At one time there was a running joke about how to get a free cruise, “Just book a maiden sailing and be compensated with a refund and future cruise credit when it’s cancelled.”
Thankfully, that’s a situation we haven’t seen happen in the cruise industry for a long time—the delay of a new ship introduction. Until now.
Oceania Cruises has announced that their new ship Riviera will sail her maiden voyage on April 24, 2012—10 days later than originally planned. The line said they have rescheduled Riviera’s first revenue cruise to allow additional time for the staff to familiarize themselves with the ship’s facilities and fine-tune the countless details required to deliver the Oceania Cruises Experience. With sister-ship Marina (pictured here) already in service, that seems rather odd. Most cruise lines simply transfer a core of experienced employees to the new ship from the one they have learned the ropes on.
In any event, the new maiden voyage is a 12-day Ancient Grandeur itinerary that sails from Athens and visits Alexandria and Port Said, Haifa and Ashdod (Jerusalem), Alanya, Rhodes, Patmos and Kusadasi (Ephesus) before ending with an overnight stay onboard ship in Istanbul.
Oceania Cruises guests who were booked on the original 10-night maiden voyage will be moved to the new, longer sailing at no additional cost and will also receive a $250 per guest shipboard credit as a gesture of goodwill from Oceania Cruises. Guests who desire a different voyage may book any other Oceania Cruises’ itinerary and receive a $250 per guest future cruise credit. In the event guests wish to cancel, they will receive a full refund.
While the line's announcement stated that travel agent commissions will be protected, there was no word on whether passengers who have booked their own air for the original sailing will be reimbursed for fees related to airline flight changes.