First class facilities of the RMS Titanic
||This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the French Wikipedia. (August 2012)|
The RMS Titanic had extensive facilities for first-class passengers
The first-class passengers of the Titanic were placed in the central part of the ship where the vibrations and roll of the ship are at their lowest. Many of the first class facilities were located on A Deck. But the first class rooms were located from E Deck up.
Sporting and relaxation facilities
The Titanic featured numerous sporting and relaxation facilities including:
- A gymnasium including a punch bag, a rowing machine, and exercise bikes
- Turkish baths, electric baths, and steam room
- Private massage room
- 10 m by 4.30 m swimming pool with diving board, the largest pool on any ship at that time
- Squash court
Cafés and restaurants
À la Carte Restaurant
The À la Carte Restaurant was a luxurious restaurant open exclusively to first-class passengers. The restaurant, which was the preferred alternative to the main dining saloon, gave passengers the option of enjoying lavish meals at an additional cost. Unlike the main dining saloon, the restaurant gave passengers the freedom to eat whenever they liked (between 8 am and 11 pm). The restaurant was not managed by the White Star Line; Luigi Gatti ran it as a concession and his staff were not part of the regular crew.
The restaurant was decorated in the Louis XVI style and lit by picture windows. Axminster carpets covered the floors and small tables, which accommodated two to eight people, were set with porcelain plates and lit by crystal lamps. The À la Carte Restaurant provided the most intimate atmosphere on board. In fact, half of the tables in the restaurant catered for two people, whereas very few of such tables were offered in the main dining saloon.
"It was the last word in luxury. The tables were gay with pink roses and white daisies […] the stringed orchestra playing music from Puccini and Tchaikovsky. The food was superb: caviar, lobster, quail from Egypt, plovers' eggs, and hothouse grapes and fresh peaches".
The restaurant had its own reception room located next to the aft grand staircase on B Deck. The first-class reception room was decorated in the Georgian style: armchairs and settees were draped in carmine-coloured silk; and a space was reserved for the orchestra. This room allowed passengers to gather together before and after their meals.
On D Deck, there was an enormous first-class dining saloon, measuring 1,000 m2, which accommodated up to 554 passengers. In total, there were 115 tables, set for 2 to 12 people. Children were allowed to eat here with their parents, as long as the dining saloon was not fully booked.
The dining saloon was decorated in wooden panelling, painted white, and the floors were covered in blue linoleum tiles, featuring an elaborate red and yellow pattern. The room’s portholes were elegantly concealed by inner leaded-glass windows, giving passengers the impression that they were eating onshore instead of at sea. For even more atmosphere, the windows were lit from behind during the evening meals. The dining saloon’s meals were prepared in the kitchen next door, which also serviced the second-class dining saloon, similarly located on D Deck. Also, the tables had fresh, silky shade lamps fitted onto the linen covered tables passengers could look at while dining.
The dining saloon was open between 1 to 2:30 pm for lunch, and between 6 to 7:30 pm for dinner. Passengers were alerted to when meals were being served by the ship’s bugler, Peter W. Fletcher, playing The Roast Beef of Old England. On Sundays, the dining saloon was also used for the Anglican Church service, which was conducted by the captain or, in his absence, by a minister traveling in first class. The service was accompanied by a quintet, which included a piano. Contrary to what has often been portrayed in films, the orchestra did not play during meals.
The Verandah Café (also known as Palm Court) was divided into two rooms, located on both sides of the second-class staircase, on A Deck. Reminiscent of an outdoor sidewalk café, its rooms were brightly lit by large windows and double sliding doors that opened onto the first-class Promenade Deck. The café was elegantly furnished with wicker tables and chairs, spread out across a checkerboard tiled floor. Various outdoor plants filled the rooms, including potted palm trees and ivy-covered trellises. First-class passengers could enjoy a selection of refreshments in the café. Also, the tables were fitted with yellow flowers in crystal clear glass vases which the passengers looked at during dining.
The Verandah Café had both smoking and non-smoking sections. The smoking section, located on the port side, was accessible from the first-class smoking room. The non-smoking section, located on the starboard side, was used as a play area by mothers and children. To note, no such official area existed on board. Contrary to the Titanic's, the Olympic’s non-smoking section was frequently deserted.
The Verandah Café was similar in style on both the Olympic and the Titanic. While there are many photos of the Olympic’s café, only one photo of the Titanic’s remains today.
The Café Parisien was a new feature on the Titanic, designed to replace part of the Olympic’s Promenade Deck that was rarely used. Located on the starboard side on B Deck, the café was connected to the À la Carte Restaurant.
Like the restaurant, the Café Parisien was open from 8:00 am to 11:00 pm and shared the same menu and servers. The café was furnished with wicker tables and chairs, accommodating up to 68 passengers, and was decorated in ivy-covered trellises and other climbing plants. The Café Parisien was most popular among young adults.
