At the beginning of the 20th century, the shipping route across the Atlantic was extremely popular, driven by waves of European emigrants from all parts of Europe to the United States. Travel on these liners was not a recreational cruise but merely a means of transport between the two continents. The crossing took around five days when these photographs were taken.
Liners were divided by economic class, and for first-class passengers, life on an ocean liner was dreamy. Luxury transatlantic travel reached its zenith, with the waters dominated by the British companies Cunard and the White Star Line, as well as the French Line Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (CGT).
A trip between New York and London took close to two weeks, and first-class travelers, accustomed to the luxuries provided by grand, five-star hotels, came to expect the same level of service at sea. And they were not disappointed.
With the finest menus and limited opportunities for walking, some method of exercise was necessary. First-class passengers aboard the Titanic had access not only to squash courts and Turkish baths but to another amenity, as well: a shipboard gymnasium. The facility, shown in the pictures below, featured the 1912 versions of equipment that will be familiar to modern-day gym-goers, among them stationary bikes and rowing machines.
The gym was open for women between 9:00 am and noon, and for men between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm. (Children were allowed inside only between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm.) The facility was presided over by the Titanic’s physical educator, Thomas McCauley, who, in the early morning of April 15, remained at his post as the ship sank.
(Photo credit: Image: Popperfoto / Universal Images Group / Getty Images).