Maiden Voyage Blues


Jul 11, 2001
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After reading the QM2 Maiden Voyage reports by Jim Kalafus, I was thinking about the Titanics same situation.

History is often remembered as "the good old days" but when you really look closely you see the faults and flaws. Did the Titanics passengers have some of the same complaints as the QM2 passengers?

We all know about the missing binoculars for the lookouts, but what about the services? I recall the testimony from a second class passenger that she had no heat in her cabin and asked to be moved. Lawrence Beasley took passengers into the Bath room to feel the tubs vibration to prove they were moving again. Was this vibration also annoying to passengers?

Were the Wideners having dinner at the Ala Carte restaraunt because the main salon hadn't enough dinner rolls? Or was that Brown woman too noisey and boisterous?

Has anybody noticed while surfing testimony or biographies any Maiden Voyage blues? Yes, besides the ICEBERG!

(and no, I'm not poking fun at Jims reports. I looked forward to them everyday. I am just curious at the topic and wanted to stimulate conversation)

David
 
May 12, 2005
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I was thinking the same thing, David, about whether there were some complaints that would have rankled had the disaster not occurred and made them pointless.

It seems that most accounts praise the running of the ship, its beauty, spaciousness and the service. But surely there were complaints.

Thomas Andrews had a list of things he was wanting to improve, didn't he? These can't have been all his own ideas for change; some must have been based on passenger feedback.

As to Jim's experiences, they are unfortunate but I wonder would they have been as noticeable on a simple week's cruise? Being on board for a longer time must have made it unbearable! Of course, shoddy service, when you are paying such a lot of money, is intolerable regardless of whether its habitually repeated. It is a real shame and even shocking since I always thought Cunard was impeccable.

It will be interesting to see if others have any knowledge of Titanic pre-disaster complaints by passengers or information about complaints from other maiden voyages.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Well, there were complaints about heaters in some of the cabins not working, there was that annoying fire in the coal bunker that smouldered for a couple of days, and it's anybody's guess as to whether or not the clock on the Grand Staircase was actually installed. Were it not for that iceberg, Titanic's maiden voyage might have gone down in history as reletively trouble free compared to others. The Imperator for example.

Maiden voyages of any ship tend to be plagued with all sorts of problems because things aren't run in, troubleshooting is not always complete, various systems don't work, and you have a crew which is thrown together for the first time which is not accustomed to working together.

It's bad enough for a military vessel, but a warship doesn't have to contend with fare paying passengers who want and have every reason to expect more then may actually be possible. Further, the crew of a warship turns over reletively slowly so they can get used to working with each other and fix the shipyards screw-ups. A merchent vessel however does have to contend with customers, and crewmembers can easily vote with their feet if they decide "I've had enough of this [insert deletable expletive here!!!!!]

That makes fixing things a bit more challanging and experienced travelers know this. That's why maiden voyages tended to be avoided by those who were in the know.
 

Kyrila Scully

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Apr 15, 2001
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Mrs. Imanita Shelley and her mother, Mrs. Lutie Parrish of Versailles, Kentucky, had quite a few complaints that are well documented here. Jim made reference to them in his posts. Perhaps the ladies' complaints were exascerbated by Mrs. Shelley's illness (a terrible cold that was feared might become diptherial, to hear them tell it)? Had they been in perfect health, perhaps their views might have been more positive. I prefer to see the Titanic through the eyes of a child, particularly young Ruth Becker.

Kyrila
 

Jeremy Lee

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Jun 12, 2003
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Wasn't the Titanic hurried to completion? In that case, plus the cannibalizing of parts for the Olympic, there was a lot of work to be done but they still set the date for April 10th. I bet on board there was still a lot of things to be swotted up that was why the Guarantee Group was there.

Maiden voyages always have teething problems, and its is from there that the designers could see what problems it had, and that was what Andrews did!
 
Dec 7, 2000
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All,

Mrs. Cassebeer mentioned the lack of notices that usually appeared in the cabins. Mrs. Flegenheim mentioned a failure of electricity in her area of cabins (I think either on the 12th or 13th). Mrs Spedden didn't like the Turkish baths at all. This perhaps is outside of normal duty, but after the iceberg struck, the cabin steward service was a bit patchy. While some went to their sections to help their passengers, others did not, and some passengers mentioned that. Other than that, I can’t recall other complaints. Overall passengers seemed to be pleased. There were compliments about the dinner service from both the 1st class Dining Saloon and the a la carte Restaurant.

