Bathing Facilities of the Modern Steamship - 1913
By DAY ALLEN WILLEY
Of all the great industries in the world it is a question if any has made more progress than the construction of the great floating hotels which carry the hundreds of thousands of people across the Atlantic Ocean at all seasons of the year. Even ten years ago, extensive as was the passenger traffic, the vessels were small in size compared with the great craft of today, some of which carry fully twice as many as the liner in service back in two.
But the most notable feature has been in the improvements which have been made for the care and comfort of the passenger, no matter whether he occupies the first cabin or the steerage. The arrangements made for the passenger are so far superior to the accommodations provided even ten years ago that it is difficult to compare them.
The term floating hotels is indeed merited, for today the vessels of the principal companies going across the Atlantic have all of the conveniences of the modern hotels, and in some of the newer ships the passenger has perhaps more facilities for enjoying himself than in one of the greater New York hostelries.
The fact is that nothing has apparently been omitted in providing the modern steamship with not only everything which the passenger actually needs, but to make the time pass quickly and pleasantly.
So it is that the tour across the ocean instead of being a week or so, possibly, of misery clue to small staterooms, perhaps crowded with persons, foul air due to poor ventilation, poor food with the only lounging places dingy cabins when the weather prevents going on deck, has now become one of the pleasantest features of a trip abroad, and is looked forward to by the traveler in most cases who expects to obtain as much if not more enjoyment from it than he does in going over land from resort to resort.
The most expert artist, decorator and skilled artisan have been employed to fit out these vessels so that their interiors are not only beautiful but artistic so far as the ornament is concerned. The old social halls have been supplanted by actual parlors elegantly furnished in various styles, the floors covered with rich carpeting, the room lighted by gas or electricity, possibly both forms of illumination.
The dining saloons, as already stated, vie in appointments and design with those of the best hotels, and in some cases are really more attractive, while the table service is of the finest. If one chances into the culinary department he may be surprised at the modern appliances for cooking, both by gas and electricity, which are in service, the refrigerated chambers with their great food supplies—all as complete as one could find in the same department of any of the greater hotels of the country.
Another feature, however, which is of special importance is the provision of bathing and sanitation facilities. The little dark cramped stateroom has been enlarged until on the modern vessel the passenger can have what is actually a bedroom of comfortable proportions, heated by steam, amply ventilated so that he has plenty of pure air, while hot and cold water are also provided by appliances representing the most modern design in plumbing.
The work of the plumber is really an ornamental feature of the average stateroom, and is indeed a revolution in contrast to the installations of even a few years ago. Nowadays on the steamships are placed large tanks, holding fresh and salt water, as well as water heated to different temperatures, so that a vessel carrying five hundred people gives ample opportunity for bathing and cleansing, as well as the use of the salt water for health purposes, if desired.
But in addition to the equipment of the stateroom, the modern steamship without a special bath department is a rarity, since the companies find that this is so greatly in demand by the average tourist. Turkish baths have now become a necessity and are expected in steamship travel.
These apartments are provided with elaborate systems and a corps of skilled attendants, and some of them are of such proportions that they rival in caparity some of the Turkish baths in the large cities. Shower baths also form a part of the bathing equipment, and are of especial importance in the steerage compartment, where they do much to maintain the health and cleanliness of the lower-grade passengers, such as immigrants.
At last the swimming pool has also made its appearance on the steamship. In the old days, in answer to the demand of the passengers, the captain sometimes flooded a well on the lower deck, and turned this into an open-air pool, which .formed one of the most notable features of life on the ship-l oan!. the passengers using it from morning to night.
But crude and inconvenient as it was, much enjoyment was obtained. Probably the makeshift plunge bath has led to the installation of the modern swimming bath. This is a permanent feature of most 1)1 the latest steamships, such as the George Washington of the North German Lloyd Line, the Adriatic, of the White Star Line, and several vessels of the Compagnie Generale Transatlan tiq ue.
These pools are finished very similarly to pools in land bath houses, being lined with white tile, with the walls tinted in some appropriate color. While they vary in size, some of them are large enough to accommodate fifty or sixty persons at one time, so that before the voyage is over the entire ship's company has an opportunity to utilize the bath.
While the outlay for bathing facilities on the vessel of today is very large, the companies admit that it is money well spent, since the public has shown its hardy appreciation. Staterooms with baths now form a large proportion of the rooms of all of the larger liners.
The prices for these rooms have been raised, on account of the addition of the bath, but they are most in demand and are quickly taken at any time of the year.
Apparently the tourist does not object to a reasonable additional expense where he can have the same opportunities for private bathing that he has on shore; in short, the stateroom with bath has become just as essential as the chamber with bath in the hotel, and is now expected by the one who contemplates crossing the ocean.
According to the records of the principal companies having regular steamship lines in service between New York and the principal ports of Great Britain and Europe fully fifty thousand first-class cabin passengers go from America to Europe during the first four
months of each year, merely for the sake of spending the summer abroad and returning in the fall.
Another very large number are making tours of different kinds in the Old World, crossing the Atlantic to reach their destination, while the tide of winter travel—tourists who spend the portion of the year between December and April in Europe — is also very extensive.
The total number of ocean travelers far exceeds a hundred thousand in a year, and has nearly doubled within the last ten years. Even at that time the attractions of Europe were well known, but the discomfort, even hardship, which attended the voyage in many cases caused persons to give up sea travel.
The tourist agents and other experts believe that the remarkable increase in this migration across the sea yearly is very largely due to the fact already intimated, that the modern vessels have been so carefully planned and so thoroughly provided with comforts and conveniences, while they are of such size that that dread of ocean travel—seasickness—is reduced to a minimum.
vol. x SEPTEMBER, 1913 No. 9