Before the Titanic journey ended badly in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the cruise experience was great on board the super ship. There was, of course, a class divide, but in spite of that, many of the passengers took part in games and exercise and enjoyed spending time in the cafes overlooking the ocean. If you're wondering what exactly people got up to on this doomed ship, then keep on reading!
The Lavish Life Aboard the Titanic - Before It SankPublished 8 months ago
April 10, 1912 is the day the Titanic left the port of Southampton, England in the United Kingdom, intending to sail to New York on her maiden voyage. There were more than 2,200 passengers and crew on board and was the largest cruise ship at the time.
After sailing for 5 days, the ship hit an iceberg which ripped a hole in the hull, and the ship started taking in water. It only took 2 hours for the ship to be completely submerged underwater, and it dragged 1,500 lives down with it. Hardly any survivors made it, and have called the event horrific. However, before the unsinkable ship very much sank, life on board the Titanic was incredibly enjoyable.
There was a huge range of passengers onboard the Titanic, and they were divided into classes. There was first-class, second-class, and third-class, and each came with a different ticket cost. First-class tickets cost thousands of dollars, which was a huge amount to pay for a comfortable journey on a luxury cruise ship, especially for the year 1912.
Understandably, the type of ticket a passenger paid for, determined the benefits and amenities they had access to. Let's look at Charlotte Drake Cardeza, who survived the catastrophe. She was the daughter of a wealthy owner of a textile mill and was a yachtswoman and game hunter. Cardeza is supposed to have paid $2,600 for her first-class ticket onboard. That's the equivalent of a whopping $61,000 in USD today.
You might ask what you got included in your first-class ticket? Well, Cardeza had a three-bedroom suite onboard, for her, her son and her maid. Within that suite, she had her own bathroom and closet. Because she was a first-class passenger, she had access to the best services onboard, ones that weren't available for second or third class passengers.
These included: being able to enjoy a lovely morning in the veranda cafe or having tea in the first-class tea room. The Titanic was renowned as the most luxurious and lavish ship on the oceans and it lived up to its reputation! Another passenger who survived the tragedy later went on to publish a book about his experiences onboard!
A lot of people wonder what happened to the animals that were brought on board the Titanic, and with more than 1,500 people losing their lives, it makes sense that the Titanic animals were overshadowed. What really happened though was that when the Titanic set off on her ill-fated journey, it wasn't just first-class passengers who were on the maiden voyage.
There were also first-class dogs on board the ship, and it wasn't just their owners who got the first-class treatment, they did too. The ship has a specific kennel for pedigree pups, and each kennel came with its own caretaker, and there is a record of twelve of these dogs on the ship. However, when the Titanic sank, unfortunately only three dogs survived: two Pomeranians and one Pekinese. These three pooches were saved by their owners, Margaret Hays, Myna Harper, and Elizabeth Barrett Rothschild.
Thayer wrote about his dinner while on the Titanic, saying he went to his staterooms at 6:30 pm to get dressed for dinner. His parents had been invited to dinner that night, so he had dinner alone at his family's table.
You're probably wondering what type of dinner the Thayer family would have as first-class passengers. Well, this wasn't a cafeteria, or buffet-type dinner, because first-class passengers dined in style with dinner and music. There was a live orchestra playing the background music, and the furniture and the wall paneling were all covered with rich, intricately carved patterns. The people who ate in this dining room were just as lavish as the room itself!
The food on board the Titanic was luxuriously gourmet. Thayer, in his own words, called the ship 'palatial' and said the food was delicious. First-class passengers were given huge meals, consisting of thirteen courses!
The kitchen served up pate de foie gras, peaches in a jelly made with chartreuse, and a vanilla and fruit (apple, walnut, and raisin) pudding known as a Waldorf pudding. Each course came with wine, and the entire dining experience could last up to five hours. And that was just to eat! Other courses included lamb, oysters, veal, roast duck, sturgeon marrow, creamed carrots, and sirloin steaks. However, first-class passengers weren't complete gluttons.
Up to now, we've had a proper look at what life on board the Titanic was like for a first-class traveler, but we haven't even looked at the second and third-class passengers. What could they do? Did they have to stay in their cabins and let everyone else enjoy the luxury of the ship?
