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First-Class Accommodations

Accommodations for the first-class passengers are provided amidships extending over five decks - the main, upper, shelter, promenade and boat decks.

Access from one deck to another is obtained by means of the grand and other staircases, and by two separate electric passenger lifts, which travel from the main to the boat deck.

Entrance to Boat Deck Showing the Elevators on the Cunard Express Liner RMS Mauretania, 1907.

Entrance to Boat Deck Showing the Elevators on the Cunard Express Liner RMS Mauretania, 1907. GGA Image ID # 17a9046d7f

Grand Entrances and Staircase

The grand entrances and staircase are treated in the fifteenth-century Italian manner. The woodwork is French walnut, the panels being veneered with some of the finest figured wood that one could wish to see.

The utmost difficulty was experienced in obtaining a sufficient quantity of veneers of the quality aimed at so extensive a work. Both England and France were searched for what was needed.

The woodwork carving in the entrances and staircase is much less than in the dining saloons, but the panels containing carving are very chaste in design and workmanship. The carved capitols of both pilasters and columns are interesting on account of the variety of designs.

In recesses in two of the entrances are carved sedia or seats that remind one of the Medici's days. The grand staircase is unequaled in size and beauty in any vessel afloat, and indeed it is worthy of any mansion ashore.

The two lifts or elevators are arranged in the well of the staircase. The "grille" or railing around the lifts is of aluminum, the design being adopted from some antique wrought- ironwork of the fifteenth century.

We do not remember having previously seen a "grille" made of aluminum, and the soft tone of the metal gives cheerfulness to the more somber walnut woodwork.

A considerable saving in weight has been affected by using aluminum instead of iron or bronze—an important consideration in high-speed vessels' design.

Another fine piece of aluminum work is that in the bureau front on the promenade deck. In all the grand entrances, a pleasant foothold is given by the indiarubber tiling, supplied by the India Rubber, Gutta Percha and Telegraph Works Co., Ltd., of Silvertown; and the carpet on the stairs is of a delightful shade in green, serving to accentuate the beauty of the paneling.

First Class Dining Saloon Showing Two Levels and Dome on the Cunard Express Liner RMS Mauretania, 1907.

First Class Dining Saloon Showing Two Levels and Dome on the Cunard Express Liner RMS Mauretania, 1907. GGA Image ID # 17a9338e40

Dining Saloons

First in importance in regard to size are the two first-class dining saloons- the upper and the lower -situated on the upper and shelter decks. Between the two rooms is a large open space surmounted by a dome, the whole producing a lofty and airy effect.

The dining rooms are paneled in straw-colored oak, in the style of Francis I.  One of the charms of this style is that no piece of carving is an exact reproduction of its neighbor, and an inspection of these apartments will show how well the designer has followed the style's traditions. Some of the most delicate work is shown upon the arched bulkheads, which run at right angles to the ship's sides.

 All the carving in these rooms has been cut back from the face of the solid wood. The designer has aimed to keep the larger and lower room richer in carving, leading up to a simpler treatment of the upper dining saloon and terminating with the dome's crowning feature.

View of the Upper Dining Saloon and Dome of the RMS Mauretania, 1907.

View of the Upper Dining Saloon and Dome of the RMS Mauretania, 1907. GGA Image ID # 17a94ff2d5

This dome is a groined one, in cream and gold, reminding us of the Chateau de Blois. The groins' interlacing has been carefully planned, with small, enriched circles at the cross-sections, introducing the signs of the Zodiac.

At the top is an octagonal balustrade, through which hidden electric lamps throw light against a gilded convex disc, shedding a soft glow like warm sunlight over the apartments. The sconces in the upper dining saloon are well worthy of attention, reproduced from a fine pair of antique silver ones.

The rooms are upholstered in deep pink, and a fine sixteenth-century tapestry at one end of the lower apartment gives an admirable effect.

The floor of the lower dining room and other apartments are laid with parquetry by the Turpins Company, of London, and the carpet is in a pleasing tone of cerise red.

The long tables usually found in the older Atlantic liners' dining saloons have been discarded, and small tables have been adopted in both the lower and upper dining saloons.

In the lower saloon, the tables accommodate from 5 to 14 passengers, and in the upper saloon, parties of from 2 to 6 persons can be seated at each table.

The lower room, which is 87 feet long, extends the ship's full width and is thus almost square and provides seating accommodation for 328 passengers.

The upper dining room is  62 feet long by 66 feet wide and seats 152 persons. The height from the lower dining saloon floor to the top of the dome is about 28 feet.

