Colorized Photos of the RMS Titanic Showing What Life Was Really Like On Board Just Days Before It Sank

Tue Mar 31 2020

The true story of what happened to the RMS Titanic is as extraordinary as it is emotional, and familiar to most of us through the epic 1997 film. It was on April 15th of 1912 that the British passenger liner sank in the North Atlantic Ocean after hitting an iceberg. The ambitious voyage was only a few days into its journey from Southampton, UK, to New York City.

Real photos of the actual passenger liner, its rooms, and the people on board the ship have been colorized for us to really get a sense of what it was like. Now more than ever, the legendary Titanic has been brought to life through these edits, and the results are more moving than you might expect.

Aye Aye Captain Smith

For such an ambitious and high-ticket item, they had to bring in the best captain for the Titanic that money could buy. They employed Captain Smith who was taking in earnings of 105 Great British pounds a week; approximately twice as much of an average ship captain.

Here Captain Smith poses for the camera proudly in his pristine white suit. He was already pretty famous before the Titanic, too. He was a specialist in handling the largest of ships and now he’d been given what was expected to be the most famous ship of all. It turned out to be just that, but not for the reasons they’d hoped.

A Grand Staircase Reserved for the Elite

One of the most memorable locations on the ship from Titanic is the grand staircase. On the actual ship, there were two main staircases for different passengers. One was designated for the second-class passengers on the ship while the grand staircase was reserved for the elite passengers with a first-class ticket.

As we can see, this wasn’t like your average staircase. It was incredibly ornate, featuring gorgeous oak paneling throughout the entire room. The Ireland-based company Harland and Wolff were hired to create these custom wood decorations. The oak really was as highly polished as it appeared in the film.

Working off Those Snacks

The Titanic makers thought of everything. The elite passengers might want to work off some of those before dinner snacks they consumed in the tea room, for which they could come to the on board gym. The ship was so large it had room for amenities like this; the gentleman in the photo is using a rowing machine!

This gentleman had no idea at the time that his rowing exercises would be essential in the days to come. But there were other machines available, such as an electric camel, cycling machines and an electric horse. But, as we said, most passengers wouldn’t have been granted access to this exclusive gymnasium.

Sitting Room Luxury in a First Class Cabin

Take a look at the splendor that first-class cabin dwellers were subjected to. This is a private sitting room attached to a first-class suite, where passengers could lounge around on their own. There is even a working fireplace for those chilly nights. But of course, this was only available to those who paid high ticket prices.

Surprisingly, these passengers were also given 50% off on tickets for children and pets. You wouldn’t think they’d need a discount but there it is nonetheless! The second and third class quarters were not as well equipped to deal with the very cold temperatures they would experience over the Atlantic Ocean.

A Romantic Adventure

There were over 2000 people on board the RMS Titanic. 2233 people, to be exact. Of that, 706 people survived – 492 passengers and 214 crew members. Of the 2000+ people, 13 couples were celebrating their honeymoon on the fateful voyage.

Being on the Titanic as a first-class ticket holder was supposed to be a luxury experience, which is why people opted to take their honeymoon on board the ship. Apparently, upon their arrival, newlywed couples were greeted with champagne and roses.

A Socialite’s Dream

The Titanic was so large, it had room to give certain parts of it a theme. One of the tea rooms was called Cafe Parisien as it was furnished with a romantic French touch. It would have been a lot of fun to take your tea and cake in this cutely decorated space. They also served high-class food such as oysters, vanilla eclairs, salmon, and roasted duck.

This was also another hotspot for the elite passengers, as they could share a drink with their friends in a fun and social setting. and with a view out of the window overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, it would have been a once in a lifetime experience.

Charlotte’s Emotional Ordeal

Second passenger Charlotte Collyer and her daughter Marjorie were passengers on the infamous ship. They were from England and were journeying their way to Idaho in order to start a new life. They weren’t alone when they left – Charlotte’s husband was with them at first. Unfortunately, he didn’t survive the sinking.

