Smoking Rooms on Ocean Liners
Smoking Room on the Norddeutscher Lloyd Steamship SS Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse Is Exceptionally Elegant for That Period. GGA Image ID # 179bbc8542
Cigars can be purchased on the steamers, but it is recommended that smokers carry a box of cigars, each of which is wrapped in tinfoil and wax paper; this will keep the cigars in prime condition. The sea air is very destructive to the flavor of tobacco.
Smoking is not allowed in staterooms or the companionways, but is allowed on deck and in the smoking room, usually in the lounge.
Passengers are not allowed to take liquors on board for their own use, but they can purchase all they require at the bar at more moderate rates than on shore, either by the glass or bottle, as there are no duties to pay.
Wine, beer and mineral waters are also carried by every steamer and are for sale at moderate rates. Wine cards should be signed for wine, but the stewards should be paid for all other articles at the time of consumption, as they cannot be charged.
The head steward will collect at end of voyage. All accounts in the smoking room are payable at the time.
View of the Smoking Room On The Hamburg-American Line Steamers SS Pennsylvania, SS Patricia, SS Graf Waldersee, and SS Pretoria. GGA Image ID # 179a9ab776
The Smoking Room on a Steamship
By Jason Jackson
Nowhere on shipboard, for all the choice of public cabins and lounges or the acreage of deck space, will you enjoy complete comfort than in the smoking-room.
The smoking-room is an excellent, cosmopolitan club throughout the Atlantic crossing, the most democratic imaginable, with the least possible formality. The delightful, care-free life aboard the ship throughout the voyage is focused here.
The deftest and experienced stewards of the great floating hotel anticipate every want of all guests' most exacting, the ocean traveler.
Smoking Room on the Konigin Luise of the Hamburg-American Line, 1914. GGA Image ID # 179ac00b94
Since this cabin always proves decidedly the most popular onboard, a special study has been made of its requirements. Even the earliest steamers, which made little attempt to provide more than the necessary accommodation, had their smoking-rooms.
They were at first small, poorly ventilated interiors, lighted by small portholes by day and swinging lamps by night. In the development of the palatial modern liner, the smoking-room has naturally had its share of attention.
Today the smoking-rooms of the great liners are often the most luxurious cabins of the entire ship. They are usually lofty rooms, extending the entire length of the ship; frequently, they are the largest of the ship's cabins. The decorator's art has been lavishly employed to make these cabins attractive.
First Class Smoking Room on the RMS Baltic of the White Star Line circa April 1909. GGA Image ID # 179b0d58df
The smoking-rooms are usually carried out with rare woods, rich carvings, and other decorative effects. Even fireplaces have been introduced to lend a homelike air.
To a particular class of ocean travelers, an Atlantic crossing is one long poker game. Comfortably established in one of these luxurious smoking-rooms, the player enjoys all the advantages of some exclusive club ashore.
The entire freedom from interruption and polite service is conducive to the introspective habit of mind that the game demands.
First Class Smoking Room on an Anchor Steamship Line Steamer circa 1912. GGA Image ID # 179b4c1463
There is ample evidence to the effect that no other pastime on shipboard serves to pass the time so quickly.
The steward who serves this particular class of patrons must be a master of tact and diplomacy. In the old days, the smoking-room often witnessed the exceedingly high stakes and was frequented by professionals under suspicion of sharp practice.
All this has been vigorously attacked, and the passengers have been safeguarded. The smoking-room steward from long experience usually knows the professional gambler at a glance, and his presence is reported to the chief steward, and if necessary, to the captain.
Smoking Room on the SS Prinzessin Victoria Luise of the Hamburg-American Line circa 1905. GGA Image ID # 179a53f971
The situation is exceedingly delicate. On a recent crossing, an overzealous steward, acting against all the rules, hinted to one of the passengers that a particular player in the smoking-room was a professional. The amateur nevertheless deliberately tried his skill against the unknown, with the usual result.
When his money was gone, he violently accused his antagonist and repeated that the steward had pointed him out as a professional. The gambler—if gambler he was—at once sought the steward and threatened him with libel suits and other reprisals.
In many of the great ocean liners' smoking-rooms, notices are posted cautioning the passengers against playing with strangers. The advice is not always taken.
As a further caution, the captain will sometimes appear in the smoking-room, when the play is at its height, and repeat the warning. Obviously, the situation is complicated for the captain; no matter his suspicions, he must confine himself to the generalities.