The answer is no, as second-class passengers had almost the same privileges as first-class passengers did. Except they didn't get 13-course dinners. Just like their first-class counterparts, second-class passengers had access to the veranda cafes and lounges, but they felt the difference when it came to their rooms and their meals. A second-class ticket cost $60, or $1,400 today, and came with a room with two single beds and a small closet. Second-class cabins didn't have their own bathrooms, but they all had a sink, and sometimes they had a small table, too.
First- and second-class passengers could do a lot of the same activities, but there was a divide between them. Second-class passenger dinners weren't as finessed and were much more simple affairs, compared to the roast duck and foie gras found in the first-class dinner.
However, there was still a lot of luxurious food available to second-class travelers. Not everyone was eating chicken curry and chartreuse jelly every night. This was the Titanic, and it didn't get the title 'luxury cruise liner' for no reason and even third-class passengers had some luxuries onboard. However, the differences between first and second-class passenger experiences were subtle. Although it seems that all three classes had access to the luxuries onboard but to varying degrees.
Looking at the photos of people on board the Titanic, smiling and enjoying themselves is bittersweet because we know exactly what the fate of the ship was. What's worse is that, while there were 107 children on board the Titanic, only 50 of them survived.
However, before the devastation occurred, everyone on board was able to let go of their worries and concerns. It wasn't just the adults who had fun and games on the Titanic. In fact, children who were on the ship with their parents had so much fun: they could play games, run around and meet other children from all over the world. The ship was huge and even had a children's playground on the saloon deck. Cruise ships today often have staff whose sole job is to entertain children, and the Titanic wasn't any different.
Third-class passengers didn't have their dinner in an extravagant dining hall, surrounded by intricately carved wooden furniture and glass chandeliers. Instead, they ate in a bare dining hall, where rows of tables were lined up around the room, and passengers would come together and be served a selection of dishes. Third-class dinner was generally: roast beef with gravy, corn, and boiled potatoes.
Then, for dessert, they had plum pudding. That's all there was to it, but of course, that's based on the only surviving menu. However, there is an assumption that the food offered was a reflection in the cost of admission to the ship. So third-class were given a wholesome and filling meal, but there's not much to complain about with a meal of meat and potatoes! Some of us think of ourselves as dining luxuriously if we add some sausage or bacon to our mac and cheese.
The Titanic tooted its own horn as a luxury cruise ship, so it makes sense that some of the most famous people of the Edwardian era would be on board the ship. However, these celebrities can't be compared to our actors or musicians. Rather, these celebrities were just highly regarded or well-known members of society, or just super-wealthy people who had a public persona.
One of these famous people was the millionaire John Jacob Astor, and he was part of the Astor family who helped with the famous Waldorf-Astoria hotel. The silent film star Dorothy Gibson was also on board, as was the co-owner of Macy's Department Store, Isidore Straus. Unfortunately neither Astor nor Straus survived the tragic sinking, but Gibson somehow managed to seek refuge and survived it all.
After eating a 13-course dinner, the high society gentlemen and women don't want their waists to expand too much or get themselves a double chin, so what did they do about it? They went to the gym, just like we do! Whether you'd think it or not, gyms did exist in the Edwardian era.
There was even some gym equipment available: stationary bicycles, mechanical saddles, and a stationary rowing machine. The rowing machine was basically just two oars, no rudder and that was that. The gym was available to both men and women in first class and they would arrive, fully dressed, and then they'd break a sweat.
While cruise ships today are synonymous with all-you-can-eat buffets and conga lines, the White Star Line didn't have either. The Titanic was a much classier affair, and there were no tantrum-throwing toddlers in the adjoining cabin.
What they did have, however, was shuffleboards. This explains why the elderly enjoy shuffleboards: it's an age-old tradition! John D. 'Jack' Thayer was present at the Titanic tragedy and was 17 years old when it happened. While his mother survived the catastrophe by getting onto a lifeboat, Thayer actually went under with the ship. He was, therefore, plummetted into the freezing cold water before he made it to safety.
People on board the Titanic had a fantastic experience. Before it ended up on the bottom of the ocean, guests had the same sort of luxuries while cruising on the ocean that they would have on land. One of these luxuries was the Titanic's reading room.
This era was definitely divided into wealthy, working, and lower classes. Reading for fun was something that only the wealthy could do and the reading room was adequately decorated. In there you could find plush furniture and silence. It was basically a library, but without the sorting system, we have today. Men often sat reading a newspaper or a Western, and women often sat and enjoyed something more lighthearted.