These two did survive, and the moment they stepped foot in the US reporters were taking their photos and asking for their story. Out of all of those recorded, Charlotte’s story was the most emotional and the most detailed. She revealed how she was lucky to have even had a place on lifeboat number 14, to begin with. In the end, she and her daughter moved back to England as they had lost their life savings in the sinking.

Waving off the Passengers

A ticket on the RMS Titanic was so sought for that crowds came to wave the passengers off and see them depart. They were made up of family members, friends, and locals who just wanted to witness the momentous occasion. It was always going to be a historical journey.

Unfortunately, this voyage made the history books for all the wrong reasons. Little did the people on the dock know that they were in the fortunate position of not having boarded the ship at all.

Girls Only

The room below was particularly exclusive, as not every first-class passenger was even allowed in. It was the females-only rooms where women could come and relax amongst each other and away from men! Open between the hours of 8 am and 11:30 pm, a female passenger with a first-class ticket could spend all her day away from male passengers if she wanted to.

To give it that feminine touch, the room had plum-pink soft furnishings such as the carpets, rugs, and curtains. The room itself was painted white which kept it feeling light and airy, and it was generally meant to be a quieter place to wind down.

The World in Mourning

As you can imagine, when the news got out that the Titanic had sunk in the Atlantic ocean, the whole world was beside itself. It was discussed for weeks both in person and in the papers. In this image, a young boy holds up an Evening News headline that reads “Titanic Disaster Great Loss of Life.”

The Titanic didn’t draw enough criticism before it set sail. People were too excited by its ambitious desires and intimidating magnitude. Unfortunately, their blindness to the dangers of the ship was its downfall. The Titanic was not properly equipped to face the realities of the ocean.

You Couldn’t Get Fresher Air Than This

First-class passengers were welcome to come above deck and take a stroll along the top of the giant ship. If they didn’t fancy walking, they could take a seat on a bench or in one of the reclining chairs available. They were free to take in the gorgeous views of the Atlantic ocean but would have to deal with the fact that it could get pretty chilly.

But they would have had staff members paroling the deck offering them tea to warm themselves up. They would also be offered other kinds of assistance, such as help with their lounge chairs. But at night, the deck would clear. It was too cold to be outside when the sun went down.

An On Board Health Club

Take a look at this image of the spacious gymnasium downstairs. The ceilings were high and made the room feel breathable, and each machine had its place. Here we can see the workout machines that were available to the first-class ticket holders. This image, in particular, is eerie because we can see the rowing machines.

As well as a private gymnasium, there was a pool. It was intended for laps rather than for leisure but was still an incredibly tremendous luxury and accomplishment. The Titanic also had Turkish baths but, once again, they were only available to the elite passengers.

A State of the Art Wheelhouse

For such a prestigious ship, it naturally had to have a state of the art wheelhouse for Captain Smith. The Captain was renowned for handling the largest of ships, and they gave him a grand wheelhouse to do just that when commanding the Titanic.

It is interesting to see that as Captain Smith was so reputable and highly respected, the ship makers made him what was essentially a luxury wheelhouse. Even for a crew member, no expense was spared in the making of the RMS Titanic.

Everyone Had Their Reasons for Being There

As the largest ship to date, it boasted a huge number of rooms. With 2233 people (including staff and crew members,) approximately 350 of the passengers were first-class ticket holders. A lot of elite members of society tried their hardest to get a hold of one of the exclusive tickets.

There were second and third-class passengers too, much of whom were boarding the ship in search of a new life in the United States of America. They were expensive tickets still, so there were those that were giving most of their life savings away for a chance of something better across the ocean.

The Third-Class Catering Experience

Take a look at how different catering was for the third class passengers of the ship, compared to the first-class. There are far fewer bells and whistles in the cafeteria-like room where people would take their supper. The ceilings are noticeably lower and the room isn’t furnished anywhere near the standard of the first class.

Nonetheless, third-class passengers spoke highly of their experience on board the Titanic. The standards were still good, and survivors have spoken highly of things like the table setting and the silverware, some of which was the finest they had ever seen. The food they would take in this room included roast beef, baked potatoes, vegetable stew, and porridge.

