Carnival Corporation knows a thing or two about cruising. The largest cruise company in the world, they offer 10 cruise brands that cover destinations around the globe. But their newcomer, Fathom™, is breaking all the rules, and for cruising families the payoff has the potential to be huge.
Fathom™ is designed for people who love to travel and want to make a difference in the places they visit. Beginning in April, the line will offer weeklong cruises to the north coast of the Dominican Republic. Unlike traditional cruises that typically spend just one day in each location, Fathom™ will dock at Amber Cove (the Caribbean’s newest cruise port) and stay put for four days, allowing families to immerse themselves in a new culture, work alongside its residents and help foster change. The company calls this approach “impact travel.” And the best part: You only have to be 8 or older to do your share.
How can a young child make an impact? It’s easier than you think. One option for committed cruisers is spending time in a local school, helping children learn and practice English by reading, writing and singing. You don’t have to be a teacher to make a connection, and when it comes to kids working with kids, the translation just seems to happen naturally.
A partnership with nonprofit organization Wine to Water enables travelers to create water filters using clay, sawdust and silver, then distribute them to local communities that have no access to safe, clean water.
A volunteer work ethic comes with a sweet reward for those who spend a day making chocolate with the women of Chocal. More than two dozen women who needed and wanted jobs came together and became small business owners when they created this company. The extra hands provided by Fathom™ cruise guests will enable them to increase chocolate production. Warning: You will want to bring chocolate home with you, so leave some wiggle room in your carry-on.
All of the activities are organized through partnerships with leading, trusted programs. Families don’t need to vet organizations and should not have concerns about safety.
Food has a unique way of forging friendships. Knowing that great things can happen when people gather at a table, the company has given food a starring role in Fathom™ itineraries. Traditional Dominican meals prepared by local residents are a given each workday. Along with introducing cruisers to new foods, it creates jobs for cooks.
Of course, no family vacation can be all work and no play. Fathom™ cruise itineraries offer opportunities to relax on the beach or simply sit by a pool.
With an average Dominican Republic household income of less than $6,000, sheer numbers reveal the potential that this new way to travel could have. But Fathom™ isn’t stopping there. Sailings to Cuba are expected to begin in May 2016.
When my daughter was 16, she spent a chunk of her summer doing service work in Thailand with Adventures Cross-Country (ARCC). Her pictures made me wish I was a kid again, and, more importantly, made me realize how nice it would be to do some good when traveling as a family. Fathom™ seems to have figured out how to make that happen, creating a unique cruising package that makes service fun, easy and financially affordable — cruises to the Dominican Republic start as low as $974.
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Editor’s Note: Dana was part of an international group of media invited to visit Amber Cove and take part in planned Fathom™ activities. As always her thoughts and opinions are her own. Photos by Dana Rebmann.
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