Not only did first-class passengers get access to shuffleboard, a reading room, and a luxury dining experience, but they were also given additional comfort in the form of their cabins. Generally, the first-class passengers brought themselves, their families, and their maids, often alongside large trunks of clothing and possessions.
There were no luggage limitations on the Titanic! Because of the sheer amount of stuff and staff that first-class passengers brought with them, they were often in cabins that had more than one bedroom, alongside a living area and a view of the ocean. Their cabins also came with a fireplace, dining table, and lovely furniture and were lavishly decorated in different styles, including French Louis XVI, Georgian, and Queen Anne.
Not only did the first-class passengers pay a large price for their tickets for their journey, but there were also other luxuries they could pay for. One of these extra privileges was the private lounge. A luxury cruise ship is nothing without a private lounge space for the British elite classes.
In the private lounge, the wealthiest passengers could sit, gossip, or simply relax. The wait staff would serve the passengers, tea, cake, and anything else that they wished for. All of this happened to the sounds of, of course, live music. A small band with a violinist and pianist would play some music to set the mood by playing some of the favorites of the time. It's something to imagine: the ladies of the Titanic, fashionably dressed, sipping tea and sharing society scandal.
By paying for a cruise on the Titanic, you could probably afford to pay for a spa day at the Turkish baths onboard the ship. A Turkish bath is kind of like a sauna, and it's a place where people went to relax, unwind and detox from their 13-course dinner and wine they've had every night.
So while you could access all these things, and you had paid for your ticket onboard, access to the Turkish baths wasn't included in your ticket price. In fact, you had to pay extra and the admission fee was 4 shillings or $1… which is around $25 today. This was also exclusively available to first-class passengers and yet another symbol of how unnecessarily lavish the ship was. This was also a time when travelers were treated well, which is rarely the case in modern travel today.
Okay, so second-class passengers shared some luxuries with first-class passengers, like, for example, second-class passengers had access to the libraries and a smoking room. However, while both could access these places, first-class passengers got first preference.
To compare it to today, think of airport privileges: economy-class passengers had to wait in the lobby, while first-class passengers got comfortable seating. First-class passengers, and sometimes, the business class have access to their own spaces. For example, first-class travelers have their own lounge, and apparently, complimentary coffee and refreshments. On the Titanic, first-class passengers had their own lounges, tea room, and smoking room, and second-class passengers weren't invited in.
Contrary to James Cameron's movie, third-class passengers weren't as low or as poor as the movie made them out to be. A third-class ticket was still fairly pricey, costing $40, which is somewhere around the $1,000 mark now. It's not a huge amount now, but for people back then, it would have been an enormous amount.
In 1912, working-class people earned around $10 every week, which meant a third-class ticket would have taken months to save for, and that was just for one ticket. It's no surprise that Leonardo DiCaprio's character won his ticket because in reality he probably wouldn't have been able to afford it.
The travelers in the third class were definitely not wealthy, rolling around in riches. In fact, most of the third-class passengers on the Titanic were immigrants looking for a new and better life in America. Of the 2,200 passengers, 709 were third-class and the majority of them were Irish, Swedish, Finnish, and Belgian.
What made Titanic different from other cruise ships of the time was that they also provided third-class passengers with food and activities. Other shops made third-class passengers bring their own food to last them the whole length of their journey. What's more, most third-class passengers slept in rooms that were underneath the noisiest levels of the ship, and had to share two bathrooms between them all… Can you imagine spending a week onboard a ship and having to share a bathroom with more than 350 people? We wouldn't want to.
Okay so staying in third-class accommodation is probably the same as staying in a family-friendly cabin on one of today's Caribbean cruises, but that doesn't mean that third-class travelers didn't enjoy their time.
Think about it, passengers only go to their rooms to sleep and there was so much to see and do on the Titanic: amazing architecture, beautiful people, and a gym. Onboard a ship that's essentially a floating city on the ocean, would you want to spend your time indoors, in a small little room? No, well neither did the third-class passengers, who had access to amenities and activities that they took full advantage of! In fact, they could get a small taste of first-class luxury if they wanted to.
Unfortunately, as we all know, the Titanic's maiden voyage was also its only voyage. On April 15th, 1912, when the R.M.S. Titanic sank, it was almost impossible to picture the life and luxury passengers lived while on their journey.