Titanic Survivors Approaching the Rescue Ship

Those who were lucky enough to find themselves in a lifeboat when the Titanic started sinking have told how they waited in the middle of the ocean for two hours until the RMS Carpathia came to their rescue. The Captain of the Carpathia had received the distress signals sent from the Titanic and voyaged over to help as many as possible.

It was a quarter to midnight when the first lifeboat was released from the sinking ship. It was 2:15 am when the Titanic completely capsized, and as many lifeboats as possible had been released. The passengers were left in the freezing cold in the middle of the night, hoping to be saved.

The Crucial Crossbeam

Take a look at the crossbeam that was installed within the middle of the huge ship. It’s pretty sizeable itself, having to be the anchor point for all the other components of the Titanic. It was imperative that the ship had a strong foundation.

Construction on the ocean line began on March 31, 1909. The process of building the ship took about 26 months, at which point all the parts had been moved to the Belfast shipyard. A staggering 3000 man worked on building the Titanic with, unfortunately, eight of those men losing their lives on the job.

Five Star Service

Ticket holders had long anticipated what the Titanic experience would be like. And from the moment they first boarded the ship, they were greeted with a luxury experience. Upon boarding, the first-class passengers were ushered into an elaborately decorated room with white paneling and a meticulously carved ceiling.

They were then greeted by ship staff, who personally escorted each of them to their private rooms. As soon as the elite passengers stepped foot onto the ship they were met with the first-class experience. The service was supposed to be seamless and five star.

Second-Class Dwellings

Take a look at how the second-class passengers were living. In this photo, we’re seeing the lounge area reserved for their ticket-type. As we can see, they were still afforded some luxury. Games were often played in these rooms such as shuffleboard or ring toss, or guests would opt to smoke and chat instead.

Despite what this glamorous room might suggest, the second class passengers did have a wholly different experience to those in the first class. They didn’t have anywhere near as many activities, but most people weren’t complaining. Socializing was the main event in which every class was engaged.

Butler Bedrooms

Take a look at one of the bed chambers attached to the rooms of a first-class passenger. This room was a smaller room that connected the main bedroom. It is thought that these rooms were occupied by children who boarded with parents, or passengers who opted to bring their butlers on board with them.

It’s a feature we’re familiar with in hotels today, but back in the day, it was a great luxury to have one bedroom open out into another. The third-class passengers, and some second class, simply slept on bunk beds in tiny rooms that were shared with other passengers.

The Man Who Spotted the Iceberg

Frederic Fleet was the crewman who spotted the danger ahead. He was stationed on the lookout at the time, but he wasn’t alone. His fellow crewman Lee was also with him but failed to see the iceberg. Frederic was the one to call out “Iceberg, straight ahead!” and alert the captain. He was one of the passengers who survived the sinking.

He gave a testimony in which he admitted that they could have seen the iceberg sooner due to the binoculars they had received. “We could have seen it (the iceberg) a bit sooner,” he admitted, adding “Well, enough to get out of the way.” In the years following the tragedy, Frederic had a hard time carrying on as he blamed himself for having not spotted the iceberg sooner.

The Captain Chose to Have Fewer Lifeboats

Not only did they not expect to be hit by such as large iceberg, but they also weren’t prepared enough for it. Captain Smith did not survive the sinking, but he is held accountable for having skipped out on crucial safety measures that could have saved a lot more lives. There were enough life jackets on the ship, but there were only 20 lifeboats.

It came out later that the ship had the capacity to hold many more lifeboats – 64 to be exact. Captains Smith decided that it wasn’t a necessary measure, and as a result, only 31.6% of the passengers survived the sinking. A great deal more could have been saved had more lifeboats been available.

An Exclusive Turkish Bath

One of the great luxuries afforded to the first-class passengers was access to the Turkish bath. It would have been one of the most exclusive experiences (as it would be today) and consisted of one of the many amenities to help spoil the wealthy passengers.

