THE 100th anniversary of the Titanic tragedy is being widely observed on both sides of the Atlantic, at museum openings, special exhibits and lectures, theatrical performances, concerts, readings and walking and graveyard tours. Guests at some events are invited to dress in fashions of the era, and Titanic-themed cocktails and re-creations of the elaborate first-class meal from the storied liner’s last dinner will be served. Two Titanic Memorial Cruises to the site of the sinking are planned, and the ships are scheduled to be there on the anniversary, April 15.Read the rest here.
But what was life onboard the Titanic actually like? Not much like taking a cruise today.
Traveling on the Titanic was a voyage of purpose, primarily to transport mail, cargo and passengers, many of whom were emigrating, as steadily and safely as possible.
Designed to withstand harsh seas and cut through water, the Titanic was built with efficiency in mind. Ships today are capable of traveling at speeds similar to the Titanic’s but rarely do, as cruising is about pleasure, said John Maxtone-Graham, a maritime historian and author of the newly published book “Titanic Tragedy: A New Look at the Lost Liner.”
Eight professional musicians played for first-class (and occasionally second-class) passengers on the Titanic, but there was no other professional entertainment. There were also no shore excursions, and activities were limited to things like playing cards, reading, socializing and sitting or promenading on deck to get fresh air. “The average person today would be bored to tears on the Titanic,” said Charles Weeks, emeritus professor of marine transportation at the Maine Maritime Academy.
I am not sure the comparison is fair. The Titanic (second of the Olympic class liners) was a fine ship for the Edwardian period. Of course modern luxuries would be lacking on a ship built in 1912 primarily for passenger service and not leisure travel. Still she was a very elegant liner of the pre-war tradition. There were quite a few amenities on the ship including a gym, a library, a swimming pool (the author is incorrect in her description of it as a plunge bath), squash and racquetball courts, and Turkish baths.
For one of the better collections of interior photos of the Titanic and her near identical sister ship Olympic I refer you to this excellent blog post.