The first voyage of a new ship-its maiden voyage-is always an important occasion, and the Titanic’s was no exception. The ship arrived in Southampton, England, on April 3, 1912, after an overnight voyage from Belfast, Northern Ireland. For the next week, the dockside bustled with activity as the crew was enlisted, and the mountain of supplies needed for the voyage was loaded on board. At last, the great day arrived, and on the morning of April 10, 1914, passengers boarded the ship. At noon, the ship slipped its moorings and began to pick up speed. The maiden voyage had begun.
SOUTH WESTERN HOTEL
A number of the wealthier passengers spent the night before the voyage in the South Western Hotel, Southampton, overlooking Titanic’s dock. Among those who enjoyed the hotel’s luxury was Bruce Ismay, chairman of the White Star Line, and his family.
On the morning of the Titanic‘s departure, crowds gathered to wave goodbye to friends and relatives. Cries of, “Good luck Titanic,“ resounded as the ship slipped its moorings and set off on its first, and final, journey.
The first voyage of the Titanic was a short series of sea trials in Belfast Lough, on April 2, 1912. During the trials the engines were tested, the ship was maneuvered at different speeds, and an emergency stop was conducted, bringing the ship to a halt in about half a mile (1 km) after traveling at 20 knots (22 mph/37 kph). The ship left that evening for Southampton and began its maiden voyage eight days later.
The Titanic’s route took the ship across the English Channel to Cherbourg, France, where more passengers boarded. During the night, the ship recrossed the Channel to Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland. On the afternoon of April 11, the Titanic finally left Europe behind and set off across the North Atlantic for New York.
A NEAR MISS
As tugs maneuvered the Titanic out of its dock, the ship began to pick up speed as it passed the moored New York. Wash from the Titanic’s engines caused the New York to break free of its moorings and swing out in front of the Titanic. Quick action by the tugs averted a collision, but it was an ominous start to the maiden voyage.
“The ship is so big that I have not yet found my way about. I hope I shan’t get lost on board before I arrive in New York!”
FAREWELL TO EUROPE
The Titanic made a brief stop at Queenstown, Ireland, anchoring offshore to pick up seven second-class and 113 steerage (third-class) passengers and more bags of mail. Many of the steerage passengers were leaving Ireland to start a new life in the United States.