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The Titanic’s Route – From Shipyard to Sinking (Via Southampton, Cherbourg and Queenstown)

The Titanic has become famous as being the ‘unsinkable’ ship that did unfortunately sink. The Titanic made many successful port stops on her trip before the accident happened where she picked up passengers and supplies.

A common misconception is that the Titanic set sail from Southampton heading to New York and didn’t visit any other ports, this is not the case.

In this post we will explore where the Titanic went, what she did in each port and where she was scheduled to go.

Where Did Titanic Set Sail From?

The Titanic set sail from Southampton, England, on April 10th 1912. She was built in Belfast, Ireland, and sailed to Southampton in England for her maiden voyage. She stopped in Cherbourg in France and Queenstown in Ireland to pick up passengers, crew and supplies. Her final destination was to be New York, USA but she never completed the journey.

The Southampton – Cherbourg – New York route had become very popular by the early twentieth century. The crossing should have taken around 6 days in total.

Titanic Route Belfast, Southampton, Cherbourg, Queenstown and New York Map
Titanic’s Route (Photo: © OpenStreetMap contributors)

The return journey should have been from New York to Plymouth in England, back to Cherbourg, and finally to Southampton.

The Titanic’s Scheduled Route

ArrivalThursday 4th April, 12:00amWednesday 10th April, 6:45pmThursday 11th April, 11:30am
DepartureWednesday 10th April, 12:00pmWednesday 10th April, 8:10pmThursday 11th April, 1:55pm
Titanics Arrival and Departure times from Southampton, Cherbourg and Queenstown

Many modern cruise ships complete transatlantic crossings regularly although the route has changed slightly. To learn more about how modern cruise ships compare to the Titanic, check out this post:

Titanic vs a Modern Cruise Ship Fleet – Comparison with Photos!

White Star Line (the company that owned the Titanic) planned to offer weekly sailings in each direction, leaving Southampton on Wednesdays and New York on Saturdays. 

Both the Titanic and her sister The Olympic were scheduled to sail throughout the year, with trips booked until December.

Titanic’s First Journey – From Belfast to Southampton

The Titanic left Belfast on Tuesday 2nd April at 8pm.
She arrived into Southampton at 12:00am on Thursday 4th April.

Work on the White Star Line’s state-of-the-art luxury steamship began in March 1909 in Belfast, Ireland, at the Harland and Wolff shipyards, the Titanic was designed by Alexander Carlisle.

It took two years to complete the ship, the hull of which was the largest movable manufactured object in the world at the time.

On 31 May 1911, the Titanic was officially launched, first entering the water at the River Lagan.

After a series of sea trials, the Titanic, with only a skeleton crew, set sail for Southampton on 2 April 1912, seen off by thousands lining the Belfast Lough.

On the journey to Southampton Titanic recorded a record speed of 23.25 knots. The journey to Southampton was 570 nautical miles.

I Was Amazed by The Titanic Belfast Museum

Today, the Titanic Belfast visitor attraction, based next to the Harland and Wolff shipyards, tells the story of the Titanic from its conception and construction.

I visited the museum in 2021 and was blown away by the experience. The museum even has a ride in the middle! A ride! I talk more about my excursion to the museum in the video below:

Titanic’s Second Journey – From Southampton to Cherbourg

The Titanic left Southampton on Wednesday 10th April at 12pm.
She arrived into Cherbourg at 8.10pm on Wednesday 10th April.

Around midnight on 4 April 1912, the Titanic arrived in Southampton, where she remained docked for a week. The crew were the first to come aboard.

Most of the crew were from Southampton, of the 685 crew members who died in the tragedy, 549 were from the city. Captaining the ship was the most senior White Star commodore, Captain Edward J. Smith seen below.

Captain Edward J. Smith
Captain Edward J. Smith

A Ship Visit With a Difference

On 5 April, the public had an opportunity to visit the Titanic, she was decorated for the occasion with flags and other pieces.

After the public had visited the ship, passengers were welcomed aboard.

