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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Ten Myths About Titanic

1. Sixteen lifeboats plus four collapsible boats were all that were in the original plans. False. The original plans called for 64 lifeboats. The owners and builders reduced it to 32, then to 16 because that was the number required by law at the time, and in order to make room for more deck space. The four collapsible boats were then added, bringing the number to 20.


Passengers strolling on the deck near lifeboats

2. Each of the four funnels had a purpose.

False. The fourth funnel was a fake, added to make the ship look grander.


Titanic leaving Southampton

3. On launch day, the ship was christened Titanic and a bottle of champagne was broken over her bow.

False. The White Star Line did not have naming ceremonies for any of their ships.

4. All passengers were bound for New York.

False. Fifteen first class passengers and nine second class passengers disembarked at the first port call, Cherbourg, France. A canary made the short trip as well, costing its owner 25 cents for the voyage across the English Channel from Southampton. At the second port call in Queenstown, Ireland, seven passengers disembarked.


One of two tenders used to transport passengers to and from Titanic at Cherbourg

5. There was a grand ballroom for first class passengers.

False. There was no organized dancing onboard, although many steerage passengers danced to the lively music in the third class general room provided by passengers who had brought their instruments along.


Part of the third class general room

6. Only the RMS Carpathia responded to Titanic’s distress call after the collision with the iceberg.

False. Three ships responded—the Olympic, the Frankfurt, and the Carpathia. The Carpathia was the closest at 58 miles away. Captain Smith of the Titanic knew it would not reach Titanic in time before she sank.


RMS Carpathia

7. Third class passengers could not reach the Boat Deck because they were locked behind gates.

False. Some of the gates were not locked. A few that were locked were opened by stewards after the collision. They helped guide women and children to the upper decks, but some of the women refused to leave the men. For others, language barriers and the maze of passageways below decks made it very difficult for steerage passengers to find their way. By the time they reached the Boat Deck, most lifeboats had already gone.

8. The Titanic sank intact.

False. The ship broke in half just prior to sinking. Many eyewitnesses had stated this, and it was proven when the wreck was finally explored.


Artist rendering of Titanic breaking in half prior to sinking

9. The iceberg made a long gash in the ship’s hull.

False. The iceberg scraped and bumped the riveted plates, causing the rivets to pop open and water to rush in. Again, this was discovered during the wreck exploration.

10. Due in part to the Titanic tragedy, cruise ships today are required to have enough lifeboats for all passengers on board.

Partly false. Modern ships are required by law to carry enough lifeboats for every passenger and crew member on board, plus 25%.