Cabin Class on the "A"-Class Liners
R.M.S. Ascania - R.M.S. Aurania - R.M.S. Alaunia
The decorations of the popular "A" liners are tasteful an attractive [...] the smoking rooms have been designed to give the acme of lounge ease for man in his moments of relaxation.
The later three of Cunard's "A"-class liners represented the latest developments in Cabin Class travel. Building upon the experience of their elder sisters, these ships further enhanced the Cabin Class offering with improved staterooms, finely appointed public rooms, and enhanced facilities for leisure and relaxation aboard.
Cabin Class Winter Garden
The principal public room for Cabin Class passengers was the Winter Garden (later sometimes referred to as the Lounge) located at the forward end of the Promenade Deck. This apartment was accessed from the large foyer of the main staircase and arranged in a U-shape layout around the forward ventilation casing. This arrangement divided the room into a smaller central section in the middle of two larger side sections which stretched forward towards the bow. The ceiling of the central section was raised higher than the rest of the room into a coach roof fitted with a large skylight, creating an sense of open space upon entering the room. This was contrasted by the lower height of the side sections which created a feeling of cosy intimacy for conversation and relaxation through the room.
The Long Gallery ran along the port side of the Promenade Deck, connecting the main foyer with the Drawing Room and Smoking Room further aft. Paneled in English oak of sixteenth century style, the room was perhaps the most distinctive space aboard these liners. The room was flooded with natural light from a series of tall lead windows arranged in sets of three. These windows were decorated with stained glass designs depicting the coats of arms of various Universities. During the evening, the room was illuminated by electric lighting in the style of wrought-iron torch scones. Further enhancing the style of decor, the room was hung with tapestry curtains and large couches upholstered in needlepoint fabric.
This room, with its oak panelling and restful indirect lighting, has all the charm of a corner of some stately English country house.
The Cabin Class Drawing Room was situated amidships on the Promenade Deck and accessed from the starboard side of the Long Gallery. Befitting the conventions of the time, the room was principally designed as a Ladies Room, providing a more secluded location for reading, writing, and quiet conversation. The room was decorated in a late Georgian style with patterned damask wallpaper and bright upholstery. A raised central ceiling supported by classical plasterwork columns provided an additional source of natural light through four oeil-de-boeuf windows. A tall fitted bookcase in three sections housed the ship's library of books and periodicals available for passengers to loan during the voyage. On the starboard wall opposite the entrance, a marble mantelpiece housed an electric fireplace. Separated from the main portion of the room on the starboard side was a niched writing room fitted with five or six individual writing desks. This provided a private area where passengers could complete their correspondence with the assurance of being undisturbed by other activity of the room.
Cabin Class Smoking Room
Adjoining the aft end of the Lounge Gallery, the Smoking Room was the last public room accessible to Cabin Class passengers from the interior of the Promenade Deck. As the room backed onto the Gymnasium on the Sports Deck behind, the room could not be fitted with windows on its aft wall. Despite this constraint, the room had a light and open atmosphere on account of its decorative scheme. The room was completed in a style reminiscent of an old Italian Palazzo with its wall completed in cream and terracotta stonework. The forward wall was fitted with an imposing stonework chimney-piece crowned by reproduction Italian armour.
Cabin Class passengers were accommodated in staterooms located entirely on A-deck with the distinct advantage of occupying the most stable portion of the ship. The staterooms was decorated in a clean and comfortable style with white enamel walls, fitted wooden furniture, upholstered settees, and fitted washbasins with hot and cold running water. Cunard Line also adopted a number of improvements aboard this ships in comparison to the earlier arrangements adopted aboard their elder sisters Andania, Antonia, and Ausonia. Whilst most staterooms were fitted to accommodate two or four passengers, a number of single berth staterooms were also made available aboard the three newer additions to the "A"-class fleet. These ships also offered an increase in private bathroom facilities, with four larger two-berth staterooms being fitted with their own private facilities. These rooms could be combined with their adjoining staterooms to offer a suite comprising a bedroom, bathroom, and either additional stateroom or private sitting room as desired. All staterooms were fitted with an improved system of ventilation at the control of their occupants.
Cabin Class Dining Saloon
The three decks of Cabin Class accommodation were connected by an elegant curved semi-circular staircase which terminated at the Dining Saloon on C-deck. The Dining Saloon was a spacious apartment with an impressive height created by a vast raised ceiling in the center of the room. In comparison to the open gallery adopted aboard their elder sisters, this raised well was fitted with large pained mirrors which reflected light throughout the room and increased its sense of spaciousness. The decorative scheme used in this room was an understated example of eighteenth-century English neoclassicism with plaster panelling, cornice ceilings, and tall classical columns carved from coloured marble. The three new sisters also dispensed with the practice of fixed swivel seating in favour of elegant Georgian armchairs. Seating was arranged around private tables accommodating between three and ten diners. Adding to the brightness of the room, the tables were fitted with tall lamps with soft cream shades.