Steamship Crews Organization for Comfort At Sea
IN former days the principal consideration in ocean transport lay in the conduct of the navigation of the vessel, and while the passengers were cared for as well as ordinary conditions would permit, this feature formed a secondary element in the undertaking.
Even at the present time instances are found in which the operation of the ship, considered as such, seems to occupy the chief attention of those in charge.
With the development of the great liners, however, it is being understood that an ocean steamship is really a great floating hotel, and that upon the conduct and administration of all the elements which go to make up the ease and comfort of the passengers the commercial success of the business may depend.
No more completely organized community may be found in the world than aboard the great modern ocean steamers. When two or three thousand people are obliged to live within the boundaries of one of these steel hulls every detail of their life must be carefully systemized. As the result of long experience it is now possible to gather travelers from every walk in life and carry them across the seas without one of them foregoing the comforts they may be accustomed to ashore.
Here is an immensely complicated problem, which is rendered more difficult by the necessarily restricted boundaries of even the great ocean leviathans.
Before the tourists set sail they must, of course, consider the question of banking, which must be carried on probably in many strange cities far from home. It is only a few years since the traveler could depend upon but one medium—gold-to be honored in all countries. This he carried in the proverbial leather belt against loss of all kinds.
This situation was partially improved by the use of letters of credit. The improved manner of carrying money to all parts of the world is admirably illustrated in a remarkable incident which occurred recently in New York.
A wealthy tourist was so unfortunate as to lose his pocketbook in New York the day before sailing. It may have been a robbery ; in any event, the steamship tickets for himself and daughter and $1,075 were gone. The tourist had taken the common-sense precaution of purchasing travelers' checks to the value of $1,000, which are honored the world over at their face value and yet are so safe that they are of no use to any but the owner.
The pocketbook in question was found and the $75 removed, when it was dropped in a Broadway letter box. In due course it reached the post office early the next morning, when the steamship company was notified, and, by quick work, the tickets and the $1,000 were handed to the traveler before the steamer sailed. The travelers' checks would he equally as safe on the other side of the world.
When the ocean liner arrives in port the most expeditious work is required in the few hours she is at the dock to prepare her for her next trip. To assure the comfort of the tourists, the vessel must be thoroughly cleaned inside and out. A gang of men scrape and newly paint the funnels, the hulls, and all the great expanse of woodwork. Other workmen take up all the carpets throughout the vessel, clean them, and, after scrubbing the floors, all the tables are repolished, the chairs regilded and stained, and the metal work polished until it glistens.
There are some 30,000 pieces of linen on a single ship to be counted, sorted and laundered. In the steward's department there are 15,000 pieces of silverware, 25,000 pieces of glassware and 60,000 dishes, plates, cups, saucers, etc., to be gone over.
The modern ship's laundry might well serve as a model on land. A curious problem has been met in the case of the S. S. Cleveland, of the Hamburg-American Line, which carries a party of 500 tourists around the world. The laundry, equipped with all the newest labour-saving machinery, is operated by a special staff of eighteen experienced laundrymen. All the laundry work of the 500 tourists is carried on about as expeditiously as on shore.
Every refinement of service which may be employed in the best hotels on shore is insured to this densely populated steamer. That everyone may have his daily bath calls for very careful organization in this department. A small regiment of bath stewards is employed in this department alone, and, in addition to the ordinary bath, there are Turkish baths, electric-light baths, and masseurs.
The provisioning of an ocean liner calls for very careful organization of the steward's department. The menu is extremely elaborate throughout the longest voyage. Some time ago a West Indian steamer, outward-bound, chanced to run on a reef, where she was held for a month. The passengers meanwhile were living on board.
On the last day of their enforced imprisonment ice cream was served for dessert, which had been taken on board before sailing. A great ocean liner carrying 1,500 passengers carries, first of all, some 425 tons of fresh water, 6,000 gallons of wine, beer, etc. Vegetables to the amount of 2,500 pounds and some 1,400 pounds of fruit must also be taken on board.
The larder must also contain 3,500 pounds of meat, 5,000 pounds of poultry, 3,000 pounds of fish, some 20,000 dozen eggs, 7,000 pounds of butter, 1,800 gallons of milk. This vast supply is only intended for a six-day trip.
A great army of employees must be carefully trained for this complicated work. The Hamburg-American Line, for instance, employs some 33,000 men, as completely organized as any regular army. A complete system of insurance and benefits has been organized. At the end of a life-service the men are pensioned.
Waters, Alwyn, "The Organization of Comfort at Sea", Cassier's Magazine: An Engineering Monthly, Volume XL, No. 7, November 1911, Pages 657-660.