The new inaugural, a seven-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary, will leave on December 5, 2009. The cruise features the same itinerary as the December 12 sailing, with stops in St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Nassau. Royal Caribbean has also added a new pre-inaugural sampler voyage; the four-night preview cruise, which features a stop at its private island at Labadee and a couple of sea days, will depart December 1.
For those who are confirmed on the inaugural there's some good news if you can be flexible with your dates. These passengers will be contacted by their travel agents (or Royal Caribbean if the cruise was booked directly with the line) and given first dibs at swapping their sailing for the December 5 departure.
You have until January 11 to make the switch. On January 12, the sailings will be available for sale to all comers.
Specific details surrounding what Royal Caribbean is calling the "re-accommodation period" for confirmed December 12 cruisers, include the following:
If you choose to sail consecutively on both the December 1 and 5, 2009 voyages, you'll receive a $200 onboard credit per stateroom ($300 onboard credit per suite).
Those who decide to take either the December 1 or 5 sailing will be re-accommodated in the same stateroom and category. The cruise fare for the December 5 sailing will remain unchanged.
Passengers wishing to sail on the four-night voyage will receive a prorated fare.
"Expansions" of the inaugural seasons are not altogether uncommon. Of particular note, RCI sister line Celebrity Cruises rescheduled the inaugural cruise for Celebrity Solstice three weeks earlier than the original date. The move, made less than sixth months prior to the original maiden voyage, sparked controversy, angering a number of Cruise Critic members.
--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor
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