There is, however, one ship that came close to matching the Titanic's grace and sophistication: the R.M.S. Mauretania. Oh, have you never heard of it before? The R.M.S. Mauretania was thought to be a floating palace and a treasure. It was designed by Cunard, the rival to the White Star Line company. These two companies were constantly pitted against each other, competing to build the largest, fastest cruise liners on the Atlantic Ocean, and often, their designs were very similar. If Cunard designed something breathtaking, then the White Star Line wasn't too far behind them.
The White Star Line needed to constantly compete with, and one-up Cunard and this competition was why the Titanic was built, alongside its sister ships, the R.M.S. Olympic and the R.M.S. Brittanic. So it's fairly safe to compare the interior design onboard the Mauretania to the interior of the Titanic.
One of these places is the smoking lounge, which, we've mentioned a few times before now. The reason we mention these smoking rooms is that smoking wasn't just a habit, it was an activity just like shuffleboard. It was in smoking lounges that men could play games, talk about politics and chat. It was exclusive like a lounge, but without women. The photo above shows what a first-class smoking room onboard the R.M.S. Mauretania was like.
For decades, the world only saw a tiny part of the Titanic's wreck. However, a century following the disaster and 25 years after the acclaimed movie came out, humanity will get a chance to see far more than they ever had before.
This will happen thanks to the release of an 80-minute long video taken by an American-French expedition led by oceanographer Robert Ballard and explorer Jean-Louis Michel that investigate that sunken ship in 1986. James Cameron, director of the 1997 record-breaking movie, stated that he was "transfixed when Alvin and Jason Jr ventured down to and inside the wreck. By releasing this footage, WHOI (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute) is helping tell an important part of a story that spans generations and circles the globe.”
Okay so the R.M.S. Mauretania was a floating palace, but there was one thing that it didn't have that the titanic did: an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Titanic had the largest swimming pool of any cruise ship at the time and was something that all the passengers enjoyed visiting and using.
After visiting the luxurious Turkish bath, a lot of people would go for a swim in the Titanic's pool, have a chat and play some games. That sounds quite nice, doesn't it? There's no information about whether or not the swimming pool was only available to first-class passengers, but we'd like to think that swimming was something that first, second and third-class travelers could enjoy. Maybe they had a timetable for accessibility.
Apart from dessert, every good meal needs a lovely drink to go with it. After 13 courses, you need something to wash it all down, and there's nothing better than a freshly prepared cocktail to pair with your lamb or duck. After it sank, excavations found cork wedges from bottles of champagne, including Moet & Chandon and Heidsieck & Co.
These are incredibly posh bottles of bubbly, and if Titanic travelers wanted something a bit stiffer to drink, then they could opt for a Tom Collins or a Robert Burns cocktail. If you've never heard of these before, then let us tell you: a Tom Collins is a gin-based cocktail, mixed with sparkling water and a maraschino or orange wedge garnish. A Robert Burns is a mixture of all things Scottish: scotch whiskey, vermouth, absinthe, bitters, and a shortbread cookie garnish. It was pretty strong.
We might not know many socialites from the Edwardian era nowadays, but it's interesting to hear about the famous people who just avoided being onboard the doomed cruise ship. These passengers were ready to board, had their tickets in their hands, but at the minute, decided against it. Milton Snavely Hershey was one such person, yes, the legendary chocolate maker.
Luckily, Hershey and his wife boarded a different cruise ship a couple of days before the Titanic set off. Archives have since unearthed a $300 check that was paid as a deposit for a stateroom on the Titanic. It looks like he really dodged a bullet there. Other famous people were J.P. Morgan and Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, both of whom went on different cruise ships, and avoided drowning or freezing to death.
The grandiose voyage of Titanic was unfortunately short-lived and came to a tragic end on April 15th, 1912. Even though the Titanic was given a warning about icebergs from other ships crossing the Northern Atlantic, the Titanic continued full speed ahead.
Its fast track is one of the mysteries that scholars and scientists are still confused by to this day. Because of the speed at which it was traveling, and the maneuver it did to try to avoid the iceberg, the Titanic scraped along the ice and destroyed 5 out of 16 watertight compartments. These compartments were, ironically, designed to hold water in case of a breach in the hull. However, there's new evidence that suggests that the hull was weakened before that due to a coal fire that was burning in the depths of the ship.
