MAIL, sent to you on the steamer will be at the purser’s office. It is well to inquire there whether you expect any or not. The same is true of telegrams and the books, flowers or fruit your friends may have sent. Paper and envelopes, telegraph and radio blanks, will be found in the Social Hall or Smoking Room, or will be supplied by the stewards. Either mail or telegrams may be sent ashore with the pilot an hour or two after sailing, and will be promptly mailed. Stamps at the purser’s office, or from the saloon steward.
RADIOGRAMS may be sent from the ship to other ships or to land. Inquire at the purser’s office, or of the radio operator direct.
As soon as convenient after coming on board, arrange with the deck steward for your deck chair and rug. On most single trips these are now rented at $1.50 each ; on tours or longer journeys this item may reach $2.50 each. If crossing either the North Atlantic or the North Pacific by the short route, have your chair placed on the southern side of the shipstarboard on the way to Europe, port on the way west; vice versa in returning. On other trips consider the weather to be expected, and the climate. Your chair will remain in the same spot during the voyage. The exception to this is when there are so few passengers compared to the deck space that one’s chair may be moved about at will. Unless that is the case, a northern exposure may be very dreary, in northern latitudes, and a southern one below the line. About the equator the side most often away from the sun is preferable. The steward can indicate which are to be the quiet corners and which the most garrulous social rendezvous.
No less important is an early interview with the, BATH STEWARD. Select a convenient hour for your morning bath before all the convenient hours are taken. Each passenger is allowed from fifteen to twenty minutes on ships with the usual passenger list. The steward will call you at the hour your bath is ready each morning. Do not plan to dress or undress in the bathroom; hence the necessity of a bathrobe, kimono, or raincoat and slippers for such occasions. On Japanese steamers rubber slippers are furnished. Specify the temperature of bath you wish. Note that the time will change at midnight, so that in traveling eastward your bath will come half an hour or more earlier every morning, and correspondingly later in going west.
LAUNDRY to a limited amount may be done on board most passenger steamers. Ask your room steward. Other services include a BARBER for men (who usually also keeps a miniature drug and notion store) and a HAIRDRESSING SALON for ladies. On nearly all ships the English custom of placing the shoes outside the state-room door for cleaning upon retiring prevails.
Interview the DINING ROOM STEWARD early as to your seat at table. Usually the first meal is without formal seating arrangement but after that you will use the same place throughout the voyage. If you wish to be seated with certain persons, mention it. If you prefer not to be seated with others, mention that also. Many ships now have the small tables customary in restaurants, and in that case nothing is gained by asking to be seated at a specific officer’s table. The captain chooses those who are to be placed at his table anyway, and seats at most officers’ tables are by invitation. Naturally, if you are subject to seasickness, your place is near the entrance. In second-class and tourist third class, where the old-fashioned system of long tables sometimes still prevails, the seats near the center of the table are preferable to those at the ends.
On most passenger ships gentlemen wear tuxedo for dinner, except on the first and last nights of the voyage. Ladies wear corresponding costumes, rarely grande toilette. In the other classes ordinary business dress is the all but universal rule. No formality in dress is ordinarily expected at luncheon or afternoon tea.
The TIME OF MEALS is closely fixed on most steamers. Some passengers find the meals too close together. Break-fast is frequently not until nine, and dinner at 6:30 or seven. On most steamers CHILDREN are expected to eat at Children’s table half an hour or more before adults. Luncheon is commonly at 12:30. It is better for several reasons not to be habitually late for meals. On crowded crossings there are two sittings and the passenger should make his choice wisely between them. The sea air is invigorating, and to await the second sitting for dinner is sometimes annoying.
Besides the regular meals, almost all ships now serve at least first-class passengers with coffee, tea or fruit early in the morning. If you do not care to be awakened for this, inform your room steward. Tea is commonly served in the dining-room (occasionally in the social hall) at about four in the afternoon. A somewhat similar collation is usually available in the evening.
Most passenger steamers serve rather too much than too little food. Breakfast is usually a combination of the full American first meal and that of Great Britain, at which more fish and meat is served than in the United States. On French and other continental European lines the continental breakfast (coffee or chocolate with a roll) is the usual rule. In that case luncheon luckily comes at eleven or 11:30. On most ships flying continental European flags ordinary wine is included with luncheon and dinner. Better vintages on such ships, and all wines on British ships, are at the passenger’s expense. The same is true of mineral waters on all ships. Passengers need not pay cash for such beverages, but may sign a slip, which will be presented for payment on the last day of the voyage. The same is true of beverages, tobaccos, and the like, purchased in the smoking room.
The same table steward commonly serves you through-out the voyage or cruise. If you prefer to be served in your stateroom, the task falls to the room steward; if on deck, to the deck steward. The serving is similar to that in the better-class restaurants ashore.
Do NOT PESTER ship’s officers with unnecessary and unanswerable questions. The captain especially has other things on his mind. The preferable victims are the purser or chief steward, who have no responsibilities in navigating the ship.
The right side of the ship, looking forward, is Star-board; the other side is Port (formerly called Larboard, until the difficulty of distinguishing the two names in a gale brought about reform). At night a red light is set on the port side near the bow and a green one on the starboard, while a white light hangs high in the center rigging.
