(3:45 p.m. EDT) -- For the second time, Royal Caribbean has announced that the maiden voyage for Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas' twin, will take place earlier than originally scheduled.
Allure of the Seas' inaugural season will now begin with a four-night cruise, departing Port Everglades on December 1, 2010. The itinerary will feature two days at sea and a call at Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private beach destination on the northern coast of Haiti. It was only last month that Royal Caribbean announced that it was moving the original maiden voyage, first scheduled for December 12, to December 5.
According to a statement from the line, passengers already booked on the December 5 inaugural seven-night voyage have until April 30, 2010, to choose to be re-accommodated in the same stateroom on the new cruise. Any price difference will be adjusted on their booking. Additionally, these guests will receive $100 onboard credit per stateroom when adding the new four-night cruise to their existing December 5 booking for an 11-night grand Western Caribbean adventure.
Members of the Crown & Anchor Society, the cruise line's loyalty program, and the public can book passage on Allure of the Seas' new voyage beginning March 31, 2010.
It's the fifth time in a row -- six if you count the fact that Allure's maiden voyage has been changed twice -- that either Royal Caribbean or sister line Celebrity Cruises has rescheduled a maiden voyage for a new ship. In the last two years, the "inaugural voyages" have been moved up for Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Eclipse and Celebrity Equinox, as well as Allure's enormous sister ship Oasis of the Seas.
Our advice? If sailing on a new ship's inaugural voyage, which often features commemorative events and freebies, is important to you, you may want to wait to book -- just in case the dates change. The closest in the lines have made such a change is six months out.
--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor