The Celebrity Solstice will make its inaugural cruise on November 23th, 2008. The cruise ship marks the birth of a new class of ships for Celebrity cruises. The new ships, the Solstice and the Equinox, will have many innovations and features not available on Celebrity’s current fleet. These features include multiple alternative and casual dining venues, a glass blowing show, a complete circus style show and a grass lawn.
The Solstice, the first to be built, took one more major step this week towards its completion. The ship was moved out of the dry dock building area and into the ship yard where it underwent extensive engine testing. Over the next week, in addition to the more mundane work, the ship will have its two funnels installed in preparation for it sea testing scheduled for September 27th, 2008.
The debut of the the Solstice has not been without controversy. The inaugural voyage was moved up by two weeks after the initial sales had begun. In fairness, Celebrity did give passengers booked on the original date the chance to reschedule to the new earlier debut cruise with no extra charges. Many passengers, having booked the cruise for inaugural experience, moved to the new date if their schedules permitted the move. However, what is perhaps causing the most controversy, is that “Cruises Only” travel agency is selling spots on a Nov 21st charter pre-inaugural two day cruise to nowhere. Usually cruise lines have some sort of pre-inaugural cruises where only company family, travel agents, or VIP’s are invited, not the general public. I suspect that several these “Shake Down” cruises will take place before the two day “Cruises Only” charter. But many of the passengers who have booked the inaugural cruise are expressing disappointment on the cruise message boards that their inaugural voyage may not be so inaugural after all.
For me personally, I would be hesitant to book any inaugural cruise. Running a cruise ship is such an extensive operation that despite planning and experienced crew members, the cruise line may just need a few voyages to work out all the “bugs” in their on board operations. I have feeling that most passengers who booked these inaugurals are aware that things may not run completely smoothly, but they choose to book the cruise anyway to take advantage of the excitement revolving around an inaugural cruise.
I wish all these cruisers the best whether on the 2 day charter or the official inaugural. I can’t wait to hear from them when they return from their voyages.