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Life Onboard At Sea

In comparison to contemporary standards, onboard entertainment during the Titanic era was notably limited. Today, the prospect of spending five days at sea without modern forms of organised entertainment might seem quite challenging. However, it's essential to understand that in 1912, entertainment held a different significance; it was more of a novelty in everyday life. The Edwardian era characterised by a simpler pace of life, where activities like attending the theater or dining out were considered special occasions.

Onboard the Titanic, the daily ritual of dressing up for dinner and experiencing the ambiance of a five-star hotel for a week was, in itself, a form of entertainment, particularly for passengers in the lower classes. Nevertheless, Titanic did offer some organised entertainment options, ensuring that passengers across all classes had a variety of activities to engage in during their voyage.


Second class passengers promenading on Titanic's Boat deck

Promenading held a special place in the leisure activities of the Edwardian era. It involved taking a relaxed public stroll, typically along the waterfront or in a park. The Edwardians highly valued the benefits of fresh air, believing it contributed to good health. However, promenading was more than just a health-conscious pastime; it was a social affair of utmost importance to Edwardian society.

For passengers on ocean liners like the Titanic, promenading served as an opportunity to observe the social hierarchy, scrutinise fashion choices, and engage in gossip. Passengers actively sought to be seen with specific individuals and used this setting to flaunt their latest fashion ensembles. Some even rented deck chairs at strategic locations to have the best vantage point for people-watching or catching the attention of someone they were interested in.

The Titanic was purposefully designed to accommodate this social ritual in both first and second class. Both classes enjoyed ample deck space for leisurely strolls, and enclosed areas ensured that promenading could continue even in adverse weather conditions. In contrast, third-class passengers often utilised their deck space for fresh air and recreational activities rather than formal promenading.

Deck Games

A boy playing deck games on Titanic

Passengers play deck quoits on Olympic

Engaging in deck games was a cherished activity aboard any ship during the Edwardian era. When the weather was favorable, passengers anticipated the opportunity to participate in various sports and recreational games outdoors. Games like shuffleboard, cricket, deck quoits, and bull board were particularly popular, alongside activities like beanbag toss (cornhole), tennis, and more.

It's worth noting that all passenger classes partook in deck games, though they often played separately, as social divisions were firmly maintained on board. Despite this segregation, passengers from different classes frequently gathered to watch one another's games due to the layout of the decks. Even if they weren't actively participating, onlookers would convene to observe the games and place bets on the eventual winners.

In first class, children enjoyed additional amenities, including swings that hung from the aft mast on the promenade deck. Moreover, they utilised the starboard Verandah cafe as a dedicated playroom, ensuring that passengers of all ages had opportunities for recreation and entertainment during their voyage.

Board Games

Indoor board games, like today, were also a popular pass time. Many games were provided to all classes to enjoy in their respective public rooms. Passengers could play Chess, Draughts/Checkers, Dominoes, and Backgammon, as well as card games, Bingo, and various parlour games.


First class gymnasium on Titanic

First class passengers had the luxury of a gymnasium for passengers to use when they wanted. Keeping fit and athleticism was a new craze to Edwardians, and a relatively new amenity on a ship. Located on the Boat deck just off the Grand staircase, the gymnasium offered rowing, and cycling machines, as well as weights, boxing punch bag, and horse riding. A Gymnasium steward was provided to assist with the sports equipment, and children were allowed in between 13.00 - 1500hrs.

Squash/Racquet Ball

An artist impression of the Squash court with spectators

First class passengers were provided with a Squash court on G Deck with direct access from first class accommodations. Personal health was fashionable to Edwardians, and many people took up sports, and squash was a quick and fast paced game that could be played by oneself or up to four people. The court was a popular amenity for passengers to use with other passengers or the Racquet steward (instructor) that was provided. Tickets to book slots were 2 shillings for 30 minutes obtained from the pursers office.

Turkish Bath

First class passengers were provided with a Turkish bath facility, like a modern spa. This collective had various heated rooms for passengers to sweat out their impurities. The shampooing rooms provided passengers with a water massage and a full body scrub.

The electric bath, was a contraption that would bathe the body in electric light which was thought to have healing benefits.