View of the First Class Lounge on the RMS Mauretania, 1907.

View of the First Class Lounge on the RMS Mauretania, 1907. GGA Image ID # 17a98dce3a

Lounge and Music Room

The first-class lounge or music room, situated on the boat deck, is 80ft. long, 56ft. wide, and 11ft. 9in. high. It is a noble apartment, treated in that charming style obtained in France in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, and of which the Petit Trianon is perhaps the most typical example.

The arrangement of the panels, and the delicacy and design of the carvings and columns, might have been the work of Gabriel or Mique, but the architect has, in his scheme of color, been inspired more by the sumptuous furniture of the period than by the wall decoration, and that with the happiest result.

It is difficult at first to realize that one is afloat when in this beautifully-shaped room, with its rows of stately columns and its graceful semi-circular bays; and only those who know how a designer is hampered by the position of funnels, ventilators, beams girders, and the various necessities of the modern ship, can properly appreciate the ingenuity displayed.

First Class Music Room and Lounge on the RMS Mauretania, 1907.

First Class Music Room and Lounge on the RMS Mauretania, 1907. GGA Image ID # 17aa03da05

The paneling, columns, and pilasters are of that mahogany, which the French term acajou moucheté. The panels are cross-veneered so as to give the greatest effect to the grain of the carefully- selected timber, which is dull polished, a rich golden brown, the moldings, and all the carvings being fully gilt. 

Sixteen pilasters of Fleur du Péché marble with ormolu capitols and bases, a chimney-piece of the same materials, soft creamy curtains with coloured borders, and three fine panels French tapestry produce a color effect that leaves nothing to be desired.

The oval dome of wrought iron with gilt ornaments, and the plainly paneled white ceiling from which are suspended crystal electroliers, complete a room unequaled in any steamship and rarely surpassed even in a palace.

The carpet and furniture are worthy of the decorations. The former, specially designed for this apartment, is of the same cream tone as the curtains with a trellis-work of laurel and roses, recalling in its turn the colors of the tapestry on the walls.

The chairs and sofas, of polished beech covered in various colored brocades, are all reproductions of Louis XVI. designs, combining elegance and comfort.

The tables of various sizes, scattered about the room, are worthy of attention on account of their coloring and shapes, being entirely destitute of extraneous ornament.

First Class Library and Writing Room Looking Athwart on the RMS Mauretania, 1907.

First Class Library and Writing Room Looking Athwart on the RMS Mauretania, 1907. GGA Image ID # 17aa231c5b

Library and Writing Room

The library or writing room, a somewhat smaller room than the lounge, is situated on the same deck and is decorated in the same style, although the color scheme is entirely different.

This room will probably be regarded by many passengers as the most beautiful in color on the ship, although we are inclined to award this distinction to the lounge.

The wall paneling is of sycamore stained a silver-grey. The veneering has been so selected as to bring out the fine grain, the plain portions of the wood being entirely discarded.

The carved moldings are gilt in the lounge, but the gold used has a slightly greenish tint to harmonize with the paneling. A bookcase forms the paneling of one side of the central portion of the room, the delicate carving and gilt trellis of the doors greatly enhancing the wall's appearance.

First Class Library and Writing Room on the RMS Mauretania, 1907.

First Class Library and Writing Room on the RMS Mauretania, 1907. GGA Image ID # 17aa84bdfd

On the opposite side of the room is a carved chimney-piece of white statuary marble, surmounted by a mirror similar in design to the bookcase's central doors, which it faces and reflects.

The carpets and curtains are of a deep rose color, the latter relieved by borders of colored brocade. This color also predominates in the covering of the seats.

The frames of the seats are of mahogany, copied exactly from antique models, the original of one being unique. The writing and other tables, which have been specially designed, are also of mahogany.

First Class Passengers Select Reading Materials from the Library on a White Star Line Steamship circa 1909.

First Class Passengers Select Reading Materials from the Library on a White Star Line Steamship circa 1909. GGA Image ID # 17d76ccf72

The treatment of the swing doors in this apartment and the lounge is worthy of special attention. The panels are fitted with square beveled glasses, the narrow dividing rails being of richly chased and gilt ormolu.

By using clear glass panels in the doors, the range of view is much extended, reaching the beautiful "corridors and adjoining rooms, a total distance of about 350 feet. It only remains to be said that the ceiling and dome, the crystal chandeliers, and other library accessories are similar to those in the lounge but quite distinct in detail.

First Class Smoking Room on the RMS Mauretania, 1907.

