What was life like on board Titanic?

Titanic carried over 2,200 people on its maiden voyage, but it was only half full when it set sail. People were travelling for lots of different reasons. Businessmen needed to make important deals, holidaymakers travelled for leisure and some people just wanted to experience life on board the world's biggest and most luxurious ship. A lot of families were travelling to make a better life for themselves in America.

At the time of Titanic’s maiden voyage, it was common for full passenger lists of transatlantic ships to be published in the local newspapers. Many of the passengers saw it as something to be proud of, a bit like looking for your photo in the paper these days.

Who travelled on Titanic?

First class passengers were some of the richest and most important people of the time. They included businessmen like John Jacob Astor IV and Benjamin Guggenheim, as well as members of the upper classes and even sportsmen.

Many of the second class passengers were tourists, made up of professions such as teachers and clergy. A team from Harland and Wolff travelled as second class passengers alongside some staff of the first class passengers, like chauffeurs or nannies.

The passengers in third class were mainly immigrants heading for a new life in America. They came from a variety of locations across Europe such as Ireland, England, Scandinavia and Jewish migrants from Eastern Europe. A significant number also came from Lebanon.

John Jacob Astor IV
John Jacob Astor IV, who traveled on Titanic, was one of the richest people in the world.

Passengers on Titanic came from many different backgrounds and had different reasons for travelling. Do you know who travelled in which class?

Find out what life was like on board Titanic.

First class

First class on board Titanic was the ultimate in luxury. It included veranda cafes, a smoking room, restaurant, a dining saloon and a reading and writing room. The facilities on Titanic far surpassed those of rival ships of that time.

The first class passengers really dined in style. The dining room was the largest ever seen on a ship and a live orchestra played background music. The furniture and panelling was carved in fine detail in oak, mahogany and sycamore.

The more energetic passengers could play deck games, such as shuffleboard, and use the gym, squash courts and swimming pool on board. Games such as chess and backgammon could be played on the deck.

Titanic had 39 private suites located at the top of the ship. They had 2 large bedrooms, 2 walk-in wardrobes and a bathroom. There was also a spacious living with room for guests. Suites cost up to £870 which is the equivalent of £79,000 today!

Animated image of two businessmen shaking hands

Second class

Most of the second class accommodation on Titanic consisted of cabins with bunk-beds. Each cabin had either two beds or four and in total there was room for around 550 passengers. These cabins didn’t have private bathrooms, but inside there were sinks and mirrors and the bed linen was changed every day.

Passengers in second class had facilities such as a spacious outdoor promenade, a smoking room, a library and dining room. Afternoon tea and coffee was served in the library.

The dining room could seat almost 2,400 people at one time and a pianist would entertain the diners. All of the furniture was mahogany with crimson red upholstery and pivoted lights to add to the atmosphere.

Animated image of a female passenger waving at the side of the Titanic

Third class

Third class was much more basic with very few facilities, but passengers still enjoyed a high level of luxury compared to other liners of the day.

The general room was where most passengers gathered, talked and socialised. There was a piano for passengers to make their own music in the evenings. There was also a male-only smoke room which was panelled and furnished in oak with teak furniture.

Third class passengers ate in their own dining room which could seat around 470 passengers in 3 sittings. The food was very simple but plentiful consisting of rice soup, biscuits, roast beef and fruit. On most other ships, third class passengers were expected to bring their own food which was supposed to last for the entire journey.

With over 1000 third class passengers on board, accommodation was basic. Cabins slept up to 10 people and were located at the noisy bottom part of the ship close to the engines. Single men and women were split up at the front and back with families in the middle. There were only two baths for everyone in third class!

Animated image of a third class passenger of the Titanic waving the USA flag
Animated image of a boat out at sea