Here’s a quick look at what’s new this week in cruising, and how it could impact your next trip…
- Another river cruise company is heading for the big seas. In the category of "Wow, I wish I could afford it," all-inclusive luxury river cruise line Scenic is launching the ocean-cruising, 228-passenger Scenic Eclipse in 2018. Everyone onboard the all-suite ship will stay spacious digs and enjoy gourmet food, of course. But the "wow" element comes from the fact that the ship will have a pair of twin-engine helicopters for flightseeing, plus a custom-built, seven-seat submarine for undersea exploration (extra charges apply). Itineraries will include the Arctic and Antarctic, North and South America, and the Mediterranean.
- Following last week's announcement from Crystal Cruises to skip Turkey on upcoming sailings, many other lines are following suit. MSC Cruises won't be stopping in Istanbul and Izmir as originally planned; Norwegian Cruise Line and sister companies Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises have together cancelled 61 port calls planned in Turkey in 2016. Many of these ships will head to Greece and other destinations instead of Turkey.
- If you're concerned about the environment, a new five-year partnership between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) might be welcome news. To promote ocean conservation, the parent company of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, and Azamara Cruises set goals to reduce its own environmental footprint and pledged a cool $5 million to support WWF. New onboard experiences with an eye toward building awareness are also forthcoming, though we don't have the details yet.
- Attention, do-gooders: Four new activities are available for volunteer-focused cruisers on Carnival Corp.'s social-impact focused line, Fathom, which launches this spring. In the Dominican Republic, cruisers can work to improve homes in impoverished communities, assist patients with special needs at a rehab center, and work with arts & crafts makers at a women's coop. There will also be opportunities to visit local families in their homes -- with helping them brush up on their English skills as the "volunteer" element.