The Monster Ships that Changed How We Travel – IELTS Reading Passage 2

THE MONSTER SHIPS THAT CHANGED HOW WE TRAVEl  

When the world’s then-largest ocean liner embarked on its first transatlantic voyage in September 1907, thousands of spectators gathered at the docks of Liverpool to watch. Cunard’s RMS Lusitania had been outfitted with a new type of engine that differed from that of its rivals – and it would go on to break the speed record for the fastest ocean crossing not once, but twice.

  Between 1850 and 1900, three British passenger lines – Cunard, Inman and White Star – dominated transatlantic travel. Toward the end of the century, as increasing numbers of emigrants sought passage to the US and a growing class of Gilded Age travellers demanded speed and luxury, corporate rivalry intensified. Pressure from other European lines forced the British companies to add amenities like swimming pools and restaurants.

  Not unlike today’s rivalries between, say, aircraft manufacturers like Airbus and Boeing, each raced to make its ocean liners the largest, fastest and most opulent. In the process, they launched the modern age of leisure cruising – and developed innovations and technologies that continue to be used on cruise ships today.

  In the mid-19th Century, there were two main players. Inman’s inaugural steamship, launched in 1850, made it the first major British line to replace traditional side-mounted paddlewheels with a screw propeller – an apparatus with fixed blades turning on a central axis. With the added speed and fuel efficiency this brought, plus a sleek iron hull that was more durable than wood, Inman established itself as a company unafraid to try new technology for faster crossings.

  Inman’s main rival, Cunard, focused on safety instead. The Cunard way was to let competitors introduce new-fangled technology and let them deal with the setbacks, once that technology had proved itself, only then would Cunard consider using it.

  But Cunard risked being left behind both by Inman and by a new rival which burst onto the scene in 1870 – the White Star line’s splashy debut included five huge ocean liners, dubbed floating hotels. Their flagship, RMS Oceanic, launched in 1871 and the contrast with Cunard was stark, for example where Oceanic had bathtubs, Cunard offered a sink.

  In 1888, Inman introduced ships which no longer required auxiliary sails, giving ocean liners a similar look to the one they have today.

  Cunard, meanwhile, ventured into the new world of telecommunications by installing the first Marconi wireless stations, which allowed radio operators to transmit messages at sea, on its sister ships RMS Lucania and RMS Campania. First-class passengers could even book European hotels by wireless before reaching port.
  In 1897, Germany entered the fray with the SS Amerika, wowed its well-heeled guests by introducing the first à la carte restaurant at sea: the Ritz-Carlton, brainchild of Paris hotelier Cesar Ritz and renowned chef Auguste Escoffier. It allowed guests to order meals at their leisure and dine with their friends rather than attend rigidly scheduled seatings – a forerunner of the kind of freestyle dining seen on today’s cruise ships.

  To complicate matters, American banking tycoon JP Morgan was buying up smaller companies to create a US-based shipping-and-railroad monopoly. In 1901, White Star became his biggest acquisition. Suddenly, the battles weren’t only in the boardrooms: building the world’s top ocean liners was now a point of national pride.

  With the help of a £2.6 million government loan (equivalent to more than £261 million today), Britain’s Cunard line launched the massive twins RMS Lusitania and RMS Mauretania. Both had the first steam turbine engines of any superliner.

  White Star fought back with RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic that would feature double hulls and watertight bulkheads. With standard reciprocating engines, they were slower than the Cunarders, but surpassed them in size and elegance, even debuted the first indoor swimming pools at sea.

  History changed course when Titanic hit an iceberg on 14 April 1912 and sank on her first transatlantic voyage. As a result of the tragedy, safety regulations were updated to require lifeboat berths for every passenger and 24-hour radio surveillance (rules which are still in place).

  But there were more challenges to come. World War One broke out in 1914 and European governments requisitioned liners for war service. Despite a post-war liner-building boom, US anti-immigration laws reduced the number of transatlantic emigrants – the liners’ bread and butter – in the 1920s.

  In 1957, more people crossed the Atlantic by ship than ever before, but by the following year, jet passengers outnumbered them. Cunard said flying was a just fad, and that it was not a genuine concern.

  Despite Cunard’s best efforts, by the late 1950s more people were flying than taking ships to their destinations. Air travel and high operating costs doomed most transatlantic liners by the 1970s – only Cunard’s RMS Queen Mary 2 makes regular transatlantic crossings now.

Questions

Questions 13–18

Label as true, false, or not given (T / NG) Do the following statements agree with the information given in passage 2? Write your answers in the boxes for questions 13-18 as:

TRUE               if the statement agrees with the information

FALSE             if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN   if there is no information on this

13.  The competition between modern day airline manufacturers is very much like the early days of ship construction.

14.  Inman was fearful of using the latest available materials alongside progressive construction methods to cut crossing times.

15.  Following the invention of the radio, second class guests could reserve rooms to stay in the cities they were heading to from the ship they were on.

16.  By borrowing a substantial amount of money, a leading British company built a couple of huge identical ships with the very first steam engine propulsion.

17.  Crossing the Atlantic is done by the one remaining cruise ship these days on a scheduled timetable.

18.  A German company introduced fixed and tightly controlled set-seating meal times on their newest ships.

Questions 19–23

Match letters A-C, to the statements numbered below 19-23.

Which company does each of the following statements refer to?

A. Cunarrd; B. Innman; C. White Star

Being acquired by a high-powered financier meant that the proud thoughts of a nation were at stake.19……………… 
Claiming air travel was a short-term temporary fashionable form of travel not to be overly worried about.20………………
Using alternate newer technologies rendered older wind powered systems obsolete giving them the modern-day look.21……………… 
Patiently waiting for their rivals to prove that new technologies and systems worked before implementing them themselves.22……………… 
Producing massive ocean going vessels that gained them the nickname ‘hotels that float’.23……………… 
The Monster Ships that Changed How We Travel

Questions 24–27

Complete the sentences below. Choose NO MORE THAN TWO TO THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.

  • It was a couple of times in the early 1900s that the newest ship of the day broke the 24 ……………..
  • As European firms excelled, it forced the U.K.-based companies to improve their ships and in particular to 25 ……………..
  • Due to a terrible disaster, new rules were put in place after that we can see today are 26 ……………..
  • It was often whole families in the early part of the 20th Century, moving from Europe to America that was known to the industry as their  27 ……………..

Answers

Questions 13–18

13. Answer: True

  • Key words: competition, airline manufacturers, ship construction
  • Paragraph 3 discusses the competition (“rivalry”) between passenger liners in the past:
    • “Not unlike today’s rivalries between, say, aircraft manufacturers like Airbus and Boeing, each (company) raced to make its ocean liners the largest, fastest and most opulent”.
  • The phrase “not unlike” basically means “like”, so of course the rivalry between aircraft manufacturers (or airline manufacturers) today is very much like that between shipping companies of the early days.  The statement is true.
    • competition = rivalry
    • airline = aircraft
    • like ~ not unlike
    • modern = today
  • The answer is TRUE.

14. Answer: False

  • Key words: Inman, fearful, materials, construction methods, crossing times
  • In paragraph 4, the new construction methods of Inman’s first steamship are described, and these progressive construction techniques brought greater speed and fuel efficiency.
  • In addition, Inman also utilized iron instead of wood to make the hull. We can see this as “using the latest available materials”.  According to the author, Inman was “unafraid”, or in other words, not fearful of using these two new technologies to achieve faster transatlantic crossings (or to cut crossing times). Hence, the statement must be false.
    • fearful = afraid
    • cut crossing times ~ faster crossing
  • The answer is FALSE.

15. Answer: Not Given

  • Key words: invention, radio, second class guests, reserve rooms, cities, 
  • We find the key words in paragraph 8:
    • “Cunard, meanwhile, ventured into the new world of telecommunications by installing the first Marconi wireless stations, which allowed radio operators to transmit messages at sea….First-class passengers could even book European hotels by wireless before reaching port”.
  • To book hotels means to reserve rooms, so we know that first-class guests could book hotel rooms using the ship’s radio while they were still on the ship (= before reaching port). However, there is no information about whether second-class guests could also do this or not. So the statement is Not Given.
    • radio = wireless
    • guests = passengers
    • reserve = book
  • The answer is NOT GIVEN.

