RISMEDIA, February 4, 2011—An inaugural cruise: the phrase conjures visions of champagne christenings, celebrity godmothers and brand-new ship facilities and amenities. Is it all it’s cracked up to be?
The concept of a maiden voyage can be confusing, as the cruise ship will have an inaugural season, during which there will be several maiden voyages of different itineraries—(Mediterranean Inaugural, Caribbean Inaugural, Alaska Inaugural). Therefore, it can be hard to know when the real inaugural cruise actually occurs. Perhaps the best description of a true maiden voyage is the first revenue-producing voyage of a new ship—that is, the first cruise for which tickets are sold to the general public.
Consumers are likely not the first passengers to experience the ship; the cruise companies usually host one or more trips for the travel media and select members of the travel industry prior to its launch. This allows the line to generate advance publicity for the ship and to do a final check on all processes.
As for the champagne and celebrities, some of these cruises do include a lot of fanfare, while on others it’s quite minimal. These days, most ships go through a “naming ceremony” in a specific port and that is where much of the hoopla occurs.
Regardless of the pomp and circumstance, AllThingsCruise offers seven fabulous reasons that an inaugural cruise is a great bet:
1. The cruise lines realistically expect there may be some problems to be worked out and will oftentimes compensate for what they expect to be minor inconveniences with lower cruise fares. Some inaugural cruises offer “introductory pricing.”
2. Shipboard routines are still being established. Some will complain about this, saying that service and continuity are not what they will be in later voyages. AllThingsCruise suggests you adopt a “half-full” attitude, appreciating rather than decrying that not everything is set in stone. Things like menus, seating arrangements, and the scheduling of on-board activities may be available in ways not possible on later cruises.
3. Each port is a new stop for a ship on an inaugural cruise, so often its arrival becomes a local event. Consider the recent U.S. arrival of Royal Caribbean’s mega-ship, the Oasis of the Seas. Hundreds of people turned up to watch the ship arrive to its home port of Port Everglades, Florida.
4. The cruise lines are wise to the fact that the more positive word-of-mouth that’s generated from this first cruise, the better the bookings will be on future voyages. Passengers on a maiden voyage can take advantage of perks that may not exist on future sailings.
5. There are often special inaugural events and keepsake items commemorating the voyage. When Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 launched, she offered “Limited Edition” QM2 maiden-voyage commemorative items like playing cards, cups and saucers, T-shirts, stamps, painted ostrich eggs, baseball caps and key chains. Sometimes the lines even go a bit further, giving each cabin a very special present, usually engraved, worth $50 or more.
6. Who among us doesn’t like the feeling of enjoying something that’s absolutely brand new, and how much bigger and better is that feeling on a 150,000-ton ship? The vessel has seen no wear and tear; it’s still in never-been-used, pristine condition.
7. Everyone likes to be the first to experience something. Inaugural passengers can’t help but feel a bit elite and a part of the ship’s history. How great is it to be able to say, “Oh, yes, I was on the maiden voyage?”
For more information, visit www.AllThingsCruise.com.