Atlantic Navigator

Welcome aboard Atlantic Liners.

During the late nineteenth century, the Atlantic liners underwent a tremendous transformation. Previously only an unpleasant, uncomfortable and slow means of crossing a frequently vicious ocean, they suddenly became symbols of luxury, power, and strength. Each one, in turn, became a legend. Some attained this mythic status for their distinct record of service during both peace and war; others are remembered for their catastrophic and ignominious fates. Their stories – their histories – are insightful, fascinating, and inextricably intertwined with the history of the world throughout the first half of the twentieth century.

This splendid photograph shows the Lusitania steaming at high speed off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland, ca. 1910. (J. Kent Layton Collection)

This splendid photograph shows the Lusitania steaming at high speed off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland, ca. 1910. (J. Kent Layton Collection)

The second half of the twentieth century was a time of uncertainty and ignominy for the great liners. Although the decade of the 1950s was a resurgent time for the Atlantic liners, the post-World War II frenzy did not last. During the 1960s and 1970s, the liners faced a startling decline as the age of jet travel took hold. Ships like the SS United States, the SS France, and the SS Queen Elizabeth 2 were suddenly the last of their kind, and it was felt that the day of the great liner had ended.

In truth, the great ships did not die off completely, but instead evolved into a new form. The idea of ‘cruising’ instead of ‘crossing’, in other words using the ship as a vacation in and of itself rather than merely a method of transportation in getting from Point A to Point B, is far from new. In fact, some of the great ocean liners, such as Cunard’s Mauretania, pioneered this concept, and often mixed ‘crossing’ with ‘cruising’ in order to maintain a healthy profit margin during lean times.

This original snapshot was taken on July 16, 1932, as the Mauretania prepared to depart on one of her cruises to the Caribbean. (J. Kent Layton Collection)

This original snapshot was taken on July 16, 1932, as the Mauretania prepared to depart on one of her cruises to the Caribbean. (J. Kent Layton Collection)

With the popularity of the cruise industry today, there are still incredible ships being built, such as Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, or Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class monsters. Even the smallest of modern mainstream cruise ships are larger than most of the Atlantic liners of old, and they offer greater amenities and comforts for their passengers. For the most part, cruise ships may not be true Atlantic liners, or ships that sail primarily as a means of transportation across the Atlantic Ocean, and many decry them as ‘utter rubbish’ that can’t hold a candle to the liners of old. Yet they are astonishing technological feats in themselves, and they carry on at least some sense of what it was like to take passage on one of the great Atlantic liners of old.

This web site has been designed as an interactive companion to the books that I have authored. They focus primarily on the Atlantic liners of the early twentieth century, which include the following volumes:

Lusitania: An Illustrated Biography
(2015 Centennial Edition)
by J. Kent Layton
from Amberley Books
On A Sea of Glass: The Life & Loss of the RMS Titanic
by Tad Fitch, J. Kent Layton, and Bill Wormstedt
from Amberley Books
The Edwardian Superliners: A Trio of Trios
by J. Kent Layton
from Amberley Books
Transatlantic Liners
by J. Kent Layton
from Shire Library
The Unseen Mauretania (1907): The Ship in Rare Illustrations
by J. Kent Layton
from The History Press
The Unseen Aquitania: The Ship in Rare Illustrations
by J. Kent Layton & Tad Fitch
from The History Press
The Unseen Aquitania
Conspiracies at Sea: Titanic and Lusitania
by J. Kent Layton
from Amberley Books
Conspiracies at Sea - Titanic and Lusitania

And, in case you are wondering: yes, there are more volumes in the works.

I was also privileged to be one of the co-authors on a recent paper titled,Titanic: Fire & Ice (Or What You Will)”. The purpose of the article is to do a ‘reality-check’ on recent allegations made in the program Titanic: The New Evidence, spread widely throughout the media, to the effect that the entire disaster was caused by a coal bunker fire, slipshod building materials and cut-corners, etc., etc. This article has been made available in digital format for ease of access to anyone around the world at the link below:


“Titanic: Fire & Ice (Or What You Will)”

The site contains material not in the print volumes, and vice versa. It is meant to supplement the volumes and help people to gain further information about them; it is also meant to serve as an informational aid for enthusiasts and researchers. This is the “home port” for the beginning of your journey into some of the most memorable ships in history. Here you can find all of the latest updates and research on the vessels, as well as technical specifications and additional information. There are also photographs and digital illustrations of the liners that could not be included in the finished volumes.

