Fathom, a new cruise line owned by Carnival, got underway this week with its inaugural cruise. This isn’t your ordinary cruise; it is voluntourism writ large. With approximately 750 passengers on board, the MV Adonia will arrive at Amber Cove every other week bringing a small army of volunteers. For the inaugural cruise, Fathom invited a few journalists along, including me.
We set sail Sunday, April 17, 2017 about 4:00 PM from Miami headed to our single destination, Amber Cove, near Puerto Plata, a city founded by Christopher Columbus before 1500.
Passengers will have nearly four days for volunteering and fun, arriving on Tuesday afternoon and leaving for Miami on Friday afternoon. This approach also gives passengers an opportunity to spend time in the city in the evening, a rare feature on cruises (typically, cruise ships sail at night to be in a different port most days of a trip).
One of the first signs that this cruise would be different was the set of “fair trade” toiletries we found in the bathroom. Fathom is working to ensure that there is integrity in the effort to do good on this trip.
This evening, Fathom’s President Tara Russell hosted a small group of journalists at her table, giving us an opportunity to get to know her better. We also met her family members who are traveling with her.
I first connected with Tara after my wife told me about Fathom nearly a year ago. Tara appeared on the Your Mark on the World show in an episode produced for Forbes here.
Tara is passionately committed to driving real impact, but recognizes the need for the business to be profitable without stealing passengers from other Carnival cruise lines.
One of the strategic ideas for Fathom was that by incorporating service they might attract younger passengers, including more Millennials, who hadn’t cruised before; it seems to be working. No longer in my forties, I am certainly among the older set on this cruise. Tara, who is about 40, appears to be about the median age of the passengers. During the muster drill the crew asked who had not cruised before and nearly every hand went up.
Aaron Hurst, the social entrepreneur CEO and Founder of Imperative and author of The Purpose Economy is on board. In fact, a copy of his book was waiting in our stateroom when we boarded.
The ship is full of socially-minded, good people and I’m looking forward to meeting them with hopes of telling their stories.
This week, I will do my best to provide a report on the activities each day. Internet access in the Caribbean is dicey so be patient if you don’t see a report.