The company, founded in the mid-1800s under the name Hamburg Amerikanische Packetfahrt Actien Gesellschaft (HAPAG), was one of two main transatlantic companies operating routes between German ports and North America was the Hamburg America. At the turn of the 19th century Germany surprised the world by launching a series of great four-funneled passenger liners that would later be nicknamed greyhounds. Only 14 four-funnel liners were ever built; among them was the Titanic.
The SS Deutschland, which is translated Germany (SS stands for steamship), was commissioned in the summer of 1900, sailed on her maiden voyage to America on July 4th. She captured the coveted Blue Riband for the fasted Trans-Atlantic crossing on that maiden voyage and held the honor for the next six years.
The Blue Riband, a name borrowed from horse racing, was a status symbol for shipping companies because it gave a lot of public attention to those who had the fastest ship. The ship holding this award had a blue pennant in its topmast until a newer and faster ship took over the great blue pennant.
The SS Deutschland was 686 feet long and her highest speed was 23.36 knots. She had 112 furnaces and 16 boilers, consuming around 572 tons of coal per day. At full capacity, she could carry 1,717 passengers, which made up 467 first-cabin, 200 second-cabin, 300 steerage, and 500 crew.
To feed this many people for even the minimal number of days of the voyage, it required the equivalent of fourteen steers, ten calves, twenty-nine sheep, twenty-six lambs, and nine hogs, along with three tons of poultry and game. There was also 1,700 pounds of fish, 400 pounds of tongues, sweetbreads, etc., 1,700 dozen eggs and 14 barrels of oysters and clams. There were 1,000 bricks of ice cream, 1,300 pounds of table butter, 175 barrels of potatoes, 75 barrels of assorted vegetables, 20 crates of tomatoes and table celery, over 4 tons of assorted fresh fruits, and the list goes on. The ship also carried 400 tons of drinking water, 12,000 quarts of wine and liquors, 15,000 quarts of beer in kegs, besides 3,600 bottles of beer, and 40 tons of ice. In tempestuous weather, the dining tables were often deserted.
The first-class cafe proved to be a popular gathering spot. It had a squared glass dome in the high ceiling. The ship’s grillroom also proved to be a success. The unusually large public rooms also included a Dining Saloon, Social Hall, Writing Room, Ladies Parlour, and Smoking Room.
First-cabin passenger rooms were lavishly equipped. The luxurious suites had private baths and large staterooms. Second-cabin had large rooms and access to all the same public rooms as first-cabin except for the grill room.
Professor Angelo Colosi and his daughter Lucia were among the passengers on this passenger ship. Their voyage took place between February 22 and March 3 of 1907. They traveled second-cabin and would have enjoyed all the luxuries the ship had to offer, but their journey to America would take a bit longer than the normal six to seven days of years past.
In September 1900, the Deutschland had crossed the Atlantic in 5 days and 7 hours. She had been designed for speed, but at the compromise of operational performance. She was plagued by noise and vibration. The Hamburg-America Line, who had placed passenger comfort above all else, could not have been more displeased. As a result, speed was slowed and eventually the SS Deutschland was converted to a white-hulled cruise ship and renamed Viktoria Luise.