Unfortunately, there was absolutely no way the Titanic could have avoided crashing into that iceberg. Some researchers think that if the iceberg had been spotted just 30 seconds earlier than it was, then the ship might have had a better chance of surviving. That's because the iceberg was spotted when it was just 1,500 feet away from the Titanic.
The ship's course was instantly changed, but it wasn't soon enough to avoid hitting the ice. According to The Telegraph, the first officer who first spotted the iceberg hesitated before finally giving the order to go hard on starboard. That's because he truly believed that the cruise ship had enough time to steer clear and avoid the iceberg, but we all know how that ended.
In less than three hours, the Titanic was dragged to the bottom of the ocean, disappearing completely for over 70 years, until deep-sea divers discovered it in 1985. This started the journey of James Cameron's billion-dollar box office movie that brought Titanic to more generations.
The cruise ship was much more than just a tragedy, though - it was an ocean liner that represented the luxury of the time. The Titanic was a small city on the ocean, where everyone's needs were catered for. It makes us question: what would have happened if it never sank? Would the Titanic be as important and impactful as it does now? Or would it just be one page in a history book about the Edwardian era?
There was nothing like the Titanic, it was the first super cruise liner, and was given the nickname, 'Queen of the Ocean'. At the time, people said it was one of the wonders of the world! To say it was a big deal is an understatement.
The ship was so big that an entirely new shipyard was built, just so that the Titanic could be constructed. This became the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast and was the size of four city blocks. This site became the birthplace of the RMS Titanic and the RMS Olympic, its sister ship. Building ships of that size was risky and incredibly expensive.
The managing director and chairman of the White Star Line, J. Bruce Ismay felt under increasing pressure to make the cruise line company successful. The White Star Line was finding it hard to keep up with its competitors and were trying to survive after putting their money into transatlantic shipping.
Their main rival was the Cunard Line, who boasted about having the fastest ocean liner service in the world. Ismay was so angry because although the Cunard Line had speed, the White Star Line wanted to have size. Ismay had an enormous idea, but they came with drawbacks.
Thomas Andrews was the chief designer, and he oversaw both the construction and the design of the RMS Titanic. He made his plans for a very luxurious cruise ship, then got the news that no designer ever wants to hear, Ismay cut the budget.
Ismay was cutting corners everywhere, his company was going under and he wanted his gargantuan ship on the water as quickly as possible, costing as little as possible. Andrews told Ismay that there were certain things that couldn't be left out or reduced like the quality of the steel or the number of lifeboats. However, Ismay disregarded these concerns, and it resulted in catastrophe.
Aside from the budget concerns, the Titanic was faced with another complication running up to its completion: the country was subject to a tough coal strike. Hundreds of thousands of workers took industrial action during the National Coal Strike of 1912.
They went on strike because they were being paid unfair wages by the coal shareholders, and as coal stocks fell, their wages did, too. However, when the amount of coal stock increased, their wages didn't improve. Because of these labor problems, the White Star Line was under even more pressure, and it kept mounting.
It's definitely possible that the National Coal Strike of 1912 had a ripple effect that impacted the price of coal. That's because generally when there's a small supply and a big demand for a product, the market value increases. Ismay's budget was already incredibly tight, so further expenses led to disaster.
In 2017, the documentary, Titanic: The New Evidence suggested that fuel shortages were one of the contributing factors to the Titanic sinking. The documentary speculated that the only reason that the ship continued at full speed around the icebergs was that it had to converse its fuel. By slowing it down, and then speeding it up again, more fuel (coal) would be burned than if the ship maintained its speed. Basically, the ship was going fast because they didn't have enough coal to slow it down and then speed it up again, because of budget cuts.
Sadly, the budget cuts didn't just extend to the coal supply onboard… If you think of a banana, from the outside it looks like the skin is thick and strong enough to protect the fruit inside. The truth is that the skin is easy to peel, and really easy to crush. That's what the Titanic was like, it looked strong and sturdy, but it was internally weak. This was proven when the RMS Olympic crashed into the Royal Navy's HMS Hawk.
When this happened, the HMS Hawk left a huge hole in the Olympic's bow and created cracks much deeper than the puncture. That's because the steel wasn't of the highest quality. Engineers who examined the damage equated the faulty on the ship to building Fort Knox out of crepe paper: easy to tear. However, Ismay didn't seem too concerned, because when the steelworkers advised him that the best steel was 'special' he told them that the ordinary steel would be good enough. But this was nothing compared to what happened next.
