(12:24 p.m. EST) -- Celebrity Cruises has revealed it will welcome its first new-build ship in six years, Celebrity Edge, earlier than expected. Edge was due to launch December 2018, but five sailings have been added -- marking the new inaugural cruise date as November 21, 2018 from Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades.
The new sailings will include four "mini-preview" itineraries, each spanning three nights to the Bahamas from Port Everglades; they will depart November 21 and 24, and December 3 and 6.
In addition, Celebrity has added a second seven-night maiden voyage to Edge's schedule, opening up the option to visit the Eastern or Western Caribbean. The first cruise departs on December 9 from Fort Lauderdale and will call on Key West, Costa Maya, Cozumel and Grand Cayman. The second will embark on December 16 and stop in San Juan, Tortola and Philipsburg, St. Maarten. The cruises can be combined for a single 14-night Caribbean sailing.
"Thanks to the amazing work of the STX France shipyard team, the industry-changing Celebrity Edge is now scheduled to arrive much earlier than anticipated, which gave us the opportunity to offer not one, but two maiden voyages," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises in a news release.
"Both of these maiden voyages, plus the taste of luxury preview sailings, will have all of the festivities one would expect from the launch of such a revolutionary new ship, and now even more guests will have the chance to experience these one-of-a-kind inaugural sailings."
Bookings are now open for the new Celebrity Edge sailings. In 2019, after its maiden season, Edge will head abroad to sail Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona and Rome, with a mini-cruise from Southampton.
This isn't the first news of a major cruise ship launch coming in ahead of schedule for 2018. In October, Royal Caribbean announced that its massive Oasis-class ship Symphony of the Seas, originally slated to sail in mid-April, would offer cruises beginning in March. The vessel is also being constructed at STX France, the same shipyard as Celebrity Edge.
For renderings of what Celebrity Edge will look like, check out this slideshow.
--By Brittany Chrusciel, Associate Editor