Contact the GG Archives

Atlanta, Georgia USA

Steamship Tickets: Everything You Need To Know

Example of a Steamship Ticket


The immense and ever-increasing traffic between the United States and Europe has created demands for steamship lines going to all the principal ports of Great Britain and the Continent, likewise a scale of prices which grows yearly more extended.

There is a wide choice between the palatial fast steamer sailing from New York and the small ship considered in former years an example of elegance and rapidity, but today relegated to lines sailing from Philadelphia or Boston for the accommodation of passengers who desire cheaper rates.

The best-known agents are prepared to furnish all manner of information about the rates and accommodations of various steamships. The tour which the prospective traveler has planned should be a strong influence in the choice of his steamer.

It is most advisable to sail directly to some port in the country where the tour is to begin. Such a choice will be found not only more economical but more desirable than that of taking passage to England and then crossing the uncomfortable and wayward Channel for the Continent.

The great fast steamers are by no means always the most comfortable conveyances for crossing the ocean on a pleasure trip. They are usually overcrowded during the busy season, and, unless the tourist is exceedingly pressed for time, their speed does not offer sufficient compensation for other annoyances.

The fact that the slower boats are more and more patronized by those to whom additional expense is no object is a sign of the popularity of these comfortable steamers.

All of the ships which have been built in recent years are fitted with the steadying double keels, but the very fast steamers carry such large engines that while these keels obviate the rolling and pitching, the vibration continues and is extremely unpleasant. The slower ships with engines of lesser size and power are by far the steadier.

The fast steamers charging the highest prices for their accommodations find it impossible to take as good care of the vast number of their patrons as the lines which have limited passenger room.

On these great floating hotels, where there are sometimes eight hundred passengers, the decks are frequently so crowded by chairs that three or four tightly packed rows fill and obstruct all but a narrow passageway. The stewards are so busy that they cannot, with the best intention in the world, give proper attention to those who need their care.

The freight and transport lines and those who carry a limited number of passengers offer ampler deck room. These ships are highly recommended for those crossing the ocean on a pleasure trip.

On every line, there are certain ships more desirable than others, and therefore the selection should be made with great care. Tastes differ so widely among men and women that it is challenging to depend upon the judgment of one's friends.

Still, private opinion is frequently of more value than the recommendation of the best-intentioned agent who, with thousands of questions to answer, finds it almost impossible to do the right thing or to give the correct advice to people whose private likes and dislikes he cannot possibly have any way of determining.


When the stateroom has been selected, purchasing a return ticket should be seriously considered. Unless the stay abroad is to be indefinite, and there is some other strong reason for hesitation, it is a wise precaution to secure in advance a desirable stateroom.

Should a tourist afterward decide to prolong his stay in Europe, he will find the company from whom he has bought return tickets only too willing to exchange these and give the holder of such tickets the first chance for the best stateroom available at the rate paid.

When buying tickets at any steamship office a deposit of $25 is required, the lest of the passage money to be paid three weeks before sailing; a return ticket must be paid for in full. There is sometimes a reduction of ten percent on the return portion of the ticket, but in the busy season, only a few lines grant this rebate.

If no stateroom is engaged, a tourist who buys a return ticket on any one of those lines in the Steamship Combination (listed at the end of this article) has a choice of returning when he is prepared to do so by any ship belonging to the list printed on his ticket.

If he chooses a stateroom of a higher price than that for which he paid at the time of buying his ticket, he will be obliged to make up the difference. On the other hand, if he selects a cheaper cabin, the extra amount paid will be refunded to him.


Example of a Steamship Ticket and Contract for Passage

It is a document of paper bearing the name of the line for which it is purchased. On it is a printed agreement to transport the passenger according to the rules of the company, on which is noted the name of the ship, the number of the cabin and the berth.

When a return ticket has been purchased, that fact, together with either the ship or names of the several lines on which the passenger is permitted to return, is also mentioned. After the steward has collected the document, another ticket is made out by the purser and returned to the passenger.

The following are the lines in the Combination (a.k.a. International Mercantile Marine Company (IMM))

  1. American Line
  2. Atlantic Transport Line
  3. Dominion Line
  4. Leyland Line
  5. Red Star Line
  6. White Star Line

Josephine Tozier, Compiler, “Section II: Taking Passage.” In The Travelers’ Handbook: A Manual For Transatlantic Tourists, New York and London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1905, Page  29-34. Images from the GG Archives Immigration Collection.

Return to Top of Page

Immigrant Passage Contracts & Tickets
GG Archives

Passage Contracts & Tickets by Year

Passage Contracts & Tickets

Articles and Book Excerpts About Steamship Tickets and Contracts

Improve Your Family History Through Illustrations

Make Your Family History More Readable Through Illustrations From the GG Archives