So this week Celebrity Cruises announced that they were adding a pre-inaugural cruise for the launch of the Celebrity Apex in April 2020.
Originally, the ship was due to have her inaugural cruise on the 05th April 2020 for 8 nights. Now, due to the ship being ready earlier than expected Celebrity has decided to add a 4-night mini-cruise on the 01st April 2020 before the inaugural sailing on the 05th April. Make a bit of money, test the ship before the real event and although there will be paying guests onboard it will also be an opportunity for agents and press to experience the ship too after launch if they wish, rather than just have a night onboard.
This has caused a bit of upset to guests that had booked expecting to be the first to sail on this new vessel, but in reality, regardless of the mini cruise, they still wouldn’t be the first on the ship to sleep or sail.
As with any new ship launch, the ship will do a few tester cruises with staff and then when the ship launches and is christened they will have a couple of nights with press and agents onboard enjoying the ship and facilities. The ship will also set sail from the port and in most cases will be a cruise to nowhere (which means it sails at night in the sea and docks back the next day).
In cases like this when the cruise line expects to have the ship ready earlier than scheduled, they may add these little mini cruises on before the main sailing. But again it is not classed as the inaugural cruise. It is an opportunity for the cruise line to iron out last-minute potential issues and to make sure everyone and everything is working to standard.
A few years ago, Harmony of the Seas added 2 x pre mini cruises before the main inaugural sailing and in fairness, they probably lost money on those 2 x sailings than earnt as there were so many issues and they had to refund at least 50% of the cruise fare back to clients. Building work was still going on, with the last fixtures and fittings, also the shows were not ready as they had expected, the staff was still being trained.. the list was endless.
However, after these 2 x mini cruises guest that sailed on the official inaugural cruise had a fabulous time. Everything was finished and completed, staff trained to expectations and entertainment up and running ready for the main event. Plus the guests still got all their little extras for being on the inaugural sailing.
When I sailed on MSC Bellissima on the inaugural sailing back in March, I am pleased to say there were no teething issues at all and the cruise (apart from the weather in the first few days) went smoothly.
So if you book an inaugural sailing and then they add a pre-cruise before, don’t panic, let the mini-cruise be the tester and the inaugural cruise be the main event still and it means that once you get onboard everything will be perfect as expected.