Want to know which ocean and river cruise lines will be offering new ideas in 2016? Nick Dalton has the answers

The Golden Gap on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, UK. Credit: iStock
The Golden Gap on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, UK. Credit: iStock

Fathom is a new brand from Carnival that aims to give cruising a socially aware tag, with voyages around Cuba and the Dominican Republic (on the ship that was previously known as P&O’s Adonia, starting in April 2016) helping out in educational, environmental and economic projects while enjoying local, sustainable food. Prices start from around £1,000, cruise only but include onshore ‘social impact activities’ (00 1206 626 8300; fathom.org).

Overnight stays in port continue to be a big trend for 2016 – instead of dashing round a place by day and being sailing by teatime, they give you the chance to amble back after a sunset drink and head out again after dinner. They also allow you to enjoy a more ‘immersive’ experience – tours that allow you to see behind the veneer of a destination, sometimes with tea or dinners in local homes, or with private concerts in palaces.

Princess Cruises also has a new take on excursions with its TV-linked nature adventures in Europe and Alaska. There are wildlife watching (and often meeting) trips with Animal Planet and looks behind historical sites with the Discovery Channel. On board there’s plenty going on with more themed cruises than ever, whether it’s chefs or yoga, golf or ballroom dancing, top name music acts to TV comedy stars.

There are also plenty of attempts to persuade you to upgrade your cruise, whether for added extras – Royal Caribbean launches its Royal Suite Class with a ‘Royal Genie’ butler, free internet, drinks package and speciality dining – or for food, with cruise companies providing more and more restaurants at a price. It used to be that speciality restaurants were a flat fee for a special treat but there are increasingly outlets for everything from sushi to gourmet burgers, often with item-by-item pricing.

It’s not easy finding new destinations, but there are always new itineraries. Viking Sea has a novel Bergen to the Bosphorus cruise (departing 31 July 2016) that takes you from Norway to Istanbul in 15 days, taking in Lisbon, Malta and Athens (from £3,190pp, vikingcruises.co.uk). There are more cruises around the UK than ever – Saga Cruises even has one (departing Dover 14 June 2016, from £749pp) that calls at Portland in Dorset for the Jurassic Coast before nipping over to France.

And even if a new ship isn’t on the horizon, there’s a new experience – Azamara Club Cruises is giving both its boutique-feel ships, Quest and Journey, a complete, radical refit before the summer season (azamaraclubcruises.co.uk).

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