Passengers Embarking the Titanic in SouthamptonTotal Titanic PassengersPercentage Embarked in Southampton
First Class17932455%
Second Class24728487%
Third Class49470970%

At the time there was a coal strike in Britain which meant that coal had to be borrowed from other ships, including the sister ship, Olympia, so that the Titanic could begin her voyage. 

At 9am on the 10th Titanic had her one and only lifeboat drill.

100,000 well-wishers and journalists, watched as the Titanic officially set sail from Southampton on 10 April 1912, at noon. George W.Bowyer was the pilot in charge as the Titanic left Southampton.

In what was later seen as a bad omen for the voyage, the Titanic narrowly missed colliding with the SS City of New York.

The larger ship displaced so much water that the New York’s mooring lines snapped as it rose and fell, swinging it round towards the Titanic. The swift action of a tugboat in towing the New York out of the way avoided tragedy.

This incident delayed the official maiden voyage’s departure by about an hour.

Titanic’s Second Journey – From Cherbourg to Queenstown

The Titanic left Cherbourg on Wednesday 10th April at 8:10pm.
She arrived into Queenstown at 1:55pm on Thursday 11th April.

The Titanic sailed into Cherbourg, the world’s largest artificial harbor and dropped anchor near the Central Fort.

Due to the fact that the water in the port was not deep enough the Titanic could not dock. Tenders transferred the 281 passengers (151 First Class, 28 Second Class, and 102 Third Class) to the luxury steamship, as well as 24 passengers who disembarked.

Passengers Embarking the Titanic in CherbourgTotal Titanic PassengersPercentage Embarked in Southampton
First Class15132445%
Second Class282849%
Third Class10270914%

Among the passengers who embarked in France were some of the most famous and wealthy on the Titanic. These included:

  • Millionaire John Jacob Astor IV and his pregnant wife Madeleine Talmage Astor
  • Billionaire Margaret Brown.
  • Sir Cosmo Edmund Duff Gordon and his wife Lady Lucy Christiana Duff Gordon

Also brought aboard in France were luxury food items, including champagne, wine, cheese, and mineral water.

Today, the Cité de la Mare Museum in Cherbourg has a dedicated Titanic exhibition in memory of the famous ship, where you visit the Art Deco Luggage Hall.

cite de la mare cherbourg france cruise port terminal building
Cité de la Mare Museum in Cherbourg with the Indendence of The Seas in the background

I visited the museum on a cruise with Royal Caribbean a few years ago, to learn more about the museum, check out this post. (The cruise ships dock right besides the museum):

Cherbourg Port: Destination Guide

By 8.10 pm, the Titanic was on her way, she sailed overnight to the south of Ireland and the harbor of Queenstown.

Titanic’s Third Journey – From Queenstown to New York

The Titanic left Queenstown on Thursday 11th April at 1:55pm.

The Titanic arrived in Queenstown (today known as Cobh) to pick up its last passengers before beginning the trans-Atlantic voyage. The ship dropped anchor at Roches Point.

Before the first world war Queenstown was Irelands most important mail and passenger port.

cobh formerly queenstown titanic port
Cobh, formerly Queenstown. (Photo: William Murphy)

Two tenders were responsible for transporting the passengers from Cork Harbor, the PS Ireland, and the PS America.

Passengers Embarking the Titanic in QueenstownTotal Titanic PassengersPercentage Embarked in Southampton
First Class03240%
Second Class72844%
Third Class11370916%

Seven passengers disembarked, including Father Francis Browne, a Jesuit trainee, whose photographs are the last ever taken of the Titanic.

At 1.30 pm, to the sound of a whistle blast and bagpipes, the Titanic lifted her anchor and started her journey.

One final stop was necessary. At the Daunt Light-ship to drop off the pilot who had guided the ship in and out of Cork Harbor.

The Sinking of The Titanic

The ship made good time for the next two days but the Titanic was never able to complete her maiden voyage. 

On the 14 April 1912, after four days at sea, the Titanic struck an iceberg that tore a hole in the ship’s hull below the waterline. The hull began filling with water, and within three hours, the vessel had sunk. Because of a lack of lifeboats and the proper emergency procedures, only 705 people survived the disaster.

To learn more about why the Titanic sunk (there were lots of factors) check out this post:

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

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