Carnival Cruise Lines' new brand will offer "social impact travel," combining the amenities of a cruise with the opportunity to do volunteer work in developing countries.
Carnival Cruise Lines launches a new brand: fathom. Aimed at the volunteer tourist market, fathom’s first ship, the MV Adonia, sails April 2016 for 7-day voyages from Miami to the Dominican Republic.
Carnival, in a June 4 news release, labels the new travel category “social impact travel.” Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation, says “We believe travel is a meaningful way to allow for personal growth while making purposeful and engaging contributions to the world.”
It’s a clever concept. In creating the new cruise brand, Carnival tackles 3 of the primary problems for volunteers: discovering a meaningful program that will be sustained; finding lodging and food in undeveloped or needy communities; and balancing doing good with having fun on vacation.
“Travelers will work in partnership with proven, trusted local organizations on the ground…,” says Tara Russell, President of fathom. “fathom will bring in hundreds of travelers to a destination on a regular basis, …allowing fathom travelers to make a collective, transformative impact that they know will extend far beyond their involvement.”
Passengers build their own schedules, choosing up to 3 volunteer activities per cruise. Working with locals, cruisers can cultivate cacao plants at a nursery, teach English to children and adults, and build water filters out of clay. Afterwards, travelers can opt for shore tours or explore on their own.
During the sea day before reaching the port of Amber Cove, Puerto Plata, travelers are briefed about their programs. Back onboard the 710-passenger ship, volunteers can enjoy comfortable cabins, cruise food, spa treatments and Dominican-themed entertainment.
Carnival anticipates the market for the fathom product to be Millennials who seek to make a difference; parents who want to their children to learn about other parts of the world; as well as adults 50+ who yearn to do something more rewarding than just writing checks.
The minimum age to participate in the volunteer program is 8 years-old. Decisions about whether Carnival will host children’s and teen’s programs and what those may entail are still pending.