Does this deluxe cruise ship sound luxurious? When you think that passengers got on board the ship without knowing that their safety was at risk, it sounds horrific. What's worse is that substandard materials used in its construction weren't the only problems.
In 2017, photographs of the Titanic before it set sail that had never been seen before were found in an attic. Senan Moloney, a Titanic expert, author, journalist and creator of Titanic: The New Evidence got to see the photos and said they were like King Tutankhamun's tomb. Steve Raffield, a Titanic enthusiast, owns the photos and while Moloney was speaking to him, he found something that could change the history of the Titanic.
Raffield bought the newly discovered photograph album, but he never anticipated finding a small anomaly that would change the Titanic's legacy. As he was flicking through the album, he saw something a bit strange in one of the pictures. When he first saw it, he thought it was some damage to the photo or reflective glare.
Raffield wanted to get a closer look, so he enlarged the photos and discovered that there was a scorch mark on the haul of the Titanic, and it was massive: 30 feet! He did the same with other photos and saw the same mark in the same spot and knew then that he had found something important. The mark was over the location of one of the boilers on the ship, so it was a burn from inside! What does that mean though?
The Titanic was huge, so it's not surprising that it had massive coal bunkers on board to store the enormous amount of coal the ship would need to run.
Titanic: The New Evidence states that the coal bunkers on board the Titanic were three stories high and held 1.5 tons of coal. That's not a problem though, but what was a problem is that while the coal was stored, something heated it up. That then sparked the coals and they caught fire, creating a huge fire inside the furnace: the Titanic was burning from the inside out.
You probably think that the fire was just a small setback, which was soon put out by Edwardian firemen before the ship set sail across the Atlantic, right? That if they didn't put it out it was both dangerous and incredibly unethical? Well, that's wrong.
The official inquiry in 1912 mentioned the fire, but nothing was done about it. John Dilley was a worker in the Titanic engine room at the time, and he saw first-hand the coal fire and he explained it all. He said that the engine room staff couldn't make any progress in putting the fire out and that the Titanic was on fire from the day it set sail.
There were eleven men trying to fight the fire in the coal bunker, but it wasn't enough. The fire kept burning, from its departure at the shipyard in Belfast, to the port in Southampton, where the Titanic welcomed more than 2,200 people on board, who were all ready to travel in style across the Atlantic Ocean.
None of the travelers had any idea that the ship was burning from the inside, because Ismay made sure that no one knew. He knew that his company and his personal reputation were both on the line and a fire could be the straw to break the camel's back. The fire kept pushing the launch date back, and then, finally, Ismay had had enough. Wealthy investors were growing frustrated with the long list of delays, and the last thing the White Star Line wanted was an excuse for their investors to take their money away. So, Ismay decided that the Titanic would set off on her maiden voyage on 10 April, 1912 - with a fire, or without.
Ismay was nervous because he had gambled a lot that his luxury cruise ship would be a huge success. He had spent a lot of money on luxurious interior design, and lavish and spacious rooms for first-class passengers. Ismay wanted to impress any potential investors with the materialistic luxuries on board.
As we mentioned, a first-class ticket for the Titanic cost up to $2,600 - close to $64,000 in today's money. That got passengers a three-bedroom suite that came with two dressing rooms, a bath, and a living room. Ismay didn't skimp on first-class food, either, and these passengers were his priority.
In 2012, a number of Titanic artifacts came up at auction, including a menu sold for over $160,000, a lunch menu for $102,000 and a dinner menu including a 12-course luncheon for $58,000. The menu had dishes like eggs stuffed with foie gras, turtle soup and a breed of chicken known as a Sussex capon.
According to the menu, there were ten courses on offer and included everything: oysters, salmon, lamb, duckling, chicken, and beef. So, it goes without saying that the wealthy dined in style. However, no matter how luxurious the menu and the accommodation was, nothing could really cover up the fire burning deep beneath the deck, and the heat was increasing.
Okay, a fire might not seem like a big deal, because really, how relevant is it to the ship sinking? Every story says that an iceberg made the ship sink, not a fire. This is true, an iceberg was the biggest reason the Titanic sank, but it is just one part of a really complex puzzle.