First Class Smoking Room on the RMS Mauretania, 1907. GGA Image ID # 17aaaefe38

Smoking Room

The smoking room is reached by a vestibule from the music room and an entrance from the open-air promenade on the boat deck. It is 52ft. long and 50ft. wide, with a height of 11ft. 9in. The period selected for the decoration of this room is fifteenth century, Italian, in walnut, the same as the grand entrances.

In carving, however, the smoking room is much richer, and it is relieved round all the panels with an inlaid border of sycamore. An interesting feature is a jube extending the length of the room and divided into recesses with divans and card tables.

Two recesses at one end of the room, fitted with writing tables, give the users perfect seclusion. The windows in the recesses are unusually large for ship work and are treated with semi-circular arches, giving them the appearance of a house shore’s windows. The chimneypiece at the forward end of the room is a magnificent piece of work.

First Class Smoking Room, Looking Aft, on the RMS Mauretania, 1907.

First Class Smoking Room, Looking Aft, on the RMS Mauretania, 1907. GGA Image ID # 17ab655154

It is surmounted by a carved wood hood and has been modeled and carved from a fine example of Della Robbia in the South Kensington Museum. The fireplace sides are lined with massive slabs of Verte Campan marble, and the basket grates and firedogs are reproduced from the originals at the Palazzo Varesi.

The smoking room's appearance is greatly enhanced by the wagon-headed roof, which is divided into three sections and decorated with beautifully modeled plaster-work.

A frieze of plaster-work also runs round immediately above the carved cornice and embraces a picture at each extreme end of the room, one representing " Old New York " and the other "Old Liverpool." The roof, together with the plaster-work, is all finished in vellum color.

A View of the Verandah Café on the RMS Mauretania, 1907.

A View of the Verandah Café on the RMS Mauretania, 1907. GGA Image ID # 17ab6a21da

Verandah Cafe

The provision of a verandah cafe at the after end of the first-class smoking room on the boat deck is one of the many delightful innovations of the Mauretania.

Here passengers may sit and sip their coffee in the open air, perfectly protected from the weather. Ever greens have been trained along the glazed roof, giving the passenger an impression of shore comforts.

Observation Room for First Class Passengers on the RMS Mauretania, 1907.

Observation Room for First Class Passengers on the RMS Mauretania, 1907. GGA Image ID # 17ab9e38bd

Observation Room

This apartment is situated on the promenade deck in the fore-end of the deckhouse and commands an uninterrupted view over the bow of the vessel while affording complete protection from the weather.

Passengers can thus see the vessel forging ahead without being exposed to the force of the wind caused by the great speed at which the vessel travels.

The Children's Room for First Class Passengers on the RMS Mauretania, 1907.

The Children's Room for First Class Passengers on the RMS Mauretania, 1907. GGA Image ID # 17aba63314

Children's Room

In this apartment, which is situated on the shelter deck and reached from the grand entrance, the work has been carried out in mahogany, white enameled. The paneling on the walls is decorated with paintings by the well-known artist, Mr. J. E. Mitchell, of Newcastle-on-Tyne. 

Dining tables and seats, of suitable height for little passengers, are provided; and the big rocking horse in the center of the room will no doubt be much in demand.

The windows in this room, as in the public rooms generally, are square, and not the usual circular lights used in ship work. A children's lavatory and pantry, besides rooms for four stewardesses and two matrons, open off the children's room.

Drawing Room of a Regal Suite on the RMS Mauretania, 1907.

Drawing Room of a Regal Suite on the RMS Mauretania, 1907. GGA Image ID # 17ac199824

Regal suites

The two regal suites, one on each side of the promenade deck, comprise a drawing room, dining room, two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a private corridor. The drawing and dining rooms of the suite on the port side are paneled in East India satinwood, the veneers of the panels being laid across the angles which converge to the centers.

In the drawing-room, gilding has been added, and a silk tabouret in a charming tone of green has been used in the wall panels. The rooms are heated by electric radiators, fitted with statuary marble mantelpieces. The style of these two apartments is a simple form of Adams, admirably adapted to rooms of this size.

The two bedrooms are Georgian in character, with carved moldings, and finished in white, the furniture being of mahogany. The wall panels are covered in silk corresponding to that used in the drawing-room.

The suite on the starboard side is carried out in a very similar style, with the exception that a delightful tone of rose is substituted for green.

View of Dining Room Seen from the Drawing Room of Regal Suite on the RMS Mauretania, 1907.

View of Dining Room Seen from the Drawing Room of Regal Suite on the RMS Mauretania, 1907. GGA Image ID # 17abfd7264

The dining room, which communicates with the drawing-room by sliding doors, is paneled with fiddle back sycamore, charmingly treated and inlaid.