Passengers are not expected to mount to the bridge (the narrow deck used by the navigating officers) to enter the wheel-house, the engineroom, or the stoke-hole, without official permission.
Ships are measured by three kinds of TONNAGEgross, net and displacement. The first is the internal capacity below the maindeck, in tons of 100 cubic feet. Net tonnage is the gross tonnage less all spaces used for anything except cargo. Displacement tonnage is the total weight of water displaced by the ship when loaded to capacity. In advertisements do not be misled as to the size of a ship when merely “tonnage,” without any qualifying adjective, is used. A ship of 20,000 gross tonnage is not necessarily larger than one of 15,000 net tonnage.
Ships eastbound overhaul the sun from half an hour to an hour each twenty-four hours. In almost all cases the clocks are set forward at midnight to make up for this. Westbound ships do the reverse. Travelers west-ward, therefore, have at least an hour more sleep nightly than those going east. Ships crossing the Pacific lose a full day, westbound, and gain a full day, eastbound, in crossing the 180th meridian, halfway around the globe from Greenwich. On some ships the gained day is called “Meridian Day,” while others calmly follow a Friday by another Friday, or whatever the day of the week.
While at sea sailors work alternate four-hour shifts during the entire twenty-four hours. These watches are divided into “bells,” half an hour apart. “Eight bells,” therefore, may be noon, 4 P.M., 8 P.M., midnight, 4 A.M., or 8 A.M. At those hours the “bells” start over again, increasing one every half hour until another four-hour period is over.
Every passenger or member of a ship’s crew has a definite lifeboat assigned to him in case of shipwreck, rare as that is nowadays. If you do not find this information posted on your stateroom, find out which boat you are expected to occupy and familiarize yourself with its position and the shortest way to it. If disaster should happen, you are safer in obeying the officers implicitly than in losing your head or attempting to take command yourself.
When a ship crosses the equator those passengers who have not already done so are expected to submit to the ministrations of FATHER NEPTUNE. This may consist of a ducking, a pastebrush shaving, or some other good reason to be dressed in one’s oldest garments.
SEASICKNESS IS most likely to visit those who are sure they will be subject to it. The standard remedy is Mothersills, to be had in most drug stores, which are known in English-speaking circles in Europe as “chemist’s shops.” Champagne often proves effective. Remain on deck, promenade if possible, and avoid the stateroom or the smoking room when threatened with this annoyance. Lemons may usually be had through a steward. Heavy eating should be avoided until this danger is over, but total fasting is not recommended.
There is a LIBRARY on most regular passenger ships. A steward usually has the bookshelf keys, and will probably expect your signature. Do not leave your own or ship’s books lying in the deck chair at night.
The services of the SHIP’S DOCTOR are free for seasickness (for which he ordinarily can do very little) but of late years he usually expects a fee similar to that on shore for all other ailments. On some ships this has become a source of depleting the traveler’s funds, and double or triple as much is charged for visiting a patient in his own stateroom as for a call at the doctor’s quarters a few steps away. American ships are the worst offenders in this particular.
Of the DECK SPORTS available to the passenger, the most popular is the simple game of shuffleboard. Deck golf, rope quoits, deck tennis, and simple athletic carnivals come next in order. On better ships orchestra plays during dinner, perhaps at tea time, and for dancing in the evening. Most cruises include at least one fancy dress festival during the voyage. The final social event of any voyage may be the so-called captain’s dinner, but is more likely nowadays to be the CONCERT. Some passenger either takes upon himself, or has wished upon him, the task of enlisting all possible talent for this event, and only those who stoutly deny any social accomplishment whatever ordinarily escape doing their share toward the saloon merriment. One need not be a world famed diva to be acceptable at this function. A collection is taken for the maintenance of disabled sailors, widows or orphans of former seafarers. If charity is in your line, this is a worthy cause.
Daily pools on the ship’s run are open to those who are interested in games of chance. The most common custom is to post in the smoking room one or several pools. Each player chooses a number ending in any figure from 0 to 9, paying an entrance fee of from $1 to $100. Only ten persons may take part in the game, obviously. But there are usually pools enough to supply the demand, and there is nothing to hinder one person from entering several of them. Soon after noon, when the reckoning is taken from the bridge, the official mile-age for the past 24 hours is posted on the bulletin board, and the man whose choice of a number corresponds with the last figure in the posted run wins the pool. Ten per cent of the winnings are commonly awarded the smoking room steward. The figures for the run, by the way, are not in miles but in nautical knots (6080 feet). Pools on the full amount of the day’s run are also available, the entrant whose guess is nearest the distance covered taking the pot.
In addition to these honest and more or less pleasant forms of gambling, there are the standard games of chance on most liners. Beware PROFESSIONAL GAMBLERS in this connection. Very plausible gentlemen, who gently admit themselves men of wealth or of high social standing, travel more or less constantly bark and forth across the Atlantic, and not infrequently on other popular runs, seeking whom they may inveigle into trying their luck with marked cards or loaded dice.