May 9, 2003
Royal Caribbean has quietly moved forward the inaugural sailing of its Mariner of the Seas by one week. The launch date of the ship was moved ahead, says a spokeswoman, simply because its shipyard was ready to release it early. As a result, the maiden voyage, previously slated for November 23 from Port Canaveral, will take place on November 16. Beyond the "inaugural" status of the November 23rd sailing, passengers who've booked that week won't notice any difference, the spokeswoman says, because the launch hoopla (including naming ceremony) was -- and will -- take place during an invitation-only one-night cruise-to-nowhere. With the addition of the extra cruise, Mariner of the Seas, which will be sailing weeklong alternate eastern and western Caribbean itineraries from Port Canaveral, will still begin with the Nassau-St. Thomas-Philipsburg route. In fact, the ship will sail the Eastern Caribbean itinerary for the first two weeks (so the ports for the original inaugural voyage remain the same) and then will cruise as scheduled. Passengers who had booked on the maiden voyage sailing and are disappointed at the change can be switched to November 16 as availability warrants.