Recently, Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise company, introduced Fathom, a new social interaction and voluntourism cruise brand. Initial seven-night cruises will begin in April 2016 from PortMiami – sailing roundtrip from South Florida to the Dominican Republic for land-based charitable and social interaction. Craig Travel will be offering this product to independent clients, noting that “our clients have found similar experiences on some of our past group tours very rewarding and have expressed a desire to take part in other, more focused voluntourism opportunities outside of our group departures.”
Carnival cited that country's spectacular beauty and great needs, noting that the average household income is approximately $6,000 per year and that more than two million Dominicans do not have access to piped water.
Definitely, Fathom isn't your typical cruise product. Clients won't find a casino, Broadway production shows or all the bells and whistles of the latest mega-ships. The brand will use P&O's Adonia, a former ship for the now defunct Renaissance Cruises. This older, 730-passenger ship also previously sailed as Royal Princess in past service for Princess Cruises, before the line had a new ship of that same name.
Fathom's goal is for people to enjoy a vacation with the sole purpose of "giving back to the community," helping those in need and learning about other cultures.
Examples of what cruisers will do ashore on a Fathom cruise? In the Dominican Republic, they'll possibly help cultivate cacao plants and organic fertilizer at a nursery and assist a local women’s cooperative in producing artisanal chocolates. They'll work side-by-side with Dominican school teachers in classrooms to teach English skills and help boost students’ academic performance.
They'll also 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. And they'll give support to craft and build water filters with clay, and then deliver those to local families.
Some cruise lines, including Holland America and Crystal Cruises, admirably offer onboard program options in which guests can go ashore in certain destinations and do good deeds. But that’s not the focus of the entire ship. And cruisers on those lines' ships usually seek plenty of pampering and onboard entertainment as well.
So Fathom fills a void. “A good number of consumers have expressed an interest in more unique experiences where they can invest their time and help out locally while on a vacation,” stresses Drew Daly, general manager of network engagement and performance,CruiseOne and Cruises Inc.
From Daly’s perspective, “there is no other product that exists today providing these travelers with the chance to experience a cruise and the benefits of investing their time and energy on something bigger than themselves.”