fathom will operate as a stand alone brand, the 10th global brand in the Carnival Corporation family. Beginning in April 2016, fathom will embark on 7-day voyages from PortMiami aboard the MV Adonia, a 710-passenger vessel. Originally built by the defunct Renaissance Cruise, the ship is being redeployed from Carnival Corporation’s P&O Cruises (UK) for the start-up of the new operation. Depending on their passions, interests and skills, travelers will have the opportunity to choose from a range of social impact activities and experiences both onboard and onshore.
Travel That Creates Social Impact
“fathom will cater to a growing market of consumers who want to have a positive impact on people’s lives, and aren’t always sure where to begin,” said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. “We believe travel is a meaningful way to allow for personal growth while making purposeful and engaging contributions to the world. We are so pleased that fathom will give travelers a unique opportunity to work alongside local people as part of a larger scale effort that will demonstrably improve lives. Both our travelers and the local citizens will learn and benefit from the opportunity to serve together.”
Based on extensive market research, fathom has identified a sizable and growing market of potential social impact travel consumers, approximately one million North Americans who are strongly predisposed, in addition to global travelers already pursuing service-oriented travel experiences worldwide, who will be interested in this type of travel offering. In addition, the company believes fathom will attract a significant number of travelers who have never before cruised. According to research, nearly 40 percent of the individuals who will book a social impact trip on fathom might otherwise never have chosen to cruise.
The company expects to be particularly popular among:
• Millennials: people in their 20s and 30s looking to make a difference in the world;Dominican Republic is fathom’s First Partner Destination
• Parents: seeking a way to open their children’s eyes to other parts of the world in a meaningful way (approximately half of travelers are expected to be families); and
• Adults 50+ years of age: eager to find rewarding ways to help other people apart from writing a check.
The new brand selected the Puerto Plata region of the Dominican Republic as its first impact destination based on a number of factors: genuine needs, infrastructure to support social initiatives, enthusiasm for the fathom concept by locals at all layers of society including country officials, its location (proximity to Miami and Amber Cove, the new Dominican destination being launched by Carnival Corporation in October 2015), its innate beauty. The fathom team worked closely with local Dominicans, resident Dominican business and educational leaders, Dominican government officials and leading non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country to fully understand the societal needs and determine the best way for fathom to participate in addressing those needs.
A portion of every ticket purchase price* will go directly to fathom partner organizations to cover on-the-ground activities in the Dominican Republic, including supplies, travel, personnel to assist with the activities, and funding to support the partner organizations’ overall missions. This sustained partnership between fathom and its impact partners allows these organizations to have predictable revenue streams to even further amplify their missions.
The fathom journey is a carefully designed, holistic impact journey and will begin with one to two days at sea preparing hearts and minds for the on-the-ground experience, including a wide variety of fun and engaging impact-readiness experiences, ranging from an orientation to the Dominican Republic, conversational Spanish lessons, impact activity training, creative workshops, personal enrichment and much more. fathom travelers may build their own schedules and will have the flexibility each day to choose from a variety of social impact and recreational activities. At launch, the company will offer a selection of fun, immersive, and meaningful activities focused on education, the environment, and economic development along with all the incredible experiences the Puerto Plata region innately has to offer.
Impact activities will vary in length from a few hours to multiple days. Depending on their passions and skills, travelers may spend up to three days on causes they care about, working alongside locals and fathom partner organizations on one or more projects suitable for a wide range of ages, levels of skill and amounts of physical activity. Sample activities may include:
• Economic Development: Help cultivate cacao plants and organic fertilizer at a nursery and assist a local women’s cooperative in producing artisan chocolates. This activity is designed to produce high-quality plants to increase farmers’ yields through sustainable practices and, importantly, create income opportunities for rural women.When not participating in social impact activities, travelers will enjoy exploring the beauty of the region, experiencing the many Dominican beaches and sites of interest, or participating in any one of an array of different recreational activities available to the entire family of Carnival Corporation brands visiting Amber Cove and the Puerto Plata region. The onboard experience will be customized to this unique travel market, including specialized, purposeful retail options and amenities, as well as geographically inspired menus, music, and additional onboard cultural immersion. While docked in the Dominican Republic, the fathom ship will serve as a comfortable, convenient home-base for travelers. Additional information can be found at fathom.org.
• Educational: Work side by side with Dominican school teachers to teach English skills and help boost students’ academic performance; and participate in adult-learning programs to teach small groups of local community members conversational English to help improve their ability to qualify for jobs that provide a higher level of income.
• Environmental: Provide hands-on support to craft and build water filters using clay, a natural resource found locally, and deliver those filters to families throughout the community to provide healthy drinking water. With limited piped water supply, this will make a meaningful difference in the quality of people’s lives throughout the region.
We applaud Carnival Corporation for their philanthropy, but wonder if this is the first step to position one of their ships for people-to-people style journeys when the US government opens travel to Cuba from American ports in the future. Time will tell.
* This “voluntourism” or short missionary trip at sea isn’t inexpensive. The base price for two in an outside stateroom is a whopping $3,640.