Paying onboard

  • Thread starter Stefan Christiansson
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Stefan Christiansson


I was just wondering how one would pay for things on board the Titanic. Did you pay in cash at the time of purchase of did you sign it to your stateroom and payed on arrival?
How about the a la carte restaurant. Did you pay cash at the table?

Since two cashiers were employed in the restaurant, I guess they paid cash. I suspect the same goes for other things, especially things like the barbers and the squash court, whose operators were independent of White Star.
I'm not 100% sure whether this would have been followed for everything, but paying aboard Titanic and Olympic (and no doubt other ships) was much like a hotel today. You had an account for your cabin/s and everything was credited to that and you paid it all in one go at the end.

I know of one Olympic passenger that referred to having a Restaurnant account. So thus I presume you did not pay by meal every meal but rather at the end all in one go. I'm sure it was the same for other expenditure abord the ship such as for the pool, turkish baths barber etc.

I would think that people did use cash, or paid for "ticket card" that would be collected at the time of a "paid event" or "paid item" happens, or is consumed.

Managing a "cashless system" in 1912, I bet would take a lot of crew coordnation. Computers and card readers were not invented at that time, and this kind of system would not come till about the 1980s.

The system wasn't cashless. Many passengers (or at least 1st class) had vast sums of cash on board with them. So at the end of the voyage, they would be paying their on board accounts with cash. Or I'm sure they could definitely write out a money order for the White Star Line or the particular ship.

Daniel, I had always wondered at the large amount of cash John Jacob Astor had on him when his body was found, and it just came together. After all, this was a mainly cash society were are speaking of, wasn't it.

Stephanie Stokes

I know this may be a stupid or silly qustion but I must ask it.
-Did passengers(any class)have to pay for their meals?Or was all of their meals paid for in their ticket prices?Just wondering about this information.
Hi Stephanie,

For 2nd and 3rd Class meals were included in their ticket prices.
1st Class passengers paid for any meals taken in the Restaurant, which was on B-deck. - If they elected to take all of their meals in the Restaurant then they received a rebate of £3 or £5 [depending on the fare they had paid] off the price of their ticket.

I hope that helps,

Max Ipinza

I know that it is late in the game to mention this. I feel that the method of payment onboard the Titanic was finalized at the end of the trip. It is an old custom and is still observed today at the Vancouver Club and other fine "gentlemen" clubs around the world. You would pay cash at the end of the trip or visit but you would not present money in any shape of form whilst in the presence of other gentlemen. It was considered rood. Hope this helps.
>>I feel that the method of payment onboard the Titanic was finalized at the end of the trip.<<

In some instances it would have been. Obviously not the A La Carte Restaurant, as the employment of cashiers would not have made sense otherwise. However with anything else, if the bill wasn't settled at the time services were rendered, it would have been handled by and settled at voyage's end through the Purser's office.
Perhaps this has been addressed elsewhere, and if so, please do excuse my redundancy:

Since alcohol and perhaps other little things were not included in the price of one's ticket for passage, how did passengers pay for what they consumed? Did they pay cash immediately upon receipt of the good or service? Were they given a bill at the end of the voyage and then made a single payment while still aboard? Or were they billed after they alighted on land, thus sending in either cash or a check afterwards? What about tipping - was tipping done at the end of a voyage rather than during? In what currency was everything settled in?

[Moderator's Note: This message, originally a separate thread outside this subtopic, has been moved to this pre-existing thread addressing the same subject. MAB]
Tipping was generally a one-off payment at the end of the voyage, usually in dollars or pounds, made directly to the bedroom steward, saloon steward, etc. Entirely optional, of course. Payment for drinks ordered with meals was settled while still on board at the end of the voyage. Drinks ordered at any other time were paid for at that time. As were meals and drinks in the restaurant, barber's charges, etc. But note that Daniel Klisthorner mentioned above that (on the Olympic at least) it was possible to arrange an account with the restaurant.
Considering the number of vacant cabins, would it have been possible for a person (or family) to have boarded at the last minute and paid aboard ?

Would charges for food and drink at the Ala Carte or Palm Court Restaurants have been paid at the restaurants at the time of the service ?

Charges for messages sent or received via Marconigrams paid to Marconi operators or billed to account ?
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