JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
$650 doesn't sound like much in today's dollars, but in 1912 that 650 would be about equal to the average salary of a factory worker1; so, if you calculated the trip of 1/3 year at the average salary today of, say, $45,000, it feels more expensive. It doesn't translate all that well, really, but it does give a good idea of what that 650 meant in 1912.
Uncle Sam is taking a breather from his work on the Panama Canal, which is clearly under construction in the vignette at bottom left and something that wouldn't open for business for another two years. The Hamburg American Line was definitely associating the grand undertaking in Panama with its around-the-world cruise offering--the Panama engineering feat was certainly considered one of the wonders of the world. The zeppelin flights were extraordinary in themselves, what with making transatlantic flights with 400-800 people (depending on the airship) who received three square meals a day, could rent their own rugs, go to the barber and to the ship's library, and listen to the airship's band.
The bottom line here is that this is a great design, and as advertisements go it seems to be very effective.
(See http://www.gjenvick.com/PassengerLists/Hamburg-AmericanLine/Westbound/1912-11-01-PassengerList-PresidentLincoln.html#axzz43r2FHFKT for various passenger lists, activities, menus, and the like.)
1. See an earlier posst, http://longstreet.typepad.com/thesciencebookstore/2009/09/the-overworked-working-poor-of-1914-women-and-children-and-what-they-didnt-get-paid.html