16. Answer: True

  • Key words: borrowing, British company, identical ships, first steam engine 
  • Paragraph 11 has the information that we need to find: 
    • “With the help of a £2.6 million government loan…the British company Cunard launched the massive twins RMS Lusitania and RMS Mauretania.
  • This loan can be considered “a substantial amount of money” that the company borrowed. The word “massive” is a synonym for “huge”, and the word “twins” means that the two ships were identical. 
  • We also know from the passage that they
    • “… both had  the first steam turbine engines of any superliner”
  • In other words, the ships had the first steam engine propulsion. The answer is therefore true.
    • borrowing ~ loan
    • huge = massive
    • identical ~ twins
    • steam engine propulsion ~ steam turbine engine
  • The answer is TRUE.

17. Answer: True

  • Key words: crossing, Atlantic, one, ship, scheduled, timetable
  • The last paragraph tells us that:
    • “…only Cunard’s RMS Queen Mary 2 makes regular transatlantic crossings now”. 
  • The word “regular” suggests that the transatlantic crossings are arranged/scheduled, and “now” means the same as “these days”. 
  • Hence, we can paraphrase this as: RMS Queen Mary 2 is the one remaining cruise ship that crosses the Atlantic on a scheduled timetable these days.
  • crossing the Atlantic ~ transatlantic crossing
    • these days = now
    • scheduled = regular
  • The answer is TRUE.

18. Answer: False

  • Key words: German, fixed, meal times, newest ships
  • In paragraph 9, we find a reference to the ships of a German company:
    • “In 1897, Germany entered the fray with the SS Amerika….It allowed guests to order meals at their leisure and dine with their friends rather than attend rigidly scheduled seatings”.
  • It can be understood from this piece of information that SS Amerika did not have rigidly scheduled seatings (or tightly controlled seatings). In contrast, guests could have meals “at their leisure” which means they could have meals whenever they wanted. This information completely contradicts the statement, so the answer must be false.
    • tightly controlled = rigidly scheduled
  • The answer is FALSE.

Questions 19–23

19. Answer: C

  • Key words: acquired, financier, proud thoughts, nation 
  • We find the information in paragraph 10:
    • “…American banking tycoon J P Morgan was buying up smaller companies…..In 1901, White Star became his biggest acquisition.  Suddenly….building the world’s top ocean liners was now a point of national pride”.
  • White Star was bought by JP Morgan, a US banking tycoon. The word “tycoon” refers to a wealthy, powerful person in business or industry, so it can be paraphrased as “a financier” (a person concerned with the management of large amounts of money). 
  •  The fact that a British company had been bought by a US tycoon was now “a point of national pride”, or the proud thoughts of a nation. Thus, the company being referred to in this question is White Star.
    • being acquired ~ acquisition
    • financier = tycoon
    • proud thoughts of a nation ~ national pride
  • The answer is C.

20. Answer: A

  • Key words: air travel, short-term, fashionable, not worried 
  • In paragraph 15, it is stated that Cunard said: 
    • “….flying was a just fad, and that it was not a genuine concern”. 
  • The term “fad” refers to an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived. 
  • This means that Cunard considered flying (or “air travel”) as something which some people were very enthusiastic about, would not last long. In other words, Cunard considered air travel as fashionable but temporary. The company did not see it as a concern, so they did not worry about it. Hence, the statement clearly refers to Cunard.
    • air travel = flying
    • short-term, temporary fashionable ~ fad
    • worried about ~ concern
  • The answer is A.