A Turkish bath is not unlike a sauna, in that it is a steamy, humid room where a group of people can go to relax. There is also a pool of warm water for cleansing and reducing muscle tension, similar to what a jacuzzi is used for (without the bubbles!) The Ottoman-style tile work and gorgeous attention to detail all added to the Turkish bath experience.

The Captain That Saved so Many Lives

This photo captures the moment that Captain Arthur Rostron of The Carpathia was awarded a trophy recognizing his extreme courage. He went above his duty to rescue the stranded passengers of the Titanic and ended up saving the lives of 705 people. The woman handing him the trophy is Margret Molly Brown.

It was thanks to the radio operator of the Titanic that the 705 passengers were even found, to begin with. He was sending out distress signals until the last moments of his life. It took the Captain three and a half hours to arrive from the time he caught the signals, at which point the Titanic had already sunk. From there, he took on board the 700+ people he could rescue.

Engine Building in Process

In this photo, we get to go behind the scenes of the mechanical shipbuilding warehouse. We can see the complicated mechanism that went inside the Titanic – the engine. It is 1911, and the ship is still in the process of being built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard at Belfast, Northern Ireland.

One of the shipyard workers stands beside the great engine, giving us an idea of its magnitude. It becomes less surprising that there was so much hype built up around the Titanic when you see the scale they were working on. Nothing this big had ever been attempted before.

The Lifeboats Weren’t Full

This photo was taken of some of the stranded passengers in a lifeboat as they approached the ship that rescued them. Even though 705 people were saved, there could have been more that survived. The truth is, the first lifeboat that went out wasn’t even full.

The crew did not fill the boats to their maximum as people held doubts about what was safer. Some weren’t sure it was safer to leave the ship. The first boat held only 25 people despite the fact that many more could fit. 31.6% of the passengers survived but had all the boats been filled to the max, 51% could have survived.

The Titanic Movie That Came out Too Soon

The unspoken rule of there needing to be a certain amount of time until subjects can be trivialized applied back then, too. Nonetheless, the movie Saved from the Titanic was released less than a month after the tragedy, thought by many to have been made far too close to the event.

It was a silent movie, and starred an actual survivor from the Titanic sinking, Dorothy Gibson! Needless to say, they were just as shocked back then that she had agreed to take part in the film so soon after the event.

The Titanic’s Radio Operator

The young man in this picture is the radio operator working on the ship in its dedicated room. It was the radio room, but it did have many important purposes. One of the operators’ primary duties was to send periodic signals about the Titanic’s status. As the Titanic started sinking, the radio operator woke up and rushed to the radio room.

He sent out distress signals in the hopes that it would reach anyone who could help them in their time of need. He was stationed by his post until the very end of his life, opting to try his hardest to get help for the passengers rather than rush to a lifeboat. After the Titanic sank, it became mandatory for radio operators to work around a 24/7 rotatuon, ensuring full-time coverage.

First-Class Cost How Much?

At the time, a room like this one would have set you back 870 euros. In today’s currency that’s equivalent to a staggering 78,000 dollars. These exclusive cabins were decorated to imitate various historical periods. For example, period designs could be from the time of King Louis XVI, King Louis XV, Queen Anne, or Georgian.

If we were to enter a hotel room like this today we would probably consider it dated. But back in those days, they were considered wonderfully decadent. The first-class passengers were invited to live like royalty from a different era in plush fabrics and jewel-tone colors.

The Titanic Was Viral

This image captures the great hull of the Titanic while it is still being pieced together at the Harland and Wolff shipyard at Belfast, Northern Ireland. Even while the ship was being built, the Titanic received a huge amount of press coverage. In today’s world, it would be considered a viral sensation.

It was a symbol of status to be able to get your hands on one of the coveted tickets. And it’s ironic in hindsight to consider the fact that these passengers were once considered extremely lucky. In hindsight, we know that it would have been the last stroke of luck they had.

Needing Actual Horse Power

As one of the largest ships of all time, it was one of the hardest to build. The shipyard in Ireland employed over three thousand men to help build the Titanic, but even that wasn’t enough. It was before the days of trucks and lorries when they would rely on horses to help carry heavy loads.

