Maiden voyages and new ships

I've read many disappointing reviews on some of the newer ships. Most seem to be within a month or two of launching. Many critics advise delaying cruises until the ship and crew becomes more seasoned, yet many cruisers want to be "first" in line. We were on an early sailing of Symphony and notices some of the newer features like the robot bar and carousel were not operational.

What's the timeframe most have observed for a new ship to hit its stride? (weeks/months/yr?)

Tags: maiden voyages

13 Answers

Ive never done it, and don't plan to. I can understand the romantic (or egotistical) appeal of being on a ships maiden voyage. Im going to guess that cruiselines (if theyre smart)..give out some trinkets to commemorate the thing...or sell em. More importantly, is the fact that a huge ship is nothing more than a gigantic piece of complicated machinery. Stuff just doesn't work the way is supposed to, or doesn't work at all. The crew is in two parts. The hotel side, including cooks, servers of all types, paper pushers, you name it. The rest are actual ship side mechanics, plumbers, electricians, and engineers, who actually are responsible to the Captain and Chief Engineer. My .02 is that any new ship will take a bare minimum of 6 months of actual cruising and weather for everything to shake down. I don't find it that romantic to have defective kitchen equipment, plumbing, HVAC equipment (the list is endless) get in the way of enjoying the ship. Unless you've stayed in a cabin where stuff doesn't work, or food is screwed up because the kitchen(s) have equipment problems you cant imagine how bad the experience can be. I have, and wouldn't "deliberately" expose us to that. Navy types I pal around with have been on shakedown cruises, on aircraft carriers to submarines. Stuff doesn't work, and they shut up and try to fix it or make do. They get paid to do that. YOU just paid 3-4-5K+ for the privilege.

I know some folks would cruise on it regardless. I saw a tv show where a new ship did a 24 hr shakedown cruise with passengers just to find all the defects. They thought it was fun, and booked passage years b4 it was even completed apparently.. No thanks, not for me..

We have sailed (twice) on the "first sailing from the US port" for a new ship. Even after the European sailings and Trans Atlantic crossing, things have gone awry. The first was the Carnival Dream with a stop in San Juan, we couldn't dock because the guide wires at the port would have cut the life boats. The Captain tried several times and none of the piers were able to accommodate the ship. We also lost power a few times. The worst was a two and a half hour outage in the middle of the day. For us personally it wasn't a problem (we in the Serenity area), but there were people stuck in the elevators. We had a few fluctuations with 10 -15 minute outages after that. The second was the Regal Princess. The major problem on that sailing was the ship vibrated and never seemed like a smooth ride. The kitchen and wait staff were slow and seemed confused about what when and where things were (this almost put us off on Princess). So we have decided that we will wait a bit before sailing on a new ship. We did sail on the Carnival Vista during it's first year about 8 months from the inaugural US sailing and everything seemed to work fine (we just weren't fond of the ship layout), although there were a few things broken (fixture on the mini golf, etc.) probably by passengers.

Bottom line: It is fun to be on a new ship but expect hiccups minor and major. If you want to avoid some hiccups wait 6-8 months before you sail on a new ship but don't expect that "new car" I mean "new ship" smell.

Those that want the first cruise on a new ship are doing it for their ego and to be seen and to try to make others envious. The crews are new and do not yet have a routine, the kinks are still not worked out of the scheduling or the ship itself. When you buy a new home they tell you don't paint it or do anything for the first year because things need to settle in and become more "permanent". Not exactly the same but similar with a new ship or a new anything of any size and complexity.Aunt Pinky says 6 - 8 months and I think that is a very good number.

Think about any cruise you have been on that you really enjoyed One of the factors for that would be how smooth and seamless everything is and how smooth and seamless everything runs. That comes from a seasoned crew that has worked together as a team for some time. Just like a sports team. The ones that play together and practice together are usually better than the star filled ones that just got together with no prior experience together.

Those 6 - 8 months allow the ship to settle and the crew to gel to give you the best experience on the new ship.


I usually wait a few months before I go on a new cruise. I've been on 25+ and I haven't had a bad experience with newer ships.

I agree with just about all of the above. Except, I say wait at least a year. Seems like back when I was in the air transportation game and we also owned stuff like hotels, restaurants, ski resorts, sport fish camps, ect. every time we had an opening night, inaugural flight, etc. everything went wrong. Once in a while we get invites to restaurants when they give you a free meal while they work the bugs out. No thanks.

I guess a new cruise ship is like a new brand of car on the market, wait a couple years before buying it so that all the bugs are worked out of it.

Ask me again when I get off Norwegian Encore...the newest ship I'll have been on.

That's not the reason I wanted to try it, however. I've never been on Norwegian and I wanted to try the cruise line.

You will love it

Yep, I agree with all the above. I have not done an inaugural cruise and think I would wait a few months. I have also learned during the first cruise out of dry dock can be challenging.

I agree with the critics - if you're paying premium for a new ship or updated - things should be working. After cruising Symphony with a few bugs - we'll wait a year until all the bugs are worked out

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