Ocean Passenger Travel - The Speed of the 1890 Steamships
To each class of passengers is furnished its own bath-rooms, smoking-room, saloon, and dining-room. The is so divided that the third-class passengers are not only away forward, but aft also ; and they have the whole of one deck to themselves for promenading and getting glimpses of ocean views.
These are features that apply to so many of the best steamships now plying between New York and European ports that it would be unjust to describe any one ship as against another, but as the City of New York has made the highest average speed of all the Atlantic " greyhounds," and for that matter the highest average speed of any steamship in the world, it is but fair to mention her wonderful performance.
The Pilot (or Captain) boarding ship circa 1890
During the year 1890 she made eight trips to the eastward, and the average of each trip from Sandy Hook Lightship to Roche's Point, Queenstown Harbor, was six days, four hours, and five minutes ; the average of her eight trips to the westward from Roche's Point to Sandy Hook Lightship was six days, five hours, and forty-four minutes. On the four trips each way from August to November, inclusive, her average west-bound voyages were six days and forty-two minutes, and the east-bound voyages six days and fifty-three minutes.
For the whole season on her trips to the eastward she averaged 19.12 knots per hour, and to the westward 18.91 knots per hour. She has made a slightly better average than her sister, the favorite City of Paris, and she beat her powerful rival, the Teutonic, seven times out of ten during the past season.
The fastest westward trip on record is that of the City of Paris, her time of 5 days, 19 hours, and 18 minutes being undisputed. Her best eastward trip was made in 5 days, 22 hours, and 50 minutes, which is also the fastest trip on record to the eastward.
The lowest time claimed for the Teutonic, on a westward trip, is 5 days, 19 hours, and 5 minutes, but this record is in dispute, as there is a discrepancy of 55 minutes in the time of her arrival at Sandy Hook Lightship as shown by her log, and that given by the marine observers both at the Highlands of Nave-sink and Sandy Hook ; there is also a difference of 28 minutes in her leaving time from Roche's Point between the time shown by her log and the reported time by the Associated Press observer, which adds one hour and twenty-three minutes to the record claimed for her. Her fastest eastward voyage was made in 5 days, 23 hours, and 34 minutes.
The City of New York has made the westward voyage in 5 days, 21 hours, and 19 minutes ; she made the eastward voyage in 5 days, 23 hours, and 14 minutes.
The Majestic's fastest westward trip was 5 days, 21 hours, and 20 minutes ; and her fastest trip to the eastward was 5 days, 23 hours, and 16 minutes. The Etruria has a record to the westward of 6 days, 1 hour, and 50 minutes ; and to the eastward of 6 days, 5 hours, and 18 minutes. The Umbria's record to the westward is 6 days, 4 hours, and 20 minutes ; and her eastward record is 6 days, 3 hours, and 17 minutes.
The trips of these six vessels are measured between Sandy Hook Lightship and Roche's Point, the entrance to Queenstown Harbor ; the North-German Lloyd Line and the Hamburg-American measure the trips between Sandy Hook Lightship and the Needles, near Southampton.
The Columbia has made the journey eastward in 6 days, 15 hours ; and to the westward in 6 days, 16 hours, and 2 minutes. The Normannia has made the eastward trip in 6 days, 17 hours, and 20 minutes ; and to the westward in 6 days, 17 hours, and 2 minutes. The record of the Augusta Victoria is, eastward, 6 days, 22 hours, and 32 minutes ; westward, 6 days, 22 hours, and 40 minutes.
The new steamship Spree, of the North German Lloyd Line, made the trip to the eastward in 6 days and 22 hours, on her third trip across the Atlantic ; and the Lahn, of the same line, has a record to the eastward of 6 days, 22 hours, and 42 minutes.
The fast ships of several lines now make a seven-days' journey from port to port ; these lines are the Cunard, Inman, White Star, North German Lloyd, Hamburg-American, French, Guion, and Anchor. Their vessels are well fitted, the passengers find every convenience at hand, and, barring extremely bad weather, the traveler may imagine that he is confined but a few days to a first-rate hotel on land. Nevertheless it may be worth while to mention one or two comparatively minor features that have been introduced lately to make the journey to Europe comfortable. It is now possible to have your trunks checked at your house for delivery in London, although the steamship may terminate its journey at Liverpool.
This service naturally calls for a small extra fee, but it is hardly more than would be charged by an expressman who would take your trunks to the dock where the steamship lies awaiting your departure. It is quite the custom now, also, for steamship companies to issue letters of credit to passengers, who, for one reason or another, may not care to deposit their moneys with the banking houses.
On one line, at least, passengers can rent steamer-chairs previous to sailing at fifty cents each for the trip, and when they arrive on board they simply apply to the deck-steward for their chairs. At the offices of all the principal lines steamer-chairs may be engaged at the time tickets are procured, but the price charged for the trip is one dollar ; the enterprise being managed by an independent concern who have obtained the privilege from the different lines.
Every traveler may have at least one interesting souvenir of the voyage across the Atlantic. The names of the passengers, and in some cases their home addresses, are neatly printed upon folios along with a blank chart for recording the progress of the voyage, and more or less information about the company, the vessel, and the fleet of which it is a member.
A sufficient number of these passenger lists are printed to assure one at least for every cabin passenger, and the lists are usually distributed in the saloon soon after the vessel leaves her dock. They are not only prized as souvenirs, but they are invaluable in assisting one to make acquaintances—or avoid them, for that matter.
It is the custom of some of the lines to distribute passenger lists at the gang-plank just previous to the sailing of the vessel, so that friends of passengers may carry away a token of the great journey, and speculate as to how companionable this or another person will prove to the party in which they are especially interested.
On nearly all the larger vessels there is a miniature newspaper printed by the ship's printer, which gives the usual amount of " local " gossip and happenings peculiar to the surroundings ; articles are contributed by the passengers, and sometimes there is a good deal of talent on board. Reports of concerts and domestic entertainments, etc., are given.
Rivalry between the various lines has led to the establishment of agencies in various parts of this country and Europe. Abroad the agents seek mainly, if not exclusively, to induce emigration. In this country the agents deal almost exclusively with those to whom travel has become a well-earned luxury. The central point of agencies is in Chicago.
The agents there control the territory west of Chicago, and are in constant communication with the head-offices in New York, and they have their subagents scattered about everywhere, but especially in the Northwest. The New York offices are promptly informed by the Chicago agents concerning the number of people booked for certain steamships, and the chief stewards make provision accordingly.
Before showing how the steward has to provide for his passengers, it will be interesting to note, as well as may be, the increase in transatlantic voyaging. Exact records of cabin passengers have not been kept until within a few years ; but it will be remembered that in the time of the clipper ships not more than ten first-cabin passengers were expected on any one ship.
As it is now, the different steamship lines entering the port of New York employ several men to look after the landing of passengers. Their duties are mainly directed to people ; but recently they have also kept records of those who come over in either first or second class. From these records, kept in the Barge Office in New York City, it appears that ocean travel varies according to the business situation in this country.
Ocean Passenger Travel - 1891
- Chapter 1: Overview of Transatlantic Travel
- Chapter 2: Room on the Early Steamers
- Chapter 3: The Collins Line, The Inman Company, Beginnings of the White Star Line
- Chapter 4: The Speed of the 1890 Steamships
- Chapter 5: Transatlantic Passengers and the Buildup of Fleets
- Chapter 6: Provisions and Meals on an 1890s Ocean Liner
- Chapter 7: Procedures for processing Immigrants onboard Steamships
- Chapter 8: The Importance of the Immigrant Trade