First Class on S.S. Belgenland
Her great size, her trim, graceful lines, her thrilling speed, the expert quality of her cuisine and service have all contributed to her international reputation. To cross the Atlantic on the Belgenland is to enjoy the acme of transatlantic luxury.
Belgenland was undoubtedly the largest and most finely appointed liner ever operated by the Red Star Line. Her service also represents an interesting point in the development of the 'Cabin Liners'. Built as a modestly large transatlantic liner yet quickly adapted to cater for the growing cruise market, her grand public rooms and well-appointed staterooms accommodated passengers from both key travel markets in the changing days of the late 1920s.
The principal suite of public apartments for First Class passengers was located on the Upper Promenade Deck. The Drawing Room, located the furthest forward of these rooms, was situated directly forward of the Entrance Hall overlooking the bow. Its location undoubtedly made this room the best place for observation anywhere aboard the ship and it was intended to provide an altogether more quiet and secluded atmosphere than the larger Lounge and Smoking Room. This ambience was aided by intimate arrangement of the space, with a series of plaster columns neatly dividing the room into three distinctive sections. In addition to a series of large picture windows at the front of the room, the two sections on either side contained capacious bay windows, providing intimate sitting spaces with sweeping views out over the promenade outside. The Drawing Room was decorated in a late Georgian style with intricately detailed white plasterwork complemented by the floral patterns of the rugs and armchairs. In the centre of the aft wall, a large archway framed a decorative niche fitted with a marble fireplace.
In the great lounge, is found the magnificence and splendour reminiscent of baronial Europe ... the genuine fireplace, with its grill and its glowing embers, lends a subtle charm to the room and calls to mind the England which Scott knew so well.
Red Star Line Brochure; "To Europe on the Belgenland: First class"; circa 1926
A plasterwork frieze adorned with floral mouldings and stained-glass lunette windows surrounded the top of the room. This was neatly complemented by the low relief ceiling fitted with large decorative panels in seventeenth century designs. On either side of the room, two large bay windows separated by internal wooden walls nearly divided the room into more secluded spaces to sit and observe the deck outside. The room was extensively furnished with large settees and armchairs in floral patterned upholstery together with club chairs arranged intimately around small card tables. The floor was covered with thick floral carpets. Directly across from the fireplace, a tall glass-fronted bookcase supplied passengers with an extensive collection of classic works, modern novels, and current periodicals. Cards and other games could also be borrowed by passengers.
The Smoking Room for First Class passengers was the largest of the public rooms located on the Upper Promenade Deck. Arranged in a U-shape around the farthest aft ventilator shaft, the room comprised a large central section dividing into two more intimate aisles moving aft. The most noticeable feature of the Smoking Room was the vast vaulted glass ceiling crowning the central section. Fitted with plain glass panels within lightly decorated edging, this window flooded the room with natural light from the Sun Deck, neatly balancing out the darker tones of the decor. This was further enhanced by large picture windows around the sides of the room, providing views out onto the promenade deck outside. The style of the decoration was late seventeenth century Baroque, comprising tinted cedar panelling adorned with elegantly carved lime-wood detailing of fruits and foliage in the Dutch style. The walls were hung with large paintings by the Flemish artist Cassiers, showing scenes in famous Belgian cities. Tall Ionic pillars separated the various sections of the space. An atmosphere like that of a fashionable gentlemen's club ashore was evident in this handsome room. The furniture consisted of wide wing-back chairs in green and brown leather together with large fitted couches, numerous card tables, and ornate standing ashtrays.
At the rear of the Upper Promenade Deck, First Class passengers had access to a cheerful Verandah Café looking out towards the stern of the liner. The Verandah was connected to the adjoining Smoking Room by two sets of revolving doors, one on the port and starboard side respectively. This room extended the full width of the deckhouse with large arched windows providing stunning views of the deck in addition to plentiful natural light. Designed to appear like a garden terrace, the walls were covered with fitted green trellises to hold climbing plants together with additional planters hanging from the ceiling. The flooring consisted of black and white linoleum tiling and the room was furnished with large cane furniture arranged around spacious tables.
Belgenland staterooms were designed not merely for comfort and rest ... they were tastefully and distinctively decorated to be your private shipboard home during a radiant sea holiday.
The largest room aboard Belgenland was the First Class dining saloon, located on C-deck directly aft of the spacious Reception Room. In the middle of the room was a large open-well extending upwards onto B-deck which was fitted with a musicians' gallery. The apartment was impressive in its size and decoration. In a style continuous with the adjoining Reception Room, the Dining Saloon was decorated in a late-Eighteenth century style with ivory-white walls adorned with decorative pilasters and low-relief plaster mouldings.
The Dining Saloon is a masterpiece of design and appointment ... magnificent in proportion ... dignified in decoration ... and smartly cosmopolitan in atmosphere.
"To Europe on the Belgenland; First Class" brochure; c.1926