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Smooth Sailing or Rough Seas? The Potential Perils of a Cruise Ship’s Maiden Voyage

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The attractions of a maiden voyage on a brand-new cruise ship are obvious. The promise of cutting-edge amenities, exclusive celebrations, and, well just simply being first, can be hard to resist.

But with the high-profile cancellation of several maiden voyages recently, is booking the first sailing of a cruise ship just too big of a risk to take?

The first sailing of Disney’s first ship in over a decade was delayed from June 9 to July 14, with DCL saying that this was due to the effect of omicron “at a critical point in the production process.”

I had never really thought too much about this until I was impacted by the delay in the maiden voyage of Disney Wish in 2022.

disney wish maiden voyage

A total of 12 sailings were canceled, and whilst Disney offered a full refund or a 50 percent discount on a future cruise, the delay affected a lot of people.

Disney Treasure is due to set sail on her maiden voyage on 21st December 2024. There are no indications right now that this will follow her sister ship and have her first sailings delayed.

Related: Disney Treasure – What We Know So Far

But Disney isn’t the only cruise line to have had to decide to delay a maiden voyage. There seem to have been several announcements recently.

Princess Cruise Line recently had to postpone the maiden voyage of the new much anticipated Sun Princess. The announcement was made on January 25th, 2024 that the ship’s inaugural 10-day voyage, which had been scheduled to depart from Barcelona on February 8th was cancelled.

On January 25th Princess said that it and the shipbuilders Fincantieri had agreed to delay delivery of the vessel. This led to the cancellation of the ship’s inaugural 10-day voyage, which had been scheduled to depart from Barcelona on February 8th.

What was particularly notable about this was that the passengers affected by the cancellation were not given a lot of notice – and some had already traveled to the port to join the cruise.

Not only that, but after the original announcement was made it wasn’t immediately clear when the ship would sail. Passengers who were supposed to sail on the next cruise were left wondering. Princess did subsequently cancel the next cruise and the ship didn’t set sail until 28th February.

photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

Guests did receive a full refund of the cruise fare along with any additional onboard services that were pre-purchased, as well as a 50% future cruise credit that can be used on a future Princess voyage.

The very late announcement no doubt impacted a lot of guests.

It seems that this is not the last of the delays. Following the successful launch of the mega-ship Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean has changed the date of the debut of her sister ship Star of the Seas.

The new RCL ship was originally due to sail on August 17 and August 24, 2025, but the maiden voyage has now been pushed to August 31, 2025.

At least the guests have 18 months to rearrange their plans. They can move to the delayed maiden voyage or can rebook on another RCL ship.

Oceania Cruises is also looking ahead to 2025 and has announced that the new ship Allura will be delayed and the first six sailings of the ship’s maiden season canceled in the summer of 2025. This ship is being built with Fincantieri, the same shipyard that constructed Sun Princess.

Cancellations are not the only potential problems that you can encounter if you book a maiden voyage.

Incomplete Features: There’s a risk that not all features, venues, or entertainment options will be fully operational as the crew may still be working out the kinks during the first cruises.

This can be seen by what passengers reported from Sun Princess on its first cruise. Two of the dining venues, Spellbound and Love by Britto are not open. Even more disappointing is that the Princess Arena, the new theater on board, is not yet open.

Staff Inexperience: Crew members, while trained, might still be getting accustomed to the ship and its procedures, which can affect the level of service and overall guest experience.

I have certainly heard this being reported on several maiden voyages.

Unforeseen Technical Issues: New ships may have undiscovered technical problems that only become apparent once they are operational, potentially leading to disruptions in services or amenities.

Some things just don’t become apparent until the ship sails with passengers on board.

But for many people, the excitement of booking a maiden voyage will outweigh the possible pitfalls. Being the first to lounge by the pool, dine at the new restaurant, or experience the excitement of the maiden voyage experience is just too good to miss.

Have you ever sailed on a maiden voyage? Would you book one?