Senan Moloney wanted to find out how relevant it was, so he sought out to find an answer to 'what kind of damage could an internal fire do?' So, he found a consultant who would answer his question. That's where coal fire specialist, Guillermo Rein came in and gave him the harrowing truth. Rein said that the coal had been on fire for days before anyone even saw a flame, and he explained why.
Rein told Moloney that the coal could very possibly have been on fire for days, and heated up for weeks before the Titanic left Belfast to sail to Southampton. It doesn't take much to set coal ablaze, and when heat is trapped in a coal bed, it spreads and branches out until it starts smoking. So, it coal took fire quickly, but it might have taken days or even weeks for anyone to notice.
Then, once someone has spotted it, it's too late. When a fire starts burning, it's harder to put out. Not only that, but with such a huge amount of coal, the fire could have been burning anywhere between 1,000 and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is roughly the same temperature as molten lava. And that high a temperature can melt metal, including steel.
For a bit more perspective, let's look at what was going on beneath the decks of the Titanic. There was a fire burning between 1,000 and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit in the engine room, which is basically a metal bunker. That bunker is also one of the ship's bulkheads, which is a watertight compartment. The idea for a bulkhead is that if the ship did start taking on water, that the water would only fill inside the compartment.
However, when the fire is as hot as the ninth circle of hell, a la Dante's Inferno, it puts constant heat and pressure on the steel, making it brittle and weak. So, the metal will no longer be able to withstand impact and is prone to shatter. The bulkhead that was most damaged wasn't just any bulkhead, it was the last watertight compartment before the boiler room. So, if the fourth bulkhead on the way to the engine room got damaged, there was nothing left to protect the boiler. What the fire resulted in was disastrous.
When the Titanic set sail from Southampton, the coal bunker was still on fire. However, that fire was somewhat kept in control with shovels and manpower. Enough that the flames could be pushed back and repairs could be done.
The ever-burning fire had distorted the metal surrounding the boiler room's bulkhead. The metal resembled a buckled wave, and even worse, there was a hole in the welding seam of the watertight compartment. All the engine crew could do now was patch it up, cross their fingers and hope they could bring the Titanic to land.
There was nothing the firemen and engine room workers could do to dampen the fire except shovel the coal away, but where do you shovel it to? The only place to put it was into the furnaces!
Because everyone thought the Titanic was low on fuel, feeding the furnace was necessary until the ship was going at top speed. That's because slowing down and speeding up the chip would burn more coal than keeping it as a constant speed would. So, with the furnaces burning hotter than hell, the shop was speeding across the Atlantic and right into a field of icebergs at a top speed of 23 knots (26 miles per hour).
Despite hearing multiple warnings of icebergs close by, the navigation crew didn't want to stop the ship in case they didn't have enough fuel to start it up again, and they'd be stranded in the middle of the ocean. There is a lot of speculation that Captain Edward John Smith was put under pressure to keep the ship traveling at top speed.
The speed with which the ship was traveling left the captain with two options. The first was to ignore the iceberg warning and hope his crew could avoid the iceberg. The second was risk slowing down and burning through the Titanic's coal reserves. Neither option was great, but the rest is history.
Disaster eventually struck on 14 April, 1912, when the Titanic crashed into an iceberg, 400 miles from the coast of Newfoundland. The ship had been completely submerged underwater way too fast, in just two hours and forty minutes. And of the 2,200 people on board, only 706 people survived.
There could be a very good reason for this, and that's the fire. The iceberg hit the starboard side of the ship, and then scraped fully along the hull (the watertight bit of the boat). This had already been weakened by the fire, and so it ripped apart like tissue paper and the compartments quickly filled up with water and the bow of the ship was then full of water. At the start, the compartments were doing okay and survived, but that didn't last.
The fourth compartment started to grunt under the weight of the water of the ocean, as the water added more pressure to the brittle steel. This was the only barrier left before the water would get into the engine room.
The patch lasted as long as it could, but just like a car bumper that's duct-taped on, it wasn't designed to take a huge amount of stress. Eventually, surrounded by foam, the water made it through the final barrier of the ship's walls and the ocean began to flow through the engine room.
Moloney thinks that if the bulkhead hadn't been weakened by the fire, then the Titanic might have stayed above water for double the amount of time. This would have given them enough time to send out an SOS call to the RMS Carpathia.