The drawing-room's paneling is also fiddle back sycamore, of a soft grey tone, inlaid very delicately with holly wood. The color scheme of this room, with the warm rose carpet and silk hangings, is very pleasing and homelike.

En Suite and Special Staterooms

In the special state and en suite rooms, of which there are 68, an interesting variety of effect has been obtained by a judicious choice of woods and in the silk hangings and general coloring.

One of the most effective of these rooms is the pear-tree room, with its inlay of holly wood and cream and green upholstered surroundings.

In the fiddleback sycamore room, the coloring is relieved with inlays of greenwood in the pilasters and frieze panels, and the silk hangings and carpets have been carefully selected to be in harmony, the whole forming a very agreeable combination.

Sleeping Apartment of an En Suite Room on the RMS Mauretania, 1907.

Sleeping Apartment of an En Suite Room on the RMS Mauretania, 1907. GGA Image ID # 17ac6aaa58

Another noticeable room is that in which the sycamore is of a soft grey color, the relieving inlay being in holly and pear-tree. Mention might also be made of several white rooms, with carved moldings and mahogany furniture, or the rooms paneled in satinwood, inlaid with faded mahogany.

Most of these rooms have recesses curtained off and fitted up with washstands in onyx marble. In many of the rooms, the wall panels have been covered with cream silk, and in others, a border of embroidery has been added, taking up the colors of inlays on the paneling and the carpets. Again, others have the panels framed with fine lace, laid on a contrasting color, and embroidered at the sides.

Special First Class Stateroom on the Upper Deck on the RMS Mauretania, 1907.

Special First Class Stateroom on the Upper Deck on the RMS Mauretania, 1907. GGA Image ID # 17ac9b3149

First-class Staterooms

One hundred and nine first-class passengers are accommodated in staterooms on the main deck, within convenient reach of the staircases and lifts. These very large staterooms are arranged for one, two, or three passengers, the number of berths fitted for the last number being comparatively few.

The mahogany furniture of the staterooms forms a pleasing contrast to the paneling. The floors are covered with crimson Brussels carpet, the sofas are upholstered with pink or red tapestry, the door curtains are crimson, and the window curtains are in cream chalis with a floral design on the edge.

On the upper deck is fitted a large number of superior cabins. The distinguishing feature is that each has its own lavatory, recessed into the bulkhead and curtained off from the apartment's main portion.

This lavatory is fitted with a dressing mirror, sponge and soap trays, and all other accessories, and hot and cold water service is laid on.

These rooms are also paneled in white, but the furniture is executed in a variety of woods, such as satinwood, oak, mahogany, and walnut. A brass bedstead, of special design, is fitted in each room. Above the bed is a folding berth, which can be hinged back when not in use.

A sofa is provided on the opposite side of the room near the wardrobe, and a handsome dressing and writing table combined have also been added. In addition to these special rooms, a number of more ordinary staterooms are provided on the upper deck, fitted to accommodate one, two or three passengers.

They are furnished with folding lavatories, dressing tables, sofas, and wardrobes, the furniture and fittings being generally similar to those in the rooms on the main deck.

The First Class Stateroom Called the Sheraton Room on the RMS Mauretania, 1907.

The First Class Stateroom Called the Sheraton Room on the RMS Mauretania, 1907. GGA Image ID # 17acb85aa6

On the promenade and boat decks, in addition to the Adams, Sheraton, and Chippendale rooms, a large number of staterooms for one and two persons are provided, and a few three berth rooms. No stateroom on the boat deck is intended to accommodate more than two passengers.

First Class Stateroom Called the Adams Room on the RMS Mauretania, 1907.

First Class Stateroom Called the Adams Room on the RMS Mauretania, 1907. GGA Image ID # 17acc81f32

