Space precludes the possibility of mentioning all the tourist agencies and shipping lines that will furnish you with accommodations. The main point is to choose your steamer as early as possible. Steamship companies have a way of serving best those who come first, and there is often quite a wide choice of staterooms or berths within a single minimum price. Unless you just must hurry, you will find the slower boats not only cheaper but in some ways more comfortable. A ship that carries freight, being heavily laden, is less likely to roll and pitch, and in several other ways make your crossing pleasant, unless your happiness depends upon a constant social whirl.
The fast boats often have a very disagreeable vibration, particularly toward the stern, where second or tourist third class is likely to be located.
The ship having been chosen, remember that the nearer you are to the heart of the vessel, the less pitch and roll. Some travelers prefer as much of that as possible; most do not. For the latter an inside cabin in the center of the ship will be preferable to an outside de luxe suite on the topmost deck as far forward as cabins run. Give the ship’s diagram that will be shown you a careful scrutiny for minor drawbacks. If your cabin is opposite a public bathroom, you may hear the bathroom door slamming all night. Avoid undue proximity to the dining-room or the pantry where dishes are more or less constantly rattling. Find out if possible whether an air funnel or some other necessary thing in a ship’s equipment runs through your cabin and reduces its space and convenience. Usually, unless you have husband or wife or friend with you, you will have to take pot luck on the companion you will be berthed with during the journey. But a little discussion on this subject with the booking clerk is sometimes not time wasted.
Classes of accommodation on steamships to most parts of the world are really more than three in number. In first class there is everything from the deluxe suite on the fastest and most expensive liners to the minimum-price inside cabin of the slower and more comfortable ships. Second class on some of the better boats is all anyone should demand, unless your soul is irked by the prohibition of being asked to keep out of certain parts of the vessel. Between these two classes are the so-called one-cabin ships, which carry passengers only in one class, or only in first and third. In general, accommodations on these “mono-class” steamers correspond in price and what you get for it with the best second class in the finest liners, with the added advantage that you have no one on board who is “better than you are.” It is now possible to go from New York to London for as little as $100 ($125 with private bath), by taking one of several steamers that give their main attention to freight. That does not at all mean that passengers are neglected on them. Usually these ships have little roll, room for long walks and to move deck chairs about at will, and quite all that any reasonable person needs in the way of food and comfortable sleeping and bathing facilities.
Tourist third cabin has become very popular of late, and the round trip to Europe averages around $170. The single trip is quite a little more than half that. Though the raison d’etre of this new departure is that our immigration laws make it impossible any longer to fill the space once allotted to real third class, the new form of accommodations has very little in common with the “steerage” of an earlier day. The tourist third class traveler has his own deck chair, space for walks and deck sports, social hall and smoking room, good food, table cloths and napkins that are frequently changed.
Generally a deposit of 25% of the price of a berth or of a tour is required at the time of reservation. In “mono-class,” second class and tourist third class the deposit is usually $25. The sooner you make this the surer you are of good accommodations. The rest is expected to be paid from six to three weeks before sailing. If you find you cannot go, the company will do its best to transfer you to another ship or tour that fits your plans. Failing that, your space will be placed on sale, and if sold the company usually refunds the full deposit less a five or ten per cent cancellation fee. Many companies return the deposit intact if requested more than three weeks before sailing. Some of them keep all the deposit if cancellation is asked too late to sell the accommodations to someone else.
In booking for the outward journey, especially to Europe, do not overlook the matter of getting home again. Particularly if you plan to return from almost anywhere in Europe during the early autumn you may be grievously disappointed, and seriously embarrassed, if you do not reserve your return accommodations before leaving home. There are other routes that are sometimes overcrowded at certain seasons. Make sure to inquire about this before leaving home. For you not only run the risk of not being back when you wish or are obliged to be back but you will assure yourself better quarters than you may be able to obtain abroad by reserving or buying before you sail. On the other hand, if you are traveling against the crow&, going to Europe in the autumn and returning in the early summer, for instance, you will probably do better to put off buying the return ticket until two or three weeks before leaving. For not only will you be able to choose the ship that best suits your plans at that moment, but you may get a better cabin at minimum rates.