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The Introduction of First Class Accommodations on Cunard Steamships

The Story of the Cunard Line

The next additions to the Cunard fleet were the Catalonia, Pavonia and Cephalonia, which were placed upon the Boston service, and then, in 1883, came a new type of vessel in the Aurania, which, while 45 feet shorter than the Servia, was five feet wider in the beam -- a circumstance which enabled material improvements to be introduced in the accommodation for first-class passengers.

This same year saw the launching for another Atlantic line at the yard of Messrs. John Elder & Co., at Glasgow, of the Oregon, whose compound, direct-acting inverted engines developed 13,500 indicated horse power, and enabled a speed of 18 knots to be attained. This sensational result immediately led the directors of the Cunard Line to order from the same builders two new vessels, which, while incorporating the best features of the Oregon, had others of their own, which, together, made the Umbria and Etruria, illustrated below, the fastest and finest ships then afloat.

With gross register of 8,127 tons, and engines indicating 14,500 horse power, a speed of 20 knots was secured. The Etruria, in its time, held the Atlantic record for speed, having accomplished the western passage in 5 days 20 hours and 55 minutes, and the eastern passage in 6 days 37 minutes.

The Cunard Steamers The Umbria and the Etruria

The Cunard Steamers The Umbria and the Etruria

But the Cunard had not yet reached the acme of its Trans-Atlantic ambition. In 1892 was launched the Campania, and in 1893 the Lucania, which mighty sister vessels are the fastest yet produced from British shipyards. The dimensions of the Campania (Illistrated Below), which in every essential particular apply also to the Lucania, are these : length over all, 622 feet 6 inches ; extreme breadth, 65 feet 3 inches ; depth from upper deck, 43 feet ; and gross tonnage, 12,950 tons.

The Saloon Promenade of the Steamships Campania and the Lucania.

The Saloon Promenade of the Steamships Campania and the Lucania.

The vessel has, to quote technical detail, " a straight stem and elliptical stern, top-gallant forecastle and poop, with close bulwarks all fore and aft, the erections above the upper deck consisting of two tiers of deck houses, surmounted respectively by the promenade and shade decks. She appears in fore and aft rig, with two pole masts." In her construction the greatest care had to be observed to maintain the requisite strength throughout the entire structure, and every advantage was taken of improved sections of steel so as to secure the maximum of strength without unduly increasing the total weight.

The Building of the Cunard Steamship Campania.  The Vessel's Skeleton Framework is Shown.

The Building of the Cunard Steamship Campania. The Vessel's Skeleton Framework is Shown.

There are sixteen bulkheads in the vessel, and she is capable of floating if any two, or in some cases three, are open to the sea. The decks have been strengthened to enable them to carry guns, and in other particulars the Campania complies with the requirements of the Admiralty as regards armed cruisers for service in time of war.

The vital parts of the ship are adequately protected ; the steering is of a special type and is under the water line, as are also the rudder arrangements. There are four complete decks--the upper, main, lower and orlop--the first three being entirely devoted to passenger accommodation, and the last to cargo, refrigeration chambers, storage purposes, etc.

The Grand Dining Salon of the Cunard Steamships Campania and the Lucania.

The Grand Dining Salon of the Cunard Steamships Campania and the Lucania.

The Grand Dining Saloon of the Cunarders Campania and the Lucania Showing the Interior of the Dome.

The Grand Dining Saloon of the Cunarders Campania and the Lucania Showing the Interior of the Dome.

The entire internal equipment has been based on lines calculated to promote the safety, comfort and enjoyment of ocean travel. For example, the casings round the boiler rooms are double, the intervening spaces being filled with material which is a non-conductor both of heat and sound.

The ventilation arrangements, both natural and artificial, are of the most complete description, as is also the sanitary equipment, while the " living " spaces are warmed by a system of steam-heated pipes. The electric lighting installation, by Messrs. Siemens & Co., is on a most elaborate scale, there being four sets of generating plant, capable of supplying 1,350 16-candle power incandescent lights, besides a powerful search-light. No fewer than 40 miles of wire run through the ship.

The furnishings and decorations of the interior of the Campania are of the most sumptuous and luxurious description, having gained for the vessel its reputation for being the most palatial and magnificent in the world. Some idea of the splendor of the appointments may be gained from the illustrations. The first-class dining saloon, illustrated above, which will seat 430 passengers at table, is a superb hall 100 feet long by 63 feet broad.

The general effect of the dark rich mahogany walls, the graceful arches, and the paneled ceiling in white and gold, surmounted by a great crystal dome (shown at right), rising through the two decks above to a height of 33 feet, and the dark russet velvet upholstery, is most impressive, and suggests a palatial structure on terra firma rather than a floating temple of luxury.

The drawing room on the promenade deck (illustrated below) is another sumptuously-appointed apartment in the Renaissance style, its appointments including a fine organ and grand piano.

The Drawing Room of the Cunard Steamships Campania and the Lucania.

The Drawing Room of the Cunard Steamships Campania and the Lucania.

The smoking room (below) is furnished in the Elizabethan style, and is a most popular retreat amongst the " mere men."

The First Class Smoking Room of the Cunard Steamship Campania As It Appeared Previous to Refurbishing.

The First Class Smoking Room of the Cunard Steamship Campania As It Appeared Previous to Refurbishing.

The library (below) is another elegant and appropriately-appointed apartment, and the main staircase and the grand entrance thereto may also be cited as examples of the lavish scale of the general decorative scheme, of the details of which considerations of space forbid more exhaustive description.

The Library of the Steamers Campania and the Lucania.

The Library of the Steamers Campania and the Lucania.

The saloon accommodation on the Campania is situated amidships, the second-class cabins aft, and the third-class accommodation forward. Then there are some eighty-five second-class state rooms of various sizes, besides a handsome dining saloon, an adequately-furnished drawing room, and a comfortable smoking room. Of this accommodation, as well as that which is devoted to the third-class passengers, which is in every respect excellent, and an immense improvement on the sort of thing which constituted the " steerage " of earlier days, several illustrations are given on page 25, which speak for themselves.

The Story of the Cunard Line : Steamship Line History (1902)

 

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