My Sailing on Fathom’s New Social Impact Cruise
A couple weeks ago, I set sail with Fathom, a new cruise line that integrates social impact work with cruising. With ports currently in the Dominican Republic and Cuba, Fathom has created a unique experience for travelers who are interested in offering community service or cultural immersion within these developing countries, while still enjoying the perks that most cruise lines provide.
All Fathom cruises sail on the Adonia, which is a 700-passenger vessel owned by Carnival Cruise Line. The Adonia was recently remodeled for the inaugural sailing and future impact experiences.
In this post, I will be recapping my 7-day inaugural cruise to the Dominican Republic with Fathom, including a bit about the impact activities I participated in as well. I will be diving in deeper on the activities in a future post, so stay tuned for that.
The Adonia is definitely the smallest cruise ship that I had ever sailed on, which had me curious before I set foot onboard. Unfortunately, Fathom’s website doesn’t say much about the vessel’s offerings (which is probably a result of the newness of cruise line), other than the specs I listed in the paragraphs above. Did the Adonia have a full-service spa? What types of activities were offered onboard? Is room service an option? Were there impact training courses available before the activities off-shore? These were the questions floating in my head.
So, here’s the scoop.
The ship is on the smaller size, but doesn’t feel uncomfortably small. In fact, it was the least crowded cruise that I’ve ever been on. Because the load was light, the check-in process was fast and the ship never felt too overwhelming with people while onboard. The size also made it perfect for meeting my fellow passengers and really getting to know them. The size of the ship and passenger count was an intentional move on Fathom’s part and it really does work for bringing the onboard “community” together.
As far as the services and activities onboard go, I was pleased to see that the Adonia did indeed have a full-service spa (where I later enjoyed a hot stone massage and acupuncture treatment), daily and nighttime entertainment (a cover band, DJ, dancing), and activities that were both impact-related (preparation for land activities) and for leisure (wine and paint, for one). However, there isn’t room service (though there is a buffet, quick-service station and a couple of table service options available at nearly any time), a casino or youth groups/daycare that a traditional cruise ship may provide.
I stayed in an ocean view cabin, along with a colleague of mine, which included two twin beds, a small couch, desk area, roomy closets, plenty of drawer space and a decent-sized bathroom. Our cabin felt big enough for the both of us and was clean and organized when we arrived. Some issues we did run into with the cabin during sailing was the lack of hot water in the shower (we did find out that it helped to run the shower for around 7 minutes or so before getting in), towels that needed replacing and a toilet that briefly ran out of water. In the grand scheme of Fathom’s social good impact initiative, these first-world problems are absolutely minor and I had certainly experienced similar issues on other cruise lines (and hotels, for that matter) but I did want to include it here nonetheless. Our cabin housekeeper was very friendly and kept our room spotless during our entire stay, even including a regular turn-down service every evening.
So, for the size of the ship and the personality of the social impact traveler who would choose a trip like this for themselves and/or their family, I fully believe that the Adonia’s offerings were more than satisfactory. While the idea of social impact cruising isn’t meant to focus on comfort, entertainment, and leisure alone, it’s extremely important to have these elements in place to off-set the hard work that is being made on the ground. Overall, I felt that Fathom did a great job of doing just that.
As I mentioned earlier, I will be elaborating more on each activity I participated in at a later time, but I did want to give you a taste of what I worked on, as well as other impact offerings that are available to passengers.
In total, there are a few social impact activities that passengers can choose from when sailing to the Dominican Republic and cultural immersion activities to Cuba. For my trip to the D.R., I chose the following:
Chocal. A small chocolate factory created by local women who wanted to create an income using local resources (cacao trees). Volunteers can help with chocolate production, sorting through cacao beans, and wrapping the finished chocolate candy.
Community English. A chance to teach basic English to a Domican family, using a lesson plan that Fathom has put together.
Repapel. A Fathom-funded recycled paper and crafts initiative. Fathom guests help separate paper, make crafts, and create paper.
Other activities include reforestation and laying concrete floors, which I heard were WONDERFUL and incredibly rewarding.
Upon disembarking the Adonia last Sunday, I have been reflecting on my experiences and how to properly write them out.
First of all, this type of cruise is truly unique. The bright side to this new form of travel is that it opens doors to individuals who want to make a change in the world, but aren’t sure how to or where to start. These travelers want to do more than just write checks to sponsored programs overseas (which I still fully support, too) and really get their hands dirty in a tangible way. I respect Fathom’s mission to get people thinking about social impact in an entirely different manner and making this accessible to anyone.
Saying that, this type of trip isn’t for the traveler who wants or needs a vast selection of amenities onboard or who would choose to not sign-up for impact activities. Social impact is the reason to sail with Fathom, so travelers who aren’t excited or open to this important element will more than likely be disappointed with their experience.
Since Fathom is a brand spanking new travel experience, it isn’t quite perfect yet. With my trip being the very first sailing, I certainly didn’t expect the ship or impact activities to be fully polished and, frankly, it would be unfair to assume otherwise.
In addition, I really did feel that Fathom offered a great balance of social good work and leisure time within the cruise. After a long day of impact work, it was nice getting back on board to relax in the cabin, eat a good meal or drink a glass of wine in one of the lounges. These comforts allowed me to reset for the next day of activities, which gave me the energy and mindset I needed to help the communities I served in.
I’m excited to watch Fathom grow in this new social good travel space and I’m grateful that I was a part of this inaugural sailing.
If you are interested in sailing with Fathom, here are their current rates:
Fathom sponsored my travel accommodations for this trip. Post contain affiliate links.