Over 1,000 lives could have been saved and those people could have lived happily into their old age. Unfortunately, we know that this didn't happen at all. The world was shocked as news started to spread the largest, strongest ship in the world had sunk. And, one of the lucky ones left alive was the man who arguably caused the disaster to happen, J. Bruce Ismay.
If you're wondering what Ismay did just after surviving the traumatic event, it was to send a telegram. Just after the Titanic sank, a private investigation, known as an inquiry was held.
Ismay was terrified of the implications of the inquiry, so he sent a telegram that told all the firemen who worked on the Titanic to scatter. He told them that they didn't need to be around for the inquiry. While Ismay was on trial, he claimed that the firemen all died in the tragedy. The telegram was then shown, but what came next was more disturbing.
John Charles Bigham, Lord Mersey, was the high court judge who was ruling over the inquiry. When evidence was brought to the court that a coal fire was raging beneath the decks of the Titanic, Lord Mersey disregarded it as irrelevant. The court notes also recorded that he looked impatient during the trial, and just wanted the investigation to end.
Later, it transpired that even though 160 firemen were hired to work on the Titanic's maiden voyage, only 8 of them stayed onboard. These men saw the fire in the engine room, turned around and said, 'nope, not today'. However, Mersey still dismissed any evidence of a fire and his ruling was incredibly frustrating.
When the inquiry came to an end, Lord Mersey closed the case and said the Titanic sank was accidental, caused by crashing into an iceberg while traveling at an excessive speed. The inquiry was finished and it the story of the Titanic was now set for the rest of the twentieth century.
However, the previously undiscovered photographs were unearthed. After reading all the evidence submitted to the court of the fire, the cuts to the budget and all the events leading up to the collision and sinking of the Titanic, Moloney was baffled. He then wondered why such important details were left out of the Titanic's sinking, and wondered if they answered the questions about the mysteries of the ship.
It's very odd and slightly suspicious that evidence of the coal fire was overlooked during the trial. It's a bit convenient that Ismay wasn't deemed responsible for the fire, even though it was most likely a contributing factor to the Titanic sinking.
The event was still ruled 'accidental' and the case was dropped, but there were repercussions for the White Star Line. The majority of the survivors were first-class passengers, and most of them sought compensation for the loss of their property. Charlotte Drake Cardeza was one such passenger, and she claimed the loss of her wardrobe, which she estimated to be worth close to $180,000, or $4.2 million today. So, there was some justice served.
J. Bruce Ismay was so afraid that the White Star Line would go bankrupt that he risked the lives of over 2,200 passengers: men, women and children, all for the sake of money. He caused his ship and passengers to be vulnerable, not just to fire but to the ocean as well. However, it was not only his decision to cut the number of lifeboats available that impacted passengers' lives.
However, it was not only his decision to cut the number of lifeboats available that impacted the passengers' lives. If the staff of the boat had followed the procedures correctly, many more lives could have been saved. Indeed, Titanic survivor Molly Brown shared in her testimony that, despite the lifeboat's capacity being 65, only 27 people climbed aboard.
The ship was destined to fail from the very start when the RMS Olympic collided with the HMS Hawk. The damage caused should have been a warning of the dangers to come, and the testimonies and witness accounts should have been enough to send the Titanic back to the part for proper repairs to be done.
The White Star Line took a gamble and lost the best, really badly. Historians nowadays are still looking at the new evidence unearthed in Steve Raffield's photo album. Something good did come out of the tragedy though, and there are strict laws and statutes in place now for cruise ships to follow.
Maritime safety laws have seen huge changes in the years after the Titanic sank and one of these laws was a rigorous ice patrol schedule in the North Atlantic Ocean.
There were also rules about onboard radios introduced because the Titanic used Morse code to communicate with nearby vessels, and now standing crews on ships have to monitor the onboard radios in case of emergency signals. In 1914, two years after the Titanic tragedy the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea was founded. This created one single, global maritime standard. Then, in 1915, it was made a law that every passenger ship had to have enough lifeboats for all their passengers.
The Titanic sinking was a horrific and tragic event that caused over a thousand people to lose their lives, many of whom were immigrants en route to what they hoped would be a better life in America.
This doesn't make the tragedy any easier to understand. We can't change what happened, but we can learn from what happened. We can take history and use it as a reminder of past consequences and constantly seek improvement.