In 1912, the British magazine The Shipbuilder gave the following description of the café:
"...a Café Parisien, which is an entirely new feature on board ship, has been arranged in connection with the restaurant, and here lunches and dinners can be served under the same excellent conditions and with all the advantages of the restaurant itself...it will be seen that this café has the appearance of a charming sun-lit verandah, tastefully decorated in French trellis-work with ivy and other creeping plants, and is provided with small groups of chairs surrounding convenient tables."
There were many other venues that could be visited by first-class passengers, including:
- Reception area
- Smoking room (men only)
- Reading room
- Grand staircase
The first-class passengers could enjoy a Georgian style smoking room, found in the back of A Deck. In keeping with social conventions of the time, the room was exclusive to men. In order to recreate the same atmosphere of a gentlemen’s club, the room was decorated with dark mahogany panelling inlaid with mother-of-pearl, numerous stained-glass windows, and alcoves.
The floor was laid with blue and red linoleum tiles. In the center of the far-back wall was a Norman Wilkinson painting, Plymouth Harbour, which hung over the fireplace. This was the only real fireplace on board: the others used electricity. The furniture was upholstered in leather, of an unknown colour (probably green or burgundy).
The room was accessible from the aft grand staircase, and to the right of the fireplace was a revolving door which lead to the Verandah Café. The room was U-shaped in order to permit the smoke from the fireplace to be vented out. This area also included bathrooms.
The smoking room was the preferred spot of gamblers who crossed the Atlantic. Professional card sharps also travelled on board under aliases, and the purser could do nothing but warn passengers about these swindlers, since passengers played at their own risk. At least four professional players travelled on board the Titanic. Cigars and drinks could be made available upon request of the passengers, and were provided by the stewards of the adjacent bar.
The first-class dining saloon of the Titanic was connected to a large reception hall, measuring 460 m2 (4,951 sq ft), located at the foot of the fore grand staircase on D Deck. An ornate candelabra rested on the middle railing at the base of the stairs. The hall was also close to two halls (one on each side of the ship) that were intended to accommodate part of the first-class passengers upon boarding. It was decorated in the Jacobean style and its walls were white and embellished with mouldings; the floor was covered with thick, colourful, wall-to-wall carpeting. An imposing Aubusson tapestry, La Chasse du duc de Guise, hung in front of the staircase. On the wall close to the tapestry were letters indicating the name of the deck.
The hall had numerous wicker chairs and tables, and could hold up to 600 people. In fact, it was recorded on the inaugural voyage of the Olympic, whose reception hall was slightly smaller, the room quickly filled up after dinner. On the starboard side, there was an area reserved for a quintet and it held a Steinway grand piano.
The hall was open to passengers before and after meals. Here, the orchestra played from 4 to 5 pm while tea was served, then after dinner, from 8 to 9:15 pm. Stewards served liquor and cigars until 11 pm, at which time the hall closed. Generally, there were many spectators in the hall while the orchestra played. Then, the passengers returned to the other rooms in the ship.
The Grand Staircase of the RMS Titanic was one of the most notable first class features aboard. It extended down from the boat deck, down to E-Deck where the landing down to F-Deck was down to an ordinary small mid landing stairwell. The top fitted a circular, roof headed dome to let light in through the first class areas. Above the mid landing, on the boat deck level forward wall, was placed a carved grandfather clock representing Honor and Glory Crowning Time. On A-Deck level, on the mid rail, rested a bronze brown cherub holding a lamp. On D-Deck, there was a stand or some safe-like object, also on top of the mid rail, that held the ornate reception room candelabra. Behind the staircase led the 3 running first class elevators going from E-Deck to A-Deck. A mirror and a chair was in each of those lifts.
The Grand Staircase was so grand that some people nicknamed it the staircase to heaven. The piano on the boat deck level led a musician that played it during the evenings on both Titanic and Olympic.
There were also a number of stairwell posts that helped keep the stairwell sturdy and beautiful. In the 1997 movie "Titanic" John Jacob Astor holds onto one as he dies in the sinking.
Many people after dinner strolled up these steps to the boat deck or commented to crew of how well they did on the ship and how beautiful it was. Except this was not the only "Grand Staircase for first class" on the Titanic; another twin staircase for first class, far aft after the third funnel, had kind of the same beauty. Except that the cherub was a bit petite, the clock was not as ornate as the forward first class stairs, and it only extended from A-Deck to C-Deck. There were also no elevators for passengers for this stairwell, so the weathy and rich who wanted to use the lifts or disabled first class passengers had to travel back to the front to use them.
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- (Bruce Beveridge 2009, p. 286)
- Louis XVI style
- (Mark Chimside 2004, p. 51)
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