The Turkish baths located on F deck was open from 06.00-09.00hrs for men and 10.00-12.00hrs for women. Tickets could be bought from the pursers office with free access to the pool.

The cooling room on Olympic

The electric bath

Swimming Baths

Or the swimming pool to many, 'the baths' is a British term referring to the room rather than the actual pool. Titanic was one of the first ships to be built with a swimming pool and was an amazing technical achievement at the time. The pool was part of the Turkish baths complex and was filled with heated salt water. Passengers could come for a swim 06.00-09.00hrs for men and 10.00-12.00 for women. Sexes were separated and could not use the facility at the same time.

Fresh water showers were provided too, to wash after swimming.

An artists impression of the swimming baths


Gentlemen in first and second class were provided with barbers to assist with male grooming hygiene, haircuts, and facial hair cuts. Going to the barbers would be an enjoyable self grooming time, and also to feel good ready for the evening dinner.

Ladies would usually have maids and stewardesses to do their hair and beauty regimes in their cabins. Olympic was later fitted with a Ladies hairdressers salon.

The barbershop was also a place to buy trinkets, tobacco, and toys as well as aftershaves, ointments and grooming products.

Second class barber shop on Olympic


Marconigrams were telegrams sent through the ships wireless Marconi telegraph. Not only for ship communication but passengers could use this service too. This new technology was still a novelty on a ship and for a small fee, allowed first class passengers to send and receive messages with people on land. This was a very popular service, and passengers found it fun to send and receive messages while at sea.

Reading / Writing

Reading and writing was a popular Edwardian pass time. Titanic provided rooms specifically for this like the first class Lounge, and Reading and Writing room. Second class Library, and the third class General room. Education was the basis of society and reading was essential to that. Passengers would bring books onboard and first and second class passengers could borrow books from Titanic. Passengers would write postcards and letters, as well as personal diaries.

First class reading and writing room

Second class Library


Passengers were advised to not gamble with money onboard as it wasn't uncommon for professional gamblers to use the liners to swindle wealthy passengers. Despite this, gentlemen would usually put a wager on a card game in the smoking rooms. Card games were a very popular pass time to all passengers in all classes. It wasn't uncommon to bet with objects like sugar cubes or hairpins.

Passengers would also bet among themselves on the ships daily progress (speed and distance)

Gentlemen in the first class smoke room from the 1997 movie Titanic


Meeting new people played a significant role in the entertainment onboard ships during the Edwardian era. It was not only a source of amusement but also a vital avenue for forging fresh acquaintances, making valuable business connections, and connecting with fellow travelers. For first-class passengers, particularly, the art of discerning the social landscape and aligning oneself with the right company was a crucial pursuit.

Being sociable was not only encouraged but practically unavoidable, given that communal meals and daily activities necessitated interaction with fellow passengers. The Edwardians had a genuine penchant for socialising and relished the opportunity to expand their social circles. Often, passengers moved in similar social spheres, and while some might have known each other beforehand, voyages frequently facilitated the formation of new friendship groups.

General chit-chat, gossiping, and the convivial act of sharing drinks were effective means of passing the time while aboard, further enriching the social experience of the journey.

First class ladies enjoying the Lounge, Olympic

Music Concerts

Titanic provided a band to be enjoyed by first and second class passengers. The band was not employees of the white star line but instead hired. Passengers would usually arrange a collection for the musicians. The band played at different times in different areas.

  • Second class concerts, in the aft C deck reception room, 10.00-11.00hrs, 17.00-18.00hrs and 21.15-22.15hrs

  • First class, Grand staircase boat deck, 11.00-12.00hrs

  • First class, D Deck Reception room, 16.00-17.00hrs and 20.00-21.15hrs

  • First class, A Deck lounge, 14.00-15.00hrs

The band playing a concert in the second class aft reception room

Playing Music

All classes were provided with pianos, not just for the band but for anyone that wanted to play, and it was encouraged. Pianos were a popular Edwardian pass time, with many people having them in their homes for household entertainment, many people knew how to play. Passengers could play the piano for entertainment and people could crowd around, sing and dance. Passengers were also encouraged to play their own instruments that they've brought onboard. As third class were not provided with a band, the piano in the general room and personal instruments became the focus of entertainment where passengers could sing, dance and listen.