To try and understand the sheer weight of the Titanic, the ship’s main anchor took 20 horses to pull. A project like this is far more possible with today’s technology, but in 1911 it was a far more difficult task.

The Third Class Lounge

We’ve seen the comfort of a first-class sitting area; now take a look at how the third-class lived in a shared lounging area. It is considerably less glamorous, having none of the colorful decor and plentiful soft furnishings of the first class.

The ceilings are much lower and the rooms darker and more simple. It was quite common for the room to be crowded with people, and has been described by those who were there as hard to enjoy. After all, they weren’t there to have an exciting experience but to reach the destination and have a new beginning.

The Most Elite Cabin

Among the first-class cabins, there were some even more prestigious rooms reserved for the extra-elite. Those who could afford it would experience the more luxurious cabins that were somehow even fancier than the rest. As we can see from the image, no detail was spared for the bed below.

These special cabins were interconnected with a private deck that only they could access. They would have been the most envied passengers on board the Titanic, that is until they hit the iceberg. These rooms were located on Deck B where the fewest passengers survived the sinking. They turned out to be the least fortunate of them all.

The Irish Lace Lady

Here’s an image of one of the third-class passengers, an Irish woman, actually selling lace on board the ship. She had stationed herself outside, where she displayed some of her cuttings and gently approached passioners There was a lot of time to pass on the Titanic, and third-class passengers were known to try and earn a quick buck or two.

She would have prepared to sell this lace before boarding the ship, knowing that she could be in the market while everyone is sailing across the ocean. It was a good way to pass the time on a journey that, unfortunately, didn’t end well.

The Fourth Titanic Funnel

This image is taken in the present day of one of the Titanic’s iconic smokestacks. They replicated one of them for a shocking exhibition launch in London, whereby they floated this model along the River Thames to garner attention. It certainly did its job!

It is an exact model of the fourth and last smokestack after years of decaying underwater. A group of artists and engineers were called upon to create the most realistic model of the funnel, and the result was rather spooky and nostalgic.

The First-Class Lounge

This is a far cry from the furniture in the third-class lounge. The first-class lounge was decked out in the best and brightest fabrics with elaborate designs. The rooms were considerably larger and taller, and far more spacious than the classes beneath them. They also had a lot more staff members attending to them.

It was a room for unwinding and socializing. Open from eight in the morning until 11 at night, people would catch up, play card games with each other, or smoke cigars. It really was uncomparable to the third-class lounge area.

Two Famous Titanic Children

When the Titanic started sinking, the crew instructed women and children to board the lifeboats first. Despite this, unfortunately, 60 children didn’t survive the sinking. These two young boys in the picture below were some of the lucky children who did survive the tragedy.

Michel and Edmond Navratil were placed in a lifeboat by their father, who they became separated from. Unfortunately, the dad did not survive, but these boys made it to New York. They were second-class passengers, but their mother wasn’t on board the ship with them. She was in France, and it took her two whole weeks until she could get to them in the states.

The Largest Propellers in History

Here we have an amazing shot of the hull of the ship itself. We can see the three huge front propellers with some workmen standing beneath them. In this photo, we can really get a sense of just how ambitious this project really was. Each of them was2 3 feet wide and weighed 28 tons. They’re recognized as the largest ship propellers in history.

They even outsize the propellers of today’s huge ships. The engineers determined that with the scale they were going for, they needed the Titanic to be more powerful than anything that had come before. The RMS was intended to break records, and not enough was known about the possible dangers.

Ladies Who Lunch

In this photo, we get a peek into the exclusive life of aristocrats on board the Titanic. Here, some women have come together for tea time; supposedly the most social hour on board the RMS. First-class passengers would take their tea together while a band played music in the room.

For the elite passengers who were allowed in, they were offered buttered toast, mini sandwiches, and other snacks and treats to go down with their tea. It even served alcohol as early as eight in the morning. If this setting looks familiar to you, you might recognize it from the scene in the film where Rose’s family talks about her future wedding plans.