Empress of the Seas

Here’s a quick look at what’s new this week in cruising, and how it could impact your next trip…

    • Proving everything old is new again, the 25-year-old Empress of the Seas (formerly the Nordic Empress) is back in Royal Caribbean International’s fleet after a stint with Spanish line Pullmantur. Following some renovations, the 1,602-passenger vessel will sail four- and five-night cruises from Miami to the Bahamas and the Caribbean beginning in March. On board, look for daily brunches with a complimentary mimosa or Bloody Mary, a new Las Vegas-style show, and flexible dining while making stops in Nassau, Cozumel, Costa Maya, Grand Cayman, and Key West.
      Fares are from $209 per person.
    • Passengers on Crystal Cruises' newly christened, 62-passenger Crystal Esprit have access to one of the coolest cruise toys ever: a mini submarine. For $599 per person, you and a companion can take a private, 30-minute underwater excursion in the gadget  -- with a submarine driver, of course. The luxury ship also has a bunch of water toys you can use for free, including jet skis, zodiacs, and snorkeling equipment.
      Prices are from $4,960 for Seychelles cruises.
    • While "impact travel" cruise line Fathom is aimed at those who want to do volunteer work on vacation, that doesn't mean there won't be time to play. On seven-day cruises to the Dominican Republic, passengers will have the chance to learn to scuba dive and do some zip lining, among other activities.
      Fares are from $974 and include volunteer activities; recreation is extra.
    • Carnival Corp., the parent company of Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America, Princess Cruises, and other lines, is working with The Humane Society to have its 10 brands source only cage-free eggs by 2025. Royal Caribbean recently made a similar cage-free commitment.
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