Have you ever been on a cruise?  I have.  If you have, you may have noticed there’s a difference between ships of different classes.

Bruce is all about studying ships, especially cruise ships.  He knows the length and breadth and number of passengers for each one!

I’m sure you’re wondering why that might be of interest to him.  It’s because he dreams of going on a cruise.  I should rephrase that.  He dreams of going on another cruise.  When we’ve finished booking one, he’s lobbying for the next.

I’m not so quick to jump on the ship.  (1) I have genealogy work to do (remember those ancestors that keep bugging me?) and it’s really hard to do it on a cruise ship.  (2) I get seasick,  really seasick.  We’ve been able to determine that the bigger the ship (and more modern), the less seasick I get because the newer, bigger ships have big stabilizers which are like giant wings under the water that spread out to keep the ship steady.  I kid you not!

So, I won’t get on a cruise ship unless it’s at least 900 feet long, preferably 1000 feet.  We also get an inside cabin in the middle of the ship so there’s less rock forward and back, and side to side.  It is cheaper than an outside cabin, so we save money there.  Some people hate inside cabins because they need a window looking out.  With a window what you see is a lot of water.  It’s really pretty, but for the increased price I can go up on deck to see it and save money for something else.

One downside of an inside cabin is that I do need light to wake me up.  Without a window our room would stay dark all day and I’d sleep through the whole day.  So, we found a solution:  At night before we go to bed we turn on our cabin television and put it on the channel with the ship’s bow camera (it beams to our TV the things you can see from the bow of the ship), and mute the sound, then as daylight dawns, our cabin lights up as well.

Why am I telling you all this?  Because you really should study the ship on which your ancestor sailed.  It makes for great detail, that flesh on the bones stuff we talked about in an earlier post.  If you have the number of passengers, the size of the ship, you can determine if  your ancestor was crammed in like sardines or had room enough to move around and breathe some fresh air.

There are some websites that have a collection of ship descriptions, some with images!  Here’s a few:

  • “Magellan – The Ship Encyclopedia”
  • “Passenger Ships and Images.” Ancestry.com  has over 1,000 ship descriptions in this collection.
  • 100 Years of Emigrant Ships from Norway, “Index of Departures 1825-1925” sponsored by NorwayHeritage.com
  • After this blog posted, Sue McCormick added another site: The Ships List.  Sue remarked that “the Ship’s Lists has immigration listings, drawings of ship types, and drawings of many specific ships that carried immigrants to ports away from Europe. You can post questions concerning emmigration (oirts if deoartyre) and immigration (ports of arrival) and also questions about specific ships.  Several dedicated people will do lookups for specific ships and specific voyages.”

If all else fails, try Googling the name of the ship and see what comes up!

Now that you’ve spent all this time learning about your ancestor’s ship, maybe you can lobby for a cruise so you can “experience” some of what your ancestor went through. Just bring along some Meclizine if you have a queasy stomach!