Regards,

Daniel.
 
Jul 11, 2001
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Good morning all! Perhaps we will never know the true extent of how smooth the Maiden Voyage was going. Some of the longer personal accounts written don't mention anything other than positive experiences. Col. Gracie went into pretty good detail including interaction with various crew members.

Of course the truly wealthy had their own maids and valets to attend to them. The Titanics crew which most of them coming from the olympic must have been fairly accustomed to the workings of this class liner. The only glitch I can think of is how Capt. Smith forgot that the forward part of A-decks promenade was glazed in unlike the Olympics.

Lightoller did write that the ship was so large it took up to 14 days to get comfortable to find his way from bow to stern comfortably. Despite the last minute rearrangement of Officers, there seems to be no documented errors on the Bridge except for the above mentioned Binoculars. Lightoller did later confess to using a fair amount of Whitewash in the hearings. Hmm, maybe we should add the distribution of wireless messages as an inconsistanty that could have led to the ultimate demise of the ship?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Hmm, maybe we should add the distribution of wireless messages as an inconsistanty that could have led to the ultimate demise of the ship?<<

Well, maybe and maybe not. We have it in sworn testimony that the watch team that night was accounting and preparing for the possibility of ice. The lookouts in particular being warned to be on the lookout for growlers and bergy bits. The problem with that last message from the Amerika that supposedly never made it to the bridge is that there's really no evidence to support or refute that, but as it doesn't appear that it changed any decisions made, I think the matter of the wireless was a red herring.

There is still the matter of reports that we know they did get. The fact that they acted on this information tells me they weren't going in blind.
 
Jul 11, 2001
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Michael, Very true. The Officers knew they were steaming into ice that night and did expect to be in it by 9pm or so. We can however add to the "Things gone wrong on the Maiden Voyage" list that the wireless broke down. Bride and Phillips worked feverishly to get it going earlier correct?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Bride and Phillips worked feverishly to get it going earlier correct?<<

Yes, they did. A fairly simple fix once they found what it was that had shorted out, but they had to find the thing first. Considering that this was a very new technology though, it was surprisingly trouble free, and it worked just fine when they needed it the most.
 

Inger Sheil

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Although initially quite chuffed with his cabin - his only real complaint being the size - by the time he was writing his last letters James Moody was referring to it as his 'rotten little cabin'. Although not specific in why he felt this way, the problems they had in the delay in fitting out the officer's cabins (which were still not completed when they arrived in Belfast, and no mention of whether all was well by the time they sailed) might have had something to do with it.
 

Wade Sisson

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I have read a survivor account (although I can't remember who wrote it) in which it was stated that the quality of music played by Titanic's band was a matter of debate during the voyage. After what happened, of course, it seemed tactless to bring it up.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I'm sure it was debated, but maybe not for the reasons we think. Look at how contemporary music is debated today, some of the critisisms used, and then ask yourself what's changed. Beyond the obvious differences in style, I'd have to say that not much has changed at all.
 

Lee Gilliland

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There was also Mrs. Thayer's complaint about the fact the freshly-painted rooms hadn't been adequately aired out, so that the fumes were overpowering, and the portholes weren't working properly when they went to open them to air the place out - minor, but an indication of how hurried the completion was.
 

Inger Sheil

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Would it be Helen Churchill Candee's comments on the musicians you're thinking of, Wade?
Some said it was poor on its Wagner work; others said the violin was weak. But that was for conversation's sake, for nothing on board was more popular than the orchestra.
I think you'd probably find similar criticisms however fine the ensemble - like other forms of art, it will always have those critical of style, execution etc. Candee's comments also suggest that very human trait of picking fault for the sake of it - possibly the criticisms were valid, or possibly they were made by those who wished to appear knowledgeable about the subject.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>There was also Mrs. Thayer's complaint about the fact the freshly-painted rooms hadn't been adequately aired out, so that the fumes were overpowering,<<

I can relate to that, and not on a passenger vessel either. Warships don't have many portholes anf fewer still that can be opened. It's bad enough with modern paints. Even with blowers to exhaust tainted air and draw in fresh, the liquid medium that the formula 150 and 151 primers is in can...literally...take your breath away. Try to imagine what it would be like snorting the oil bases of the paints in use in 1912.

(But not for me, thank you very much. I'd rather die of natural causes!)
wink.gif
 

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