The exclusive nature of inaugural cruises calls to mind glamorous champagne christenings, celebrity godmothers and brand-new ship features and amenities. These sailings are a popular favorite among seasoned cruisers who see it as the ultimate cruise vacation.
(There are currently 84 ships scheduled to debut from 2018 to 2021. To see a listing of all the ships that you can expect to see in the near future, please click here. To see a listing of inaugural cruises, please click here.)
Following is a list of seven things to love about an inaugural cruise.
1. Global Celebrations. Depending on the significance of the ship, there may be a very impressive pomp-and-circumstance inaugural ceremony, with esteemed guests from all over the world. Then too, the arrival of a new ship in port may be cause for local celebrations all along the voyage, with festivities in several cities during the course of the itinerary.
2. A Memorable Voyage. The lines frequently offer mementos to passengers of a maiden voyage. When Cunard‘s Queen Mary 2 launched, she offered “Limited Edition” QM2 maiden-voyage commemorative items, including t-shirts, playing cards, cups and saucers, stamps, baseball caps and key chains… and even painted ostrich eggs! These small souvenirs are a tangible way to remember your voyage. Sometimes the lines even go a bit further, giving each cabin a very special present, usually customized, worth $50 or more.
3. Introductory Pricing. To create interest in the ship, some maiden voyages offer rates on an itinerary that will be priced significantly higher in the future. Since public opinion has not yet been formed and the cruise lines are eager to put their best foot forward, the inaugural sailing of a ship can sometimes translate to a steal on cruise fares.
4. The Excitement of Exclusivity. You’ve been written into a page of history as a member of the “elite” group of passengers present for the very first sailing of a new ship. Not to mention, there are some serious bragging rights that go along with being able to say, “I was on the maiden voyage of that beautiful ship”.
5. Beyond Special Amenities. Positive word of mouth is the key to better booking for future sailings, so the line may offer extra special food options, entertainment and activities. Passengers on a maiden voyage can take advantage of perks that may not exist on future sailings.
6. An Immaculate, Sparkling Environment. Just like a new house, or car, there’s a certain appeal to being on a brand-new ship…. where accommodations have no wear and tear, and there’s no sign of the passengers who have come before. Every part of the ship is in untouched condition – the rooms are pristine, the carpets spotless, and every dish, sheet and towel has never been used. Is there such a thing as a new-ship smell? There’s only one way to find out.
7. Customized Services. Because the shipboard routine is still fluid, the ship’s staff tends to be quite flexible with things like menus, seating options and the scheduling of on-board activities. There is an accommodating flow in areas that simply won’t be possible on later cruises as schedules solidify.
There is unquestionably something special about being on board a cruise ship during the inaugural cruise, but these voyages do fill up early. To research upcoming maiden voyages, please visit the Inaugural Cruises section on CruiseCompete.
For a list of ships launching in 2018 and beyond, please click here.