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The Personal Finances of RMS Titanic

This Saturday, April 14, 2012, was the 100th year anniversary of the sinking of RMS Titanic. Coincidentally, CB and I were in downtown San Diego that day and so we had to visit the Titanic exhibit at the San Diego National History Musueum. We paid $19.12 per person (a special pricing the Museum did to commemorate Titanic’s year of sinking, normal pricing is $27). The exhibit, in a word, was AMAZING.

Ticket Prices on the Titanic

Far more interesting than our ticket prices, however, are the information I learned about ticket prices for the scheduled 7-day passage on the Titanic. (See this website for a great description of the rooms available on Titanic).

First Class

A First Class ticket in a single room cabin cost around $150 per person (the equivalent of $2,000 in today’s dollars). A ticket for the multi-room parlor suites is $2,500 per person in 1912, or a whopping $52,000 today! Two suites on Promenade B were the largest and most luxurious on the ship, and those cost $5,000 per person or over $100,000 today. As you can imagine, to be able to pay those prices (and most folks traveled with a retinue of valet, bulters, and servants), First Class passengers had to be among the titans of industry and wealthiest members of the Gilded Age. They are definitely among the top “one percent of the one percent.”

Second Class

A Second Class ticket cost around $60/person, or around $1,500 today. Many of the Second Class passengers were successful tradespeople, businessmen, or the clergy. Most rooms had two berths (or beds). Because Titanic’s Second Class wasn’t full, many passengers got a private room even though they only paid for a single berth in a shared room. Another plus was that the First Class and Second Class used the same galley (kitchen facilities), so the Second Class passengers shared in some delicacies such as lamb with mint jelly and plum pudding. Some of the folks who could have afforded a Second Class passage instead booked Third Class tickets to save money for their new life in America. Speaking of…

Third Class

A Third Class (or Steerage) ticket cost $40/person, or around $900 today. These folks slept in rooms that had 2 bunk beds, so four people would share a room. Titanic provided 2 bathtubs for the entire 700+ steerage passengers, one for men, and one for women. But even the the Third Class passengers enjoyed luxuries that were unavailable on other ships – for example, there were real mattresses on the Titanic, whereas straw pallets were used on other ships.

The Titanic Exhibit

The Exhibit runs to September 9, 2012. If you have any interest in the Titanic, maritime history, shipbuilding, or anything of that ilk, you would have a very worthwhile visit. I was fascinated. We saw all kinds of items salvaged from the wreck – all in remarkable condition – a leather briefcase, a lady’s hankerchief, gold necklace, a porthole(!), plenty of porcelain, lockets with pictures, a corked bottle with champagne still inside, and a half-full jar of cold cream. There were also postcards, calling cards, and a brush with the bristles still attached.

The exhibition also did a great job of telling the story of the passengers from notable people like Thomas Andrews, the ship’s designer, to lesser-known folks. At the end of the exhibit all the names of the passengers were listed in alphabetical order, divided by class, and divided by their survival status.

I jokingly asked CB which class we’d sail on. Obviously we wouldn’t have been able afford First Class, but I was kind of thinking Second Class would be a good compromise. But CB told me Third Class to save money! Hmph. In any case, if you were a man on the Titanic, your chances of survival were low. If you were not in the First Class, your chances were even lower. I believe almost 90% of men in Second Class and Third Class went down with the Titanic.

May she rest in peace.

  • addvodka - Wow, that is so interesting! And soo expensive. ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - These are all very interesting facts! And only 2 bathtubs. AH! ReplyCancel

  • Bridget - very cool post! can't believe there were suites that cost $100K in today's dollars.. insane ReplyCancel

  • WorkSaveLive - Tell CB to stop being cheap! It's only $100 more!

    That would be REALLY COOL by the way. It's actually in Kansas City and I think you've just convinced me that I need to go! ReplyCancel

  • SavvyFinancialLatina - Really cool post! Cannot believe that's how expensive first class tickets were! ReplyCancel

  • In Budgets We Trust - $900 and you had to share a tub with all of third class? I imagine bathing was not that common for third class passengers because I find it difficult to time a bathroom schedule around my two sisters. I guess cruise ship pricing had to go down when people stopped using these big boats as their main source of transportation overseas transportation


  • Jessica - I wonder how much a trans-atlantic cruise today would cost, and how the rooms and ammenities of each class compare to what is available today. It's interesting to see that a third class ticket in today's money costs about the same as an airplane ticket across the Atlantic. ReplyCancel

  • jeff sustainlifeblog - that is really expensive for those 1st class tickets, I cant believe that! For me, i'd probably push for 2nd class if I could afford it because it was a long trip. ReplyCancel

  • @momoneymohouses - $100,000! That's insane! I'd probably have to go Third Class too. ReplyCancel

  • Julie @ Freedom 48 - Amen! Thanks for the number crunching… it's enlightening to see how expensive it was.
    Now I'm thinking the price we paid for our cruise last month was pretty darn cheap! ReplyCancel

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  • Titanic exhibit in San Diego – dollars and time to cross the Atlantic « Outrun Change - […] post, The Personal Finances of RMS Titanic, describes her visit to the exhibit. My wife and I stopped by the museum on Sunday, the same day […]ReplyCancel

  • Belinda@nextpay.com - A whooping $100,000!? I can only say "WOW".

    I heard a news last month(I'm not pretty sure) that a certain rich guy wants to rebuild something like Titanic. Would you want to board? If yes, which class would you want to be in?

    Rebuiling of a new Titanic (may it be true or not), will definitely raise some brows. As for me, I would rather focus on my business and debt payments. ReplyCancel

  • Blog de finante personale: Well Heeled Blog - […] ii iese. Are multe posturi care mi-au placut despre bani pur si simplu – cum este cel despre cat au costat biletele de pe Titanic. Evident ca la sfarsit ne spune si ce bilet ar fi ales ea […]ReplyCancel

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