Entries on passenger manifests were lined out when the passengers did not sail, were changed to a different class of travel, or did not embark or disembark at the port stated on the manifest header.
See Marian L. Smith's article A Guide to Interpreting Passenger List Annotations at JewishGen.org. The information you want is on the page Markings on the Manifest's Left Margin, under the section "Not Shipped," N.O.B., or "Did Not Sail":
Often passengers booked to sail on a given ship did not depart.
Perhaps they missed the ship, or changed their travel plans, or became
ill and health officials prevented them from boarding the ship.
Whatever the case, in some instances the change or decision occurred
so late there was no time to amend the passenger list. Their names and
passenger information remain on lists for ships upon which they never
To indicate the record is meaningless, steamship company employees
would mark the record in one of several ways. The most common was to
"line out" the entire record with dark grease pencil or ink. Some of
the lines are straight across and can be difficult to differentiate
from scratches on the microfilm. Others are deliberately "wavy."
IMPORTANT NOTE: the article cited above was based on New York manifests. Other ports may show different manifest markings.
We can still glean useful information from these manifests, even if the passengers didn't sail. Imagine if the manifest for the Carpathia was unreadable -- you would have been able to retrieve much of the same information from the Berlin's passenger manifest.
Update: In March 2017, Marian L. Smith presented a live webinar at USCIS demonstrating how we can fail to find someone in the passenger lists because of common misconceptions. One of the common misconceptions is that the passengers were involved in the creation of the lists. Smith showed a copy of the forms that were given to passenger at the Cunard Line office with the questions that needed to be answered for the passenger lists. These forms were used in the steamship company offices to create the passenger lists -- and most of the pages in a passenger list would have been created before the ship left the departure port. (The exceptions would be any notations about births and deaths on board, which couldn't have been added until after the events had happened, and the pages for the passengers who had to appear before a Board of Special Inquiry.)
All the tickets were numbered. If passengers had to show their tickets as part of the boarding process, as we do when flying today, then the steamship company would know which passengers did not board.
Researchers using these lists should keep in mind that:
- The information on the big sheets was copied from intake forms
- The person giving the information would not have seen the big sheets and would not be available to give more information when the big sheets were compiled
- The person sailing may not have been the person buying the ticket
Any time information is copied, errors can creep in.
Update 2: For New York arrivals, you can do a cross-check by browsing or searching a collection on FamilySearch. New York Book Indexes to Passenger Lists, 1906-1942. A Wiki article on how to use the records is here: New York, Book Indexes to Passenger Lists.
The collection "New York, Book Indexes to Passenger Lists, 1906-1942"
consists of images of books of indexes to passenger manifests for the
port of New York. The indexes are grouped by shipping line and
arranged chronologically by date of arrival. This collection
corresponds to NARA Publication T612: Book Indexes to New York
Passenger Lists, 1906-1942 and is part of Record Group 85, Records
of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. This collection partly
indexes NARA Publication T715, "Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels
Arriving at New York, New York, 1897-1957."
These indexes were created by the steamship companies and were turned over to the Immigration Service along with the passenger lists. The one I have used is a tabbed index book. The regulations said that the printed manifests for the cabin class passengers should be tipped into the front. If your passenger's entry was lined out because they appeared on the manifest twice, you may be able to get a pointer to their final entry by looking at these index books.
Whatever the cause of the line-out may have been, examine all the entries carefully to see what information the ticket buyer gave the steamship company, and correlate that information with other records.
- Passenger Manifest Annotations, posted by NARA archivist Elizabeth Burnes in Immigration and Naturalization Records on Nov 8, 2021, on NARA's History Hub