top of page

The Return Voyage

What if Titanic never hit the iceberg and sank? When would the return voyage have been and who would be travelling on it?

It is a subject often overlooked by the disaster but tickets would have already been booked for the return voyage and future voyages on the Titanic.

Just like any other ship, Titanic was taking bookings for the entire year.

As Titanic was sailing across the Atlantic, eastbound passengers in America would have been making their way to New York, or preparing for the return trip.

Often people think of these ships being almost empty on the return leg as they were primarily built for the immigration trade, but this is not necessarily the case.

These ships also catered for the American market travelling or returning to Europe which was also a lucrative business.

Titanic was actually more booked for her return eastbound voyage than her first westbound crossing. Having only 51% occupancy on her first leg and apparently 80% occupancy for the return leg at the time of the disaster. That number would have risen with last minute bookings when she arrived in New York.

The Eastbound voyage was slightly different to the Westbound voyage.

Westbound sailing from:

Southampton, UK - Cherbourg, France - Queenstown, Ireland - New York, USA.

Eastbound sailed from:

New York, USA - Plymouth, UK - Cherbourg, France - Southampton, UK

They were also other voyages planned between:

Liverpool, UK - Queenstown, Ireland - Boston, USA.

As well as Liverpool, UK - Quebec, Canada - Montreal, Canada

White Star Line Trans-Atlantic Schedule for Olympic, Titanic and Oceanic

Titanic was due to sail on the eastbound leg of her maiden voyage at 12.00 Noon on Saturday 20th April 1912 from New York Pier 59.

Most passenger booking records have been lost or destroyed after the sinking, as passengers were quickly offered alternative ships or refunded.

It would have been rare for passengers on the westbound voyage to also be on the next return eastbound voyage. These ships were a transport service than a cruise holiday which often gets misunderstood.

Immigration was a big part of the trade, but this was mainly in Third class.

First and Second class passengers would be travelling to the US for mainly business, tourism, or Americans returning home.

Its reasonable to assume that Third class on the return voyage would have been less occupied but First and Second class would have been booked by returning travelers, Americans with business in Europe, and Americans holidaying in Europe.

It was very popular at the time for wealthy Americans to travel to Europe for the Summer, as well as visiting family and friends and getting involved in the European social scene.

A Third class poster advertising Titanic sailing on Saturday 20th April

The people that would definitely have been on the return voyage would have been

Captain Smith and his Officers. Smith was not due to retire until he returned back to England.

Most, if not all of the ships staff and crew would have served on the return voyage.

One of Titanic's stewards wrote a postcard home, which was posted in Queenstown, to say that it was an easy trip out as the ship was only partly full but he understood that the return trip would be difficult as it was fully booked.

Mr Thomas Andrews, the ship designer and his 'Guarantee group' (A group of Harland and Wolff staff chosen by Andrews, in various fields to ensure this ship functions properly and finds elements that require improvements) would have all been on the return voyage.

Bruce Ismay, the Managing Director of the White Star Line. He traveled on Titanic as a passenger to observe her in action and intended on being on the return trip.

An article in a Boston newspaper called The Christian Science Monitor, reporting on the disaster early on 15th April 1912 mentioned '600 first class passengers had already booked on the return voyage on Titanic'. The article went on to report the ship being safe and on her way to be repaired with the return voyage possibly delayed or cancelled.

In a New York newspaper, it was reported a Mrs Greta Hostetter had a first class ticket for the return voyage. She eventually married Glenn Stewart, second secretary of the American Legislation at Havana.

Its reported Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of the wireless radio system that Titanic used was invited by Ismay as a distinguished guest on the westbound voyage but instead had to decline the invitation as he had urgent business in New York and traveled on the Lusitania from Liverpool instead with intentions on sailing back on Titanic on her eastbound crossing with Ismay.

A photograph of Guglielmo Marconi, 1909. Due to travel on Titanic

Its been assumed that the 38th Governor of New York, John Dix and his wife were booked on Titanic for the return trip and were transferred to the Red Star Line, SS Lapland after the disaster which sailed on the 20th April.

Ships sailing east the same weekend as Titanic was supposed to sail, all had above average passengers numbers, especially the SS Cincinnati and SS Californian that sailed on the 20th April (The day Titanic was due to sail back). Its safe to assume some of Titanic's passengers were transferred to them.

It was reported in a few New York newspapers that 150 of Titanic's eastbound passengers traveled on RMS Mauretania on the 23rd April.

The RMS Celtic, which was Titanic's running mate also had above average passengers for her eastbound crossing on the 25th April.

In a historical culture book written by Steven Biel called 'Down with the old Canoe' mentions a Henry Adams that booked to sail back on the Titanic.

According to a book called "Ladies and Not-So-Gentle Women" by Alfred Allan Lewis which is a joint biography of Anne Vanderbilt, Elisabeth Marbury, Elsie de Wolfe, and Anne Morgan (J P Morgan's daughter), not only was Henry Adams planning to make Titanic's return voyage but Anne Morgan was as well.

The author claims that she, along with an entourage of family and friends, had been booked on Titanic's return voyage but postponed their travel plans after the disaster. They all finally did set out aboard the SS France on May 2, 1912, which, coincidentally was the return leg of its maiden voyage

An advertisement for Titanic's return voyage in the Baltimore Sun, 9th April 1912

It is interesting to think that not only did the Titanic disaster affect the lives of everyone onboard and their friends and family, but also the next set of passengers due to travel.

The drama of the sinking overshadows the fact that Titanic was just a ship within a schedule to transport people across the Atlantic; and if she hadn't have sank, she would have gone on to transport many people, rich and poor across the oceans and have been part of so many lives.

For the next set of booked passengers that was never meant to be.

Written by Chris Walker of RMSTitanic.Design

If you enjoy these articles please donate

1,100 views0 comments

Related Posts

See All
bottom of page