Are modern cruise ships more luxurious than the old transatlantic liners?


Dec 4, 2000
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Luxury is defined by public taste. You probably wouldn't find any in Titanic if you applied modern standards. But, 1912 weathy would find modern ships garish and lacking in taste. Both would be right or wrong depending upon the standards of the time. Personally, I miss the mini-skirt era. But, don't tell my wife.

-- David G. Brown
 
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Dec 2, 2000
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Taste, as Captain David so aptly put it, is highly subjective. That said, the standards of today are very different from that of over a century ago. A lot of even the 1st Class cabins would not be legal today because of a lack of en suite bathroom facilities which even the humblest accommodation now is required to have.

Also in that day, a lot of the diversions and entertainments we take for granted today as fundamental either just weren't done and often as not, didn't even exist. Passengers were left to their own devices when it came to "social intercourse."
 
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Mike Spooner

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Big ships like Symphony of the Seas as impressive they may be, but does not always mean a highest standard class of luxury. Which the Olympic class ships were for.
I would of thought the rich want some thing on a smaller scale of the personal touch of service and not having to put with screaming kids running around with very little parent control this days!
 
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B Portwig

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passenger ships and ocean liners - are completely different to cruise ships and what they offered - in 56 years of being an enthusiast of shipping - and having amassed quite a collective library of such - the market for cruise ships has skyrocketed in years - and good for that - however the romance of the old liners had an appeal and nostalgic - that few cruise ships can match - i was luck to have spent 5 days on board the queen mary in 1994 - she was very much still under renovation in some parts - but the sheer class and styling is from a by gone era - as opposed to the amenities offered on cruise ships today
 

Aly Jones

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The Titanic and Normandie would be dinky now alongside modern cruise ships like the Symphony of the Seas, which is longer and heavier than those two.

Are they also more luxurious?
SOS is the most ugliest ship I've ever seen in my life! Bigger doesn't mean better. There are smaller cruise ships today that look just as good and stylish as titanic exterior was. And not to mention the only transatlantic ocean liner the QM2 is so much more stylish and luxurious than that big ugly cruise ship SOS.

As for more luxurious? Well quarter of titanic was luxurious - first class, the rest of the SHIP INTERIOR was not so.

Modern ships are fully furnished every where as in one class, which I prefer however, titanic era ships were far more elegant. So much blood sweat and tears were put into carving out the interior by man VS hotel looking interiors full of glass.

If someone offered to pay for me, I would pick the QM2 for a transatlantic voyage (SAME ROUTE AS TITANIC, GOING OVER THE WRECK SITE) over a cruise on the SOS.
 
Nov 14, 2005
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By todays standards yes I would agree. But in 1912 many of the emigrants coming from villages where the was no electricity, indoor plumbing/bathrooms...ect third class on Titanic and Olympic must of seemed like the lap of luxury. Luxury like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Today I would guess many would define luxury by how fast the ships WiFi connection is.
 

Arun Vajpey

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As others have said, I think it is all a matter of taste and expectations of the times.

Long ship voyages were the norm before WW2 and the opulence and decor likely matched the tastes of the time. Also, I am guessing that there was a certain amount of snootiness in the atmosphere of First Class - both passengers and crew contributing. That sort of thing would be considered in bad taste and unacceptable by modern standards.
But several of those ships provided the sort of sanitation facilities that would be considered inadequate my modern standards. Hygiene was not high on the list, I imagine.

Still guessing but a happy medium was probably reached between the late 1940s and late 1950s in ships like the Andrea Doria where comfort and luxury were associated with good passenger facilities.

In modern cruise liners, the onus will be on health and safety, political correctness, hygiene and above all environmental friendliness. But for those who are willing to pay premium prices, luxury can be added on to those requirements.
 
Jul 5, 2016
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Where older ships have the distinction is bringing the country house manor/hotel look out to sea. A certain niche of people would find this more luxurious and enjoyable than what modern cruise ships offer today.
 

Aly Jones

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I once read a quote by an indian lady that Titanic offers way more comfort and luxury than what Indians can get in modern India today. She is amazed in what men had built in 1912 which India doesn't have today-- etc.. Luxury rooms, heaters, running water, flushing toilets, Sewerage systems, fans, swimming pool, swimming baths Turkish baths. Indians today would find titanic luxurious.

I'm not being racist, just quoting from an Indian lady herself.
 
Nov 14, 2005
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As others have said, I think it is all a matter of taste and expectations of the times.

Long ship voyages were the norm before WW2 and the opulence and decor likely matched the tastes of the time. Also, I am guessing that there was a certain amount of snootiness in the atmosphere of First Class - both passengers and crew contributing. That sort of thing would be considered in bad taste and unacceptable by modern standards.
But several of those ships provided the sort of sanitation facilities that would be considered inadequate my modern standards. Hygiene was not high on the list, I imagine.

Still guessing but a happy medium was probably reached between the late 1940s and late 1950s in ships like the Andrea Doria where comfort and luxury were associated with good passenger facilities.

