The Queen of the Seas: Then and Now

Even before her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, the RMS Titanic was sometimes called the Queen of the Seas. She was the largest and most elegant ocean liner in the world, and would surpass all other ocean-going passenger ships in size, speed, and luxury. Tragically, she collided with an iceberg on her debut voyage and sank, killing over 1500 passengers and crewmembers. Today, a new Queen makes regular transatlantic crossings. The RMS Queen Mary 2, built in 2003, is the only ocean liner in service between Southampton and New York, and has claimed the title of the largest ocean liner ever built, once held by Titanic.  At 1,132 feet long, the Queen Mary 2 surpasses Titanic's length of 882.5 feet by 249.5 feet.


Cunard's Queen Mary 2

Designed to be an ocean liner, the QM2 was built using 40% more steel than most of today’s cruise ships. Her top speed is 30 knots, with a cruising speed of 26 knots. In comparison, Titanic’s maximum speed was between 24 and 25 knots.

Instead of running on coal-powered steam as Titanic did, the Queen Mary 2 has a propulsion system including 4 diesel engines and 2 gas turbines.

What are some other comparisons between the Queen Mary 2 and the Titanic?

Passengers and Crew

Titanic was capable of carrying 3,547 passengers and crew. On her maiden voyage, approximately 2,208 were aboard, including 885 crew members.

The Queen Mary 2 has a passenger capacity of 2,695 and carries 1,253 crew members.


Titanic had 9 decks. The QM2 has 14 passenger decks with 18 total decks.


Passengers stroll near lifeboats aboard Titanic


A view of some of QM2's decks as the ship navigates New York Harbor


The Titanic had three large dining rooms, one for each class. The Parisian Café and Veranda Café were also available to first class passengers.


Titanic's first class dining saloon

The Queen Mary 2 has 15 restaurants and bars for the use of all passengers.


The Britannia Restaurant aboard Queen Mary 2


Most of Titanic’s passenger facilities (swimming pool, Turkish baths, gymnasium, squash court) were for first class passengers only. First and second class each had their own library, and smoking rooms for men only. Reading and writing rooms were available for the ladies. Third class passengers could use the General Room for conversation, games, and music.

The QM2 boasts an unprecedented number of activities for its passengers, including dancing in the largest ballroom at sea, 5 swimming pools, sports and fitness activities, a planetarium, children’s program, singers, dancers, and comedians, and a full-service spa.


Titanic carried 20 lifeboats, with a total capacity of 1,178. Following the disaster, new maritime laws required all sea-going vessels to have enough lifeboats for every passenger and crew, plus one-third.


Lifeboats aboard Titanic

The Queen Mary 2 life-saving equipment consists of two fast 6-person rescue boats (up to 25 knots), 14 150-person semi-enclosed lifeboats (6 knots), and eight 150-person combination tender/lifeboats. In addition, the ship has life rafts with a capacity of 37 persons each.


Lifeboats on Queen Mary 2


The cost of a third class ticket on Titanic, in today’s prices, would run from $298 - $793.

Queen Mary 2 offers several different prices for a one-way voyage from New York to Southampton, depending on the type of room. A standard inside cabin starts at $1,099 per person.


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A City in Sorrow

One million Great Britain coal miners went on a national strike in February of 1912 with the main goal of an increase in their minimum wage. In the city of Southampton, the strike left 17,000 men without work. Soon, many of them needed help from charities and survived by pawning clothes and furniture to buy food.

striking miners in GB

Miners during Great Britain coal strike of 1912

The strike ended on April 6th with the institution of the Minimum Wage Act, but train and ship schedules were still feeling the effects. Return to steady work was not yet in sight for the miners, and the RMS Titanic was about to make her maiden voyage to New York from Southampton. In order to have enough coal for Titanic’s massive steam engines, the White Star Line ordered its smaller ships to remain in port and their coal delivered to the Titanic. Their New York-bound passengers would be transferred to the Titanic as well.

Southampton had only recently become England’s main port, taking over that position from Liverpool. Now, with so many men out of work in the city, White Star Line advertised job openings for crew members on its new steamer. A fireman, or stoker, could earn 6 pounds a month, and a steward, over 3 pounds. Hundreds applied and were hired.


RMS Titanic leaving Southampton

Of the 1,517 people who died in the sinking, 685 were crew members. Over three quarters, 538 of them, were from Southampton. On one street alone, nearly every house lost someone: a husband, a father, a son, a brother. Some women lost their husbands and sons as well. Those alive at the time reported a great hush descending on the city. An entire generation had been lost.

Most families were left in complete financial ruin. The Titanic Relief Fund raised the equivalent of around $20 million in today’s money for the families of all those who died. For the widows of non-salaried crew members in Southampton, the payments were small. The Salvation Army helped by supplying basics, like milk, soup, and bread. No compensation came from the White Star Line.


Memorial to Southampton's Titanic Crew Members

Today in Southampton, descendants still remember their loved ones who perished on the Titanic, and those who were left behind to carry on during such difficult times. On April 10, 2012, exactly 100 years to the day Titanic departed Southampton , the SeaCity Museum opened, featuring the city’s Titanic story. For more information, please visit