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The 'Great Eastern' as a passenger liner
|Maiden voyage of the Great Eastern|
Maiden voyage to New York
Scott Russell's journal
Russell kept a journal during the voyage and here is an extract from it. His comments reveal some of the teething troubles that the new ship and its crew faced.
Thursday, 21 June 1860
Russell went on:
'The engineering results of the voyage are however on the whole satisfactory. The engines have done their work with an expenditure of fuel, which as nearly as it has been ascertained, is not extravagant. There was however much surprise at the neglected conditions of the decks, which appeared as if they had neither been cleaned, scraped, or varnished since it was launched. The planks in many places appeared badly shrunken and suffering for the want of welting down. The same was observed on both sides of the paddle boxes'.
Change of route
The recent opening of the Suez Canal meant that the long sea route to India around the bottom of Africa was now uneconomical. This would not have mattered had the Great Eastern been able to use the canal. Unfortunately, though, the ship was too wide to go through!
The Great Eastern was therefore left with the Atlantic route. But Brunel's ship was too slow to compete with the smaller, faster vessels that dominated the Atlantic.
Although the Great Eastern was very safe, passengers were put off by the rolling of the ship in the Atlantic storms. As a result, very few tickets were sold for the first crossings.