Another Enchanted Cruise Experience, the Inaugural Cruise—-.

For those of us who love to cruise, inaugural cruises rate high on the to-do-experience list. These elite voyages often involve champagne christenings, celebrity godmothers and brand-new ship facilities and amenities. We receive so many questions about these voyages we thought we would add a new section so you will always know about upcoming inaugural cruises.

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What is really different about these voyages?

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”.

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. We suggest you adopt a “half-full” attitude, appreciating rather than decrying that everything is not set in stone. Because the ship’s staff is still finding out what passengers want and need, it is more likely to be flexible in getting it for them. Things like menus, seating arrangements, and the scheduling of on-board activities may be available in ways not possible on later cruises.

Each port is a new stop for a ship on an inaugural cruise so often its arrival becomes a local event. So expect the locals to turn out to see the new ship, including politicians and local celebrities, often with music and other festivities. Not every port will do this, but it’s sure a sight to see when they do!

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. This may mean the cruise line “woos” you with extra special food, entertainment and activities. Passengers on a maiden voyage can take advantage of perks that may not exist on future sailings.

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. These tokens are a great way to remember your voyage. Sometimes the lines even go a bit further, giving each cabin a very special present, usually engraved, worth $50 or more.

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. Every aspect of the ship is still in never-been-used, pristine condition.

And finally, everyone likes to be the first to experience something. It’s human nature. 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”?

There is unquestionably something special about being on board a cruise ship during the inaugural cruise. For a list of new ships