An artist impression of the third class general room

A piano provided for first class, Boat deck Grand staircase


Dancing was a cherished pastime during the Edwardian era, and it was common for most people to be well-versed in popular dances of the time. With regular music concerts and pianos available in all passenger classes, passengers had the perfect setup for impromptu dances. They could simply select a partner and start dancing, immersing themselves in the joy of the moment.

Dancing not only provided a source of entertainment but also served as an excellent icebreaker and conversation starter. It was a social activity that allowed passengers to forge new friendships, engage in conversations, and create memorable moments while aboard the ship.

Meal Times

Meals aboard the ship were unquestionably the highlight of every passenger's voyage, regardless of their class. The culinary offerings were exceptional, with chefs of the highest caliber, some with experience in renowned hotels and restaurants around the globe, responsible for creating these gastronomic delights.

The daily meal schedule was structured as follows:

- Breakfast was elegantly served between 08:00 and 10:00 hours.

- Luncheon took place at 13:00 hours.

- Dinner, the grand event of the day, commenced at 19:00 hours, with lights dimmed at 23:00 hours.

Dinner was a spectacle in itself. To announce the dress code, a bugler would stroll the decks, playing his horn. This melodious call signified that dinner would be served in 30 minutes, prompting passengers to prepare accordingly. In first class, dinner was a strictly formal affair, and passengers who were not appropriately attired could be denied entry.

Dressing for dinner was not merely a requirement but an integral part of the event. Passengers donned their finest attire, often showcasing their latest acquisitions from the most esteemed fashion houses in London or Paris.

First-class passengers were treated to a sumptuous 10-course meal, each dish crafted with precision and artistry. The meal was complemented by an exquisite selection of wines, champagnes, confectioneries, and sweets, all presented in a manner of utmost elegance. Additionally, first-class passengers had the option to dine in the A la Carte Restaurant, a separate dining venue that incurred an additional cost.

Second-class passengers, enjoyed meals prepared in the same kitchens as their first-class counterparts. They too adhered to a formal dress code and savored up to 8 courses of delectable cuisine.

In third class, dinner was served in a 3-course arrangement, with some variations in dining times to accommodate all passengers.

Dinner wasn't solely about indulging in culinary delights; it was an opportunity for civilised enjoyment, socialising, and a display of one's refined tastes. However, failure to uphold proper etiquette, adhere to the dress code, or maintain a decorous demeanor could lead to the tarnishing of one's reputation among fellow passengers.

First class passengers, depending for dinner on Olympic

First class dining room

Second class dining room

Tea Time

Afternoon tea is usually in the mid-afternoon, around 4pm. Passengers could gather with new friends and socialise with tea/coffee and light refreshments. This could be taken in most public ares in both first and second class. Tea time was an important event where passengers would discuss ship events, gossip, or make future onboard plans. First class had specific areas for tea, like the Verandah cafes, the cafe Parisien, the lounge, or the D deck reception room. Tea could also be taken on deck, weather permitting, and in your room. Second class could take tea in the Library. Third class were also served tea and coffee in their public rooms. All classes had tea and coffee options with every meal too.

Parisien Cafe on Titanic


Social drinking was a good way to pass the time, many people would have drank especially at meal times. Alcohol was provided to all classes as part of the ticket price. The more expensive wines and champagnes were charged extra, and any alcohol in the restaurant were added to the bill. Gentlemen would drink alcohol in the smoking rooms, and while playing card games. Ladies would drink alcohol after dinner, either in the reception room or in the lounge.

Third class were also provided with beer and ales on an evening.

Gentlemen drinking in the first class smoke room on Olympic

Private Parties

First class passengers would host private parties back in their cabins after most of the public rooms had closed. Especially passengers with the millionaire suites, or Parlour suites with the private promenades and sitting rooms. These rooms were designed for private parties. Passengers would host tea, dinner, or luncheons. or a just a few drinks and a card game.

Second and third class passengers were not allowed to host private parties, but they would chat in their cabins with their travel companions or newly aquanted cabin mates, until the early hours.