Now What?: Sail Prices
4/1/2002
Answers for the beginner, the befuddled and anyone hitting a brick wall.
Q. I would love to know how much it cost for my grandparents with their four children to sail from Bremen to New York in 1896. Any suggestions where could find this information?

A. The cost to travel from Europe to America varied by the class, the departure port and the destination, just as today we have different fares to travel by air. Around the turn of the 20th century, a typical steamship one-way passage was from $10 to $35 for third class (steerage), $40 for second class and $80 for first. But just as airline-ticket costs fluctuate today, prices rose and fell when our ancestors came to America by ship. It might be more costly to go during a particular season than another. If you know the name of the ship, the steamship line and precisely when your grandparents came, you might be able to find more specific costs by contacting maritime museums, such as The National Maritime Museum <www.nmm.ac.uk> or Mystic Seaport Museum <www.mysticseaport.org>. For links to maritime museums on the Web, go to <www.execpc.com/~reva/html3e2.htm>. Although the company doesn't do research, New Steamship Consultants' ocean liner memorabilia Web site <www.oceanliner.com/sf.htm> sells brochures listing steamships' schedules and fares. You can also try contacting the steamship line directly, if it's still in operation. Most published sources about the immigrant experience contain the average fares as mentioned above.

From the April 2002 issue of Family Tree Magazine