in Europe stocked the ship’s pantries.

Front of first class dinner menu

On the evening of April 14, first class passengers in the dining saloon were served a seven-course meal.  Hors d’oeuvres or oysters came first, then a choice of two soups.  Next was a salmon dish followed by a choice of chicken Lyonnaise or stuffed marrow.  This was followed by the main course, which was a choice of lamb, duckling or sirloin of beef along with vegetables.  After the main dish passengers chose from four light savory dishes such as cold asparagus vinaigrette, and then finally were served one of four desserts: Waldorf pudding, peaches in Chartreuse jelly, chocolate and vanilla eclairs, or French ice cream.  If one wanted wine or other spirits they were required to fill out a card at the table.  This order would be charged to their account, which passengers would settle at the end of the voyage.

Inside of first class dinner menu for April 14

On the same evening in the second class dining saloon, passengers were served a four-course meal.  This included a clear soup, a fish course of baked haddock, a choice of curried chicken with rice, spring lamb, or roast turkey with vegetables or rice, and a choice of dessert, which included plum pudding, wine jelly, coconut sandwich or American ice cream.

While the first and second class midday meal was called “lunch,” and the evening course called “dinner,” the main meals in third class were labeled “dinner” and “tea.”  “Dinner” in this case was served midday, and consisted of soup, a meat dish such as roast pork, a dessert, and fruit.  Tea included a cooked course, bread, a light dessert, and, of course, tea.  Besides these two meals, breakfast and a late supper were also served.  Breakfast included cereal, kippers or boiled eggs, bread, marmalade, and tea or coffee.  The supper meal consisted of cheese and biscuits or gruel and coffee.

Meals were a time for camaraderie among the ship’s passengers.  And for first class, it was a time to see and be seen.  The next post will focus on some of the famous faces aboard the Titanic.

Sources: Anatomy of the Titanic by Tom McCLuskie, Titanic: Fortune & Fate by Beverly McMillan and Stanley Lehrer, The Titanic: The Extraordinary Story of the “Unsinkable Ship” by Geoff Tibballs, The Titanic Collection Guide by Eric Sauder and Hugh Brewster, Notes for First Class Passengers On Board the Steamers of the White Star Line

Interior photos from Anatomy of the Titanic, menus from The Titanic Collection


Filed under Titanic

Passenger Life Aboard the Titanic

Titanic leaving Queenstown, Ireland

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.

Turkish bath

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.

Saltwater swimming pool (likely on the Olympic)

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.

Cabin B60 opening onto a private drawing room

Sitting room of a parlor suite in the Adams style

Sitting room of a parlor suite in Regency style

First class cabin B38

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.

Wallace Hartley

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:

First class smoking room

Second class smoking room (on the Olympic, but similar to what would have been on the Titanic)

First class corridor (all pipes are hidden behind paneling)

Third class passageway

The first class grand staircase

Second class staircase (on the Olympic)

Third class staircase

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


Filed under Titanic

Leaving Southampton: The Voyage Begins

Titanic, just before departing on its maiden voyage

On April 10, 1912, the first passengers boarded Titanic in Southampton, England, for her maiden voyage.  Many came out to see off the largest ship afloat, which had received a great deal of publicity for her grandeur, as well as her safety features.  Shipbuilder magazine had gone so far as to call the Titanic “practically unsinkable,” due to the ship’s watertight compartments and automatic closing watertight doors.  The term “unsinkable” became synonymous with Titanic, though the ship’s builders never made such guarantees.

Titanic had the capacity to carry 3,547 passengers and crew, though for her maiden voyage, only 2,207 passengers and crew were on board.

J. Bruce Ismay

The ship was the brainchild of J. Bruce Ismay of the White Star Line.  His desire was to find a way to compete with the Cunard Line, whose ships were breaking speed records in their transatlantic crossings.  But rather than focusing on speed, Ismay wished to build ships that would be more spacious and luxurious than what the Cunard Line offered.  The latest safety features would also be installed, something the White Star Line prided itself on.  Between 1902 and 1912 the line had carried over two million passengers, and had only lost two.  With these concepts in mind, Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast began work on the Olympic and the Titanic in 1908.

Olympic & Titanic side by side

Titanic’s sea trials began just two days after her fitting out was completed, on April 2, 1912.  The British Board of Trade signed off on the safety of the vessel, stating it was seaworthy and ready for its maiden voyage.

Titanic was outfitted with 16 lifeboats and 4 collapsibles, which all together could carry approximately 1,100 people.  And while this number was roughly 30% of the ship’s total capacity, it still exceeded the British Board of Trade’s requirements, which had not been updated since 1894.  Under these regulations, any ship over 10,000 tons was required to carry 16 lifeboats.  Titanic weighed in at 46,000 tons.  Her deck had room for 64 lifeboats, which would sufficiently hold the maximum capacity of people on board, and while 64 boats were originally proposed by the builders, the owners were concerned they would crowd the boat deck, which would be used by First Class.  Besides, the White Star Line felt that the Titanic would be able to stay afloat long enough for assistance to arrive, and the lifeboats would simply be used to shuttle people to the other ship and then return for more passengers.  And the four collapsibles meant they were taking extra precautions by adding an additional 196 seats.

Lifeboats loaded in davits on the Titanic

Lifeboats and watertight compartments were likely the last things on passengers’ minds as they boarded this veritable floating hotel on April 10.  They were likely occupied with taking in the impressive accommodations offered to all three classes.  The next post will explore the ship’s interior as passengers settled in for their voyage to America.

Source: The Titanic: The Extraordinary Story of the “Unsinkable” Ship by Geoff Tibballs


Filed under Titanic