Eight Odds and Ends About First Class Life & Amenities

  1. Accommodations for the first-class passengers are provided amidships extending over five decks.
  2. On the boat deck, besides the fine open promenade space afforded, there are offered special inducements for recreation and sports in the form of an elaborately equipped swimming pool and gymnasium. The swimming pool itself measures 30 by 12 1/2 feet and is surrounded by dressing rooms, shower baths, electric light baths, and other equipment essential to its use.
  3. Aft of this is the gymnasium, fully equipped under the Zander system, alongside which is a botanical garden and a photographers' darkroom. Amidships on the boat deck is the wireless telegraph room, and forward are the officers' quarters.
  4. Except for a few select staterooms, the entire promenade deck is given over to the first-class public rooms and promenade. As shown by the illustrations, these rooms provide all the comfort and luxury found in the best hotels onshore. In decoration, appointment, and equipment, they are designed to satisfy the most discriminating traveling public.
  5. The promenade space itself is 20 feet wide and extends clear around the ship with a length of 320 feet on each side. The forward part is protected against stormy weather by sliding windows.
  6. Occupying a large space forward on the promenade deck is the winter garden. Arched by a dome of colored glass and sumptuously furnished, this is used as the assembly room for dances, concerts, and other entertainments.
  7. The staterooms are large and well ventilated. In the first cabin, bedsteads take the place of berths. Many rooms contain dressing tables, desks, and chairs, in addition to the usual wardrobes and sofas. A large number of rooms are arranged for one passenger. Each room is supplied with running hot and cold water.
  8. The private suites are provided with sitting rooms, baths, and trunk rooms. When so desired, meals are served in the suites.

Luxurious First Class Stateroom. Uniformed Maid Shown in Background.

Luxurious First Class Stateroom. Uniformed Maid Shown in Background. GGA Image ID # 17ace3f57e

17 Other Facts About Being a Passenger at Sea circa 1910

  1. Rooms on the promenade decks usually have windows opening out on the deck, which may be kept open at all times except when heavy seas are being shipped, and spray is apt to enter the rooms.
  2. The vessels are heated either by steam or electricity. Electric heating is very insidious; the heat appears to be given out very slowly, but as soon as the heater has reached its maxim, the heat is intense, and care must be exercised that nothing in the way of clothing should be placed on or near the heater.
  3. Electric curling irons, bed-warmers, and electric warmers for milk for children are provided on some lines. Electric light will be found on all trans-Atlantic steamers, and the rooms are adequately lighted.
  4. Freshwater is provided for washing, also soap, a new cake being provided for each passenger, each trip. There are plenty of towels, and warm water for washing and shaving is provided on request, and usually, stewards bring around hot water half an hour before dinner time.
  5. A bugle call is sounded half an hour before each meal, giving a chance to make any necessary changes in clothing on many lines. Where it is necessary to have two seatings at the table, the room steward will wake up the passengers who eat at the first table in ample time.
  6. On retiring, the door should be fastened slightly open with the aid of the hooks which are provided. One of the first things a sailor learns when he goes to the sea is not locked up in a room while afloat, and passengers may well note this. In case of a collision, or other emergencies, it might prove very dangerous if the passenger's door could not be opened immediately.
  7. All surplus money, valuables, etc., should be left with a purser, who will receipt for same. The passageways are constantly patrolled at night, but cases of theft, while not common, do occur. On the whole, considering the number of passengers carried, voyagers' personal property is safer than in hotels on land.
  8. First-class passengers are not allowed to enter second or third-class compartments, and vice versa, as complications might arise under the quarantine regulations.
  9. On some of the newer German ships, the inside staterooms have an opening on a narrow passageway about a foot and a half wide, which is closed at the passageway by an iron gate. This narrow opening affords an abundance of light and air and is an ideal way for constructing a steamer.
  10. If you have a berth and a stateroom with another person on reaching a vessel, seek them out at the earliest possible opportunity and exchange cards.
  11. Occupants of the same room should practice much mutual forbearance in the disposal of their personal effects; it should be remembered at best that the accommodations are very much cramped.
  12. A ladder is provided to enable the occupant of the upper berth to reach it safely. Many, however, find the ladder unnecessary and ask for its removal.
  13. Life preservers will be found in every stateroom. Illustrations showing the method of putting on the life preservers will be found in the staterooms or in the passageways. It is only necessary to put on the life preserver in cases of very grave peril.
  14. When the ship is rolling very badly, steamer trunks, satchels, etc., should be lashed to the berth supports or the sofa supports to prevent them from injuring the passenger. The steward will attend to this matter.
  15. Passengers should avoid loud speaking in the corridors and staterooms during the night-time, as this is apt to keep other passengers awake. It is to the mutual interest of all concerned that the ship should be kept as quiet as possible at night, and the stewards are specially charged to see that this quiet is maintained.
  16. On some lines promenading on the upper decks is not permitted after a certain hour. Avoid asking the officers questions about the navigation of the ship; remember that they have had to answer these questions many thousands of times, and eventually, this becomes wearisome even to the most good-natured officers. The information contained in this book ought to be sufficient for the average traveler.
  17. Passengers should under no circumstances attempt to visit the navigating bridge while the vessel is underway, as this is absolutely against the rules and interferes with the work of the officers, who are responsible for the safety of the ship.
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