In modern cruise liners, the onus will be on health and safety, political correctness, hygiene and above all environmental friendliness. But for those who are willing to pay premium prices, luxury can be added on to those requirements.
"In modern cruise liners, the onus will be on health and safety, political correctness, hygiene and above all environmental friendliness. But for those who are willing to pay premium prices, luxury can be added on to those requirements."
This is just my opinion but I think others have stated pretty much the same thing in other threads. Comparing yesterdays liners and todays cruise ships are like apples to oranges. Mainly because in the past getting from A to B was the goal. If you could do in style that was a bonus. Todays cruise ships are the destination. I have friends that are experianced cruise ship goer's. They told me they have pretty much written off the larger one's and look for the smaller, as in much smaller cruise ships. They said they went on cruise in french polyonisia on a ship that only had like 2 or 3 hundread passengers...said it was so much better but it did cost more. I came across an article recently that was about cargo ships and how they have refitted them with like 3 to 5 staterooms that you can book. I don't know if thats something new or has always been. Sounds like it might be an interesting way to go if somebody was looking for a slower laid back trip across the pond.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Even in 1912 there were variations in comfort and luxury. It might be a bit of figure of speech but there were comments that a ship like the Titanic offered more amenities (if not luxury) to their Third Class passengers than what was available in Second Class in some contemporary transatlantic ships. I don't know if this is true or nor, but I understand the gist of it.

For example, ships like the Titanic & Mauretania offered more in terms of comfort and luxury to its First Class passengers than did contemporary liners like Carpathia or Californian. But I am sure that came at a price.

My sea experience is mainly on small diving liveaboard yachts, 23 times. I have not been on a 'traditional' large modern cruise liner. What I'd like to know is the "class difference" between ships a 100 years ago and now. On the Titanic for example, there were significant differences in the amenities available between First and Second Class and then again Second and Third Class. Do such differences still exist? In fact, do modern liners even have 3 classes or just two? I'd be interested to know.
 

Charley Smith

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That's a surprisingly hard question to answer. Everything and everyone has changed since Edwardian times. People dressed far, far beyond today's standards. Most of us would look like really bizarre creatures to them, not fit to shovel coal. Socializing, reading, writing letters and primarily dining were the recreations of the upper classes. You didn't gobble 10 course dinners and leave. There were probably hours spent chatting over these long leisurely dinners. Decor was handcrafted, real masterpieces throughout, the best of everything.. Axminster carpet, polished brass, beautiful woods. BUT as others have said - even having your own bathroom was not the norm in First Class and the bathrooms were very, very utilitarian by today's standards - salt water in the tub, fresh in the shower head (I seem to remember). There was no AC and heating was manually controlled.

Now, third class would think they had died & gone to heaven in today's cruise ships where everyone has their own private suite, bathroom, air conditioning and much, much better choices in food and entertainments.

Today, even the poorest of us on a cruise would seem very very well off to third class passengers. Today, even the most wealthy of us on a cruise would seem pretty 'second class' and common at best. All of us would seem vulgar, dressed worse than a fireman, openly discussing things that most ladies and gentlemen shouldn't even know much less discuss. Children behave like wild animals and even they are vulgar & foul mouthed & rude. I think an Edwardian might believe the world they knew had collapsed into utter chaos.

Which was more 'luxurious'? When you think about it, we're practically trying to compare two alien races.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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Brilliant post Charley Smith. Imagine Richard Branson or Bill Gates on a cruise in 1912 and wandering around, as they are quite likely to today, in shorts, T-shirts and flip flops (or even bare feet)! Or Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley cracking bawdy jokes at the dinner table. Marian Thayer or Eleanor Widener would have fainted on the spot and while some of the men might have secretly enjoyed the show, they would not dare smile.

But to be honest, after they'd got over the shock and been forced to mingle with modern rich guests, some of the Guilded Age snoots might be secretly missing the fun after the cruise. Informality has the habit on rubbing on the stiffest of upper lips after a while.
 
Nov 14, 2005
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i understand what you and Charlie are saying and agree. But one doesn't have to go as far back as Edwardian era. When I was young lad and up thru my time in the Navy when people got an airliner they usually were dressed in their best. Coach service in those days were almost always and in someways even better than first class today. Today its almost unbelievable the stuff I've seen on airliners. But a lot of that falls on the airline industry itself when they switched to the cattle car buisness model. But in those days if you showed up in pajama tops, flip flops and spandex pants they would say get lost. I remeber the first time I was on a flight and the stewardess was some dude. I was like WTH... what has happened to the world.? *L*. You get what you pay for I guess.
 

Arun Vajpey

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I was like WTH... what has happened to the world.? *L*. You get what you pay for I guess.
True, but it depends on the mindset. I am now 64 years old and the dress code was a lot more formal when I was a kid. But even then I thought that people who wore suits regularly were uncomfortable. We have probably become a bit too casual these days as evidenced by jeans with holes etc. Perhaps some sort of via media is the answer - a sort of 'smart casual' being the norm with the option of dressing more or less formally for occasions as appropriate.
 

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