21. Answer: B

  • Key words: technologies, wind powered systems, obsolete
  • We already know – from paragraph 4 – that Inman “…was unafraid to try new technology for faster crossings”.
  • In paragraph 7, it is said that:
    • “In 1888, Inman introduced ships which no longer required auxiliary sails”. 
  • From these statements, we know that Inman had used some new technologies so that their ships no longer required auxiliary sails. In other words, auxiliary sails (which can also be called “older wind powered systems” in this context) were left obsolete after their replacement by the newer technologies, also mentioned in paragraph 4.
  • In addition, according to paragraph 7, this new technology gave Inman ocean liners “a similar look to the one they have today”.  In other words, their ocean liners now had “a modern-day look”. Hence, Inmanis the correct answer.
    • wind powered systems ~ sails
    • modern-day = today
  • The answer is B.

22. Answer: A

  • Key words: rivals, new technologies and systems, before implementing 
  • In paragraph 5, we find the information that we need:
    • “The Cunard way was to let competitors introduce new-fangled technology and let them deal with the setbacks, once that technology had proved itself, only then would Cunard consider using it.” 
  • This means that Cunard would wait for their competitors (or rivals) to test new technology first. ‘New-fangled’ simply means ‘innovative’. Only after it had been proved to work, Cunard would use or implement the technology. Therefore, the answer is Cunard.
    • rivals = competitors
    • implement = use
  • The answer is A.

23. Answer: C

  • Key words: massive, ocean going, hotels, float
  • We can find the information on ‘hotels that float’ or ‘floating hotels’ in the sixth paragraph:
    • “…the White Star line’s flashy debut included five huge ocean liners, dubbed floating hotels”.
  • To dub means to give an unofficial name or nickname to (someone or something). So the answer is White Star.
    • massive = huge
    • ocean going vessels = ocean liners
  • The answer is C.

Questions 24–27

24. Answer: speed record

  • Key words: early 1900s, newest ship, broke
  • In the first paragraph, it is mentioned that in 1907, the new RMS Lusitania:
    • “…would go on to break the speed record for the fastest ocean crossing not once, but twice”. 
  • Here, “twice” can be paraphrased as “a couple of times”. 1907 is the early 1900s. Hence, we should fill the blank with “speed record”.
    • a couple of times ~ twice
  • The answer is speed record.

25. Answer: add amenities

  • The second paragraph contains information about European firms: 
    • “Pressure from other European lines forced the British companies to add amenities like swimming pools and restaurants”.
  • From this, we understand that “other European lines” were competing with British ones. British companies were under pressure to improve their ships too, by adding amenities. In other words, European firms excelled, forcing British companies to improve their ships and in particular to “add amenities”.
    • UK-based ~ British
  •   The answer is add amenities.

26. Answer: still in place

  • Key words: disaster, new rules, today 
  • In paragraph 13, we find a reference to a terrible disaster, when the Titanic sank:
  • “As a result of the tragedy, safety regulations were updated to require lifeboat berths for every passenger and 24-hour radio surveillance (rules which are still in place).”
  • The terrible disaster refers to the Titanic accident. “As a result of the tragedy, safety regulations were updated”. These regulations, or rules, are said to be “still in place”, which means they are still valid today. Hence, the blank should be filled with “still in place”
  • due to ~ as a result of
  • disaster = tragedy
  • rules ~ regulations
  • The answer is still in place.

27. Answer: bread and butter

  • Key words: families, early, 20th century, Europe to America, 
  • Paragraph 14 contains information relating to “moving” in the early 20th century: “…US anti-immigration laws reduced the number of transatlantic emigrants – the liners’ bread and butter – in the 1920s”.   
    • “Transatlantic emigrants” refers to people – including whole families – who moved from Europe to America.  When the American government passed laws to reduce the number of immigrants, this meant that fewer people were travelling across the Atlantic on the ocean liners.  These people were the ‘bread and butter’ of the shipping companies – in other words the shipping companies needed these emigrants in order to make profits.  The emigrants were the basic source of income for the shipping companies.
  • These emigrants were thus considered to be the liners’ “bread and butter”. 
    • early 20th century ~ 1920s
  •  The answer is bread and butter.

IELTS Reading British council

More IELTS Reading Passage 2

One Response

  1. Rajveer 15/08/2020

Leave a Reply