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Cruising - Going on a Maiden Voyage
For those of us who enjoy cruising, the prospect of being on an inaugural cruise or maiden voyage is very exciting. To cruise on a brand new ship, to be the first person to sleep between the sheets, drink from the glasses, eat off the china, or sit in the theatre for the first time is an amazing feeling.
Of course, the naming ceremony, often performed by a ‘godmother’ is completed before the inaugural cruise. However, it can be a bit confusing, as several cruises may be advertised as being ‘inaugural. ’ In fact, the only truly ‘maiden’ voyage is the first voyage of a new ship which produces revenue.
It is common, for example, for agents to be invited on cruise ships for a short, often overnight, stay to experience all that the new ship has to offer. When my daughter worked for P and O she and her colleagues were always invited on board a new ship, and spent a couple of days experiencing all the ship had to offer whilst she undertook her first sea trials with passengers. In this way they can ‘iron out’ any problems whilst not having fee paying guests on board, and it is a great way to spread the word about a new ship. However, technically, others have experienced the new ship already.
In fact our first cruise was on Royal Caribbean’s’ Enchantment of the Seas, ’ in her inaugural season – she was only a few weeks old when we boarded her, and it was fantastic to see how glittering and sparkling new she was. Every inch of her was pristine, and the staff was exceptionally helpful and friendly.
There may be unique events associated with a maiden voyage, as often the departure of a new ship will attract crowds to wave it goodbye and wish it well on its first journey. It is very exciting to leave port with perhaps music or other festivities, and the ship may be greeted in a special way at each of the ports it visits. There is normally a plaque given to a new ship by each of the ports she visits for the first time, and these may be displayed on the ship. Because the cruise line wants repeat business, they may offer extra special menus and entertainment. Passengers may even be given special gifts to take home – we received a beautiful photo album on our cruise, and on another ship we were given a stunning glass photo frame.
However, there can be downsides to an inaugural cruise, especially if it really is the first cruise. Some ships develop teething troubles – often with engines – which may either cut the cruise short or result in a change in the itinerary, for example. In the worst case scenario the cruise could be cancelled, if trials result in the discovery of insurmountable problems which need time to put right. However, cruise lines are normally very generous in their handling of the situation – offering free cruises and money back for the inconvenience.
It may also be that the staff are new and may not be used to either the ship or routines.
So, if you want to be the first one to sail on a ship then an inaugural cruise may be just the ticket. However, it is always better to be flexible and to accept that things may go wrong, or be not quite as organized as usual. In that way you will be sure to enjoy every minute of this experience.
After all, it is quite a unique experience, and it is exciting to feel part of a new ship’s history.
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