Through this site you will also find information on how to purchase the books that I have written, as well as links to purchase other maritime items, such as my popular annual calendars, which I make available.

Ten Years & Getting Stronger!

This site was formally launched on March 28, 2004. In the intervening ten years, “Atlantic Liners” has accumulated over 2.3 million hits, and traffic to this site remains steady. On any given day, there are between 800 and 1,500 page loads by an average of 200-300 “passengers.”

Stay Updated.

In the last couple of years, “Atlantic Liners” has also expanded into social media. The links for the official Facebook page, and the pages for some of my individual books are found below. For those of you who enjoy using social media, follow the links below, “Like” the page, and wait for news and updates to appear in your News feed as they are posted:

Below you will find a live link to some of the latest posts from the official Atlantic Liners Page on Facebook. “Like” and “Share” away!

Atlantic Liners

Atlantic Liners, created by maritime researcher and historian J. Kent Layton, is a burgeoning web site filled with information about famous Atlantic liners of the twentieth century. Through photos and illustrations, and text, this site spreads the most accurate information available on these ships.
Atlantic Liners
Atlantic LinersTuesday, December 12th, 2017 at 5:27pm
A micro photo shoot I did. An 1897 Omega pocket watch, a 1911 copy of The Scientific American Handbook of Travel, a 1905 copy of Outward Bound, both books filled with notes specifically for seagoing passengers, a repkica copy of a 1910 notes for passengers booklet from the White Star Line, and a replica copy of a White Star Line blanket.
Atlantic Liners
Atlantic Liners shared The Unseen Aquitania: The Ship in Rare Illustrations's post.Tuesday, December 12th, 2017 at 3:10pm
Any leads on this shot...?
Atlantic Liners
Atlantic Liners shared The Unseen Mauretania: The Ship In Rare Illustrations - 2015's post.Friday, December 8th, 2017 at 11:07pm
The RMS Mauretania at the Liverpool Landing Stage. (J. Kent Layton Collection)
Atlantic Liners
Atlantic LinersThursday, November 30th, 2017 at 2:02pm
Many of those who today are fascinated with all things Titanic had their interest first sparked by the 1997 James Cameron film. The score behind the film, one of the finest scores ever made by legendary -- and since deceased -- composer James Horner, has never been fully released. I discovered this new special-edition release yesterday, which promises to bring back some of the magic we all felt in the closing weeks of 1997:
Atlantic Liners
Atlantic LinersWednesday, November 29th, 2017 at 10:01pm
All this fuss over whether the fictional character Jack "could have fit on the door" with Rose is hysterical to read, as it shows up in articles like this one, or is debated on the web ad nauseum. And Cameron's answer on why Jack died is also funny.

But to me, as a Titanic/maritime historian, the bigger picture is the fact that the item Rose was floating on in the film was not in any way, shape or form a door.

In fact, this "hero piece", as it was called by some in film circles, was patterned after/based on a large piece of intricate wooden paneling from Titanic's First Class Lounge that was recovered from the sea and is now in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, NS.

The original piece of paneling almost certainly was torn loose from the innards of the ship during the breakup, the main (forward) vertical split of which passed directly through the aft end of the First Class Lounge.

"Door", indeed! 😀
Atlantic Liners
Atlantic LinersThursday, November 23rd, 2017 at 6:31pm
These days, every good liner book is filled with illustrations -- and the best ones employ as many rare images as they can. However, sometimes photographs are not in very good condition, and do not truly portray the scene as they would have when new. Everything from being photographed crooked, to dust and specks, to extreme fading and reduced contrast has to be considered before reproducing an image in one of my books.

Fortunately, I have the ability to restore photographs for images that are candidates to appear in my books. As an example, enjoy this series of four views showing an original, and badly faded, rare photograph of the Mauretania in my collection, and see how I was able to restore it so that when it appeared in print, it truly conveyed the original scene.