There’s just something special about being the maiden voyage of a brand new cruise ship. From being the first one to sleep in your cabin to special parties that some cruise lines throw, there’s anyways a unique excitement that you’ll find on these cruises that you won’t find on regular sailings.
Over the past month, I’ve had the opportunity to sail on the inaugural cruises on several different new cruise ships. I’ve actually been able to sail on quite a few over the past few years. If you are looking to cruise on a maiden voyage on a new ship in the future, here are some things that you should know.
Service May Be Slower at First – If there’s one thing I’ve noticed more than anything else about a ship’s first sailing, service can be a bit slower than usual. It takes a few weeks to get all the kinks out and for the crew, who are working together for the first time, to find their rhythm and work efficiently as a group. This is especially true in the main dining room.
On my most recent cruise, there was considerable improvement from the first couple days of the cruise to the end of the sailing. Simple things like drink service times were much faster at the end of the cruise compared to the beginning.
Special Deck Parties/Events – One great thing about being on the first cruise on a new ship are the special parties and events that a cruise line may throw. While every cruise line does things differently, one sailing I was on had a sailaway party on the pool deck with free drinks for everyone.
Also, it’s common for the fireboats to come along side the ship and spray water as you leave port for the first time and as you enter ports of call for the first time.
When I was on the first sailing on the world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, thousands lined the port entrance in San Juan as we left that evening. They were cheering, blowing airhorns, and shining the flashlights on their phone. It was a super cool sendoff from one of my favorite ports that only happened on the maiden voyage.
Shows May Not Be 100% Ready – This one was true for my recent sailings on two new cruise ships. Due to supply chain issues, not all costumes and props had arrived. After one show, they told us that they were still waiting on 95% of their props.
Also, a few of the shows they told us that they weren’t quite ready yet. While they did give us a short preview of one of them, it wasn’t the same as the full experience that many cruisers love. The cruise lines said that the full shows would be ready in about three weeks time.
Commemorative Gifts – Cruise lines will many times leave small gifts in your stateroom on maiden cruises. From hats to sextants that doubled as a bottle opener, it’s always a nice surprise finding gifts on your bed when you come back from dinner.
A few times, cruise lines have given me a certificate to commemorate sailing on the cruise ship’s inaugural voyage.
If you are looking for the best possible cruise experience and you want to sail on a brand new cruise ship, you may want to wait and sail on the 3rd or 4th sailing. If you don’t mind a few hiccups and want to be the first on a new ship, then go ahead and book the maiden cruise.