There Was No Excuse To Be Bored on Board

Video highlights from Rebuilding Titanic

There really was no excuse for boredom aboard the Titanic. To the contrary, there were so many diversions that a passenger would have been hard-pressed to try them all.

One major pastime on the Titanic was walking and admiring the view of the sea. The Titanic's designers sought to enhance that pleasure by creating an enclosed Promenade deck, which allowed passengers to walk even in inclement weather. The Promenade also was equipped with folding wooden deck chairs, which enabled the less energetic to sit and watch the other strollers and socialize. Passengers who paid for pricey parlour suites also were provided with their own private 50-foot-long private promenades.

For First Class passengers concerned with physical fitness, the Titanic also offered first-rate exercise facilities. These included a squash court where passengers could play for a fee of 50 cents per match. By some accounts, the court also could be outfitted with a net for tennis, though its dimensions—20 feet by 30 feet—wouldn't have allowed very vigorous rallies.

The gymnasium was equipped with what were then state-of-the-art pieces of equipment, and a personal trainer was available to coach passengers through the workouts that included stationary bicycling, rowing, boxing, weight training, and a peculiar motorized device called the electric camel, which apparently simulated the exertion of riding an actual beast.

Another luxurious fitness amenity was a nearly six-foot-deep heated salt-water swimming pool, which could be used for either swimming workouts or for spa-style relaxation. As passenger Archibald Gracie, who took a swim on the morning of the Titanic's final day, later recalled, "In no swimming bath had I ever enjoyed such pleasure before."

The recreation options for Second Class passengers weren't quite as extensive. The Titanic provided deck games such as shuffleboard and ring toss, and board games such as chess and backgammon. One of the nicest amenities was the Second Class Library, which was used by passengers not just for reading, but also as a place to socialise. In a memoir, Titanic survivor Lawrence Beesley recalled the library, which he visited on the afternoon of the disaster, with wistful fondness. "I can look back and see every detail...the beautifully furnished room, with lounges, armchairs, and small writing or card tables scattered about, writing bureaus round the walls of the room, and the library in glass-cased shelves flanking one side—the whole finished in mahogany relieved with white fluted wooden columns that supported the deck above."

The Third Class passengers pretty much were left to find their own amusements in their living quarters or in the small area of the poop deck that they were allowed to use. Nevertheless, as Beesley recalled, "I often noticed how the Third Class passengers were enjoying every minute of their time." One of the passengers played the bagpipes for everyone's entertainment, and younger passengers enjoyed "uproarious" double jump-rope contests. Beesley also noticed a man who would climb the stairs leading from the Third Class section and talk through the gate to his wife, for whom he had purchased a Second Class ticket. After the disaster, Beesley saw the wife on the Carpathia, but guessed that the husband probably had perished with the Titanic.

For the spiritually minded, the Titanic had a Sunday morning church service, conducted in the First Class dining saloon. On the morning of the disaster, the congregation joined in singing a hymn, "Prayer for Those at Sea," which included the fateful lines:
‘O God, our help in ages past
Our hope for years to come
Our shelter from the stormy blast
And our eternal home’

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