Smoking Room of the SS Imperator with All the Comforts of Home. GGA Image ID # 179be7c874
A popular captain, whose name is known to every Atlantic traveler, appeared in the smoking-room recently and, amid the silence which instantly followed, remarked casually, "Gentlemen, I have posted several signs, which I beg to call to your attention.
If you will pardon the liberty, I would suggest that as a rule, it is unwise to enter a game in which a pack of cards contains more than five aces."
It is the experience of most smoking rooms, incidentally, that the play is much higher on the outward-bound or eastern crossing of the Atlantic than the return trip.
For obvious reasons, there is much more money in evidence among the crowd bound for Europe than on the return trip some months later.
The chief pastime of the smoking-room, however, is not card playing by any means. A glance at the great groups of tables any evening will show more chess or checkerboards in use than cards.
About these tables, scores of gentlemen whose names are familiar on both sides of the Atlantic are gathered nightly. The smoking-room is the ship's forum.
The Venerable Smoking Room Where the Men Smoke and Play Cards. GGA Image ID # 179c48e1f1
On many of the modern liners, luxurious palm rooms supplement the smoking room. The palm rooms, where smoking is also permitted, are open to the ladies, and here the proverbial freedom of the smoking-room may be enjoyed without breaking the family group.
The palm rooms depart as far as possible from the conventional ship's cabin. They are lighted by skylights and deep windows reaching the floors and decorated with a profusion of tropical palms, flowers, and fountains.
On one of the newest liners, an elaborate rathskeller has been installed, with stone floor, latticed windows, and exposed roof beams.
Smoking Room on the SS Moltke and Blücher circa 1905. GGA Image ID # 179c841767
The auctioning of the pools on the ship's run is one of the smoking room's ancient attractions. In recent years this vital function, without which no day at sea would be complete, has passed to the palm room, where the diversion may be enjoyed by the ladies as well. It is not unusual for several thousand dollars to change hands on a single pool, although the sum is usually much less.
It is not generally known that one of the most famous ship's pools in transatlantic history was auctioned off many years ago by Theodore Roosevelt. On this crossing, Mr. Roosevelt was accompanied by his daughter Alice, then a baby of six months.
Mr. Roosevelt commenced the bidding of each number at $10, and the betting was exceedingly spirited. The first and the last numbers finally sold for sums establishing a record of its kind.
Smoking Room on the Allan Royal Mail Line SS Victorian. GGA Image ID # 179ca1cc3e
The smoking-room is often another dining saloon, where the passenger may dine less formally than in the main saloons. There is often a complete grill at one side so that a passenger may select a steak or chop and have it prepared before his eyes and served with the least possible loss of time.
The sideboards of these smoking-rooms often display an elaborate cold luncheon. Again, it is customary to serve after-dinner coffee in the smoking-room or palm garden, and here the diners enjoy their cup with a cigar.
Jason Jackson, "The Smoking Room on a Steamship," in Leslie's Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, Vol. CXV, No., 2975, 12 September 1912, p.260.
Smoking Room on the RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic of the White Star Line circa 1912. GGA Image ID # 179b6b3f23
Centrally located on Upper Promenade Deck "A," the Smoke Room bids fair to become the Mecca of many, for, undoubtedly, it is the largest and finest smoking apartment on the Atlantic--which means on any ocean--and the attractive furniture and decorations amply justify this claim.
In old English houses of the early Georges' times--about 1720--was found the motif for the special effects secured in this room by the decorators, who have, however, omitted the customary heavy carvings of that period, substituting therefor some exquisite inlaid work in mother-o'-pearl.
The deep-seated chairs upholstered in embossed leather of a delicate green invite one to indolent ease, while the stained-glass windows which almost surround the room are like delightful pictures hung upon the walls.
First Class Smoking Room on the RMS Mauretania of the Cunard Line, 1908. GGA Image ID # 179cbc7989
First Cabin Smoking Room on the SS New England of the Dominion Line circa 1900. GGA Image ID # 179cf3a6de
Men Playing Chess in the Smoking Room, The Booklover's Magazine, May 1904. GGA Image ID # 179d18a3e2
View of the First Class Smoking Room on the RMS Mauretania Showing the Fireplace. GGA Image ID # 179d353463