Spe­cial Re­port

The Dif­fer­ence a Year Makes: Fathom’s im­pact in the Do­mini­can Repub­lic

Porthole Cruise Magazine - - Contents - BY CRAIG ZABRAN­SKY

Her smile never faded even as she started to wipe a tear from her face. The Fathom cruise pas­sen­ger re­lived the very mo­ment that touched her heart dur­ing a prior cruise. She shared each and ev­ery de­scrip­tive de­tail of her em­brace and how this one hug with a lo­cal re­cip­i­ent of a new wa­ter fil­ter changed her. This mo­ment be­came the very rea­son she de­cided to book an­other cruise aboard Ado­nia for a Fathom cruise to the Do­mini­can Repub­lic. No one in the room seemed even slightly sur­prised by the out­pour­ing of emo­tion. Ev­ery­one un­der­stood and most shared sim­i­lar sto­ries.

Nor­mally a meet­ing of re­peat pas­sen­gers on a cruise ship is a cock­tail party con­tain­ing dis­cus­sions on fa­vorite ad­ven­tures in ex­otic ports of call or the best cruise ships and itin­er­ar­ies, which are all great con­ver­sa­tions. Yet on Fathom the re­u­nion was a chance to share how travel made an im­pact not just on the lo­cals, but on its pas­sen­gers as well.

The sto­ries con­tin­ued when an­other woman shared and spoke of re­turn­ing more than three times to the woman’s co­op­er­a­tive, Cho­cal, and as­sist­ing in the choco­late-mak­ing process. Next, a young girl re­counted go­ing to a lo­cal school with her fam­ily for a cul­tural im­mer­sion and English in­ter­ac­tions. An­other pas­sen­ger high­lighted the chance to com­plete a con­crete floor for a fam­ily. The lightly fa­cil­i­tated ses­sion of­fered a view into the suc­cess of the trans­for­ma­tive travel of­fered by the cruise brand and the very essence of the goal of Fathom when it first set sail in April 2016.


The in­au­gu­ral Fathom sailing to the Puerto Plata re­gion of the Do­mini­can Repub­lic be­gan a new mass- scale so­cial im­pact travel con­cept pre­pared to have an im­pact be­yond the cruise in­dus­try. Op­ti­mism and ex­cite­ment filled the cab­ins as Ado­nia (on loan from P& O Cruises) left Mi­ami bound for his­tory in the mak­ing.

Af­ter 25 sail­ings to the Do­mini­can Repub­lic, es­sen­tially ev­ery other week for a year (Fathom ro­tated Cuba sail­ings the other weeks), we can un­der­stand the im­pact be­yond one cruise and one pas­sen­ger, but fo­cus on the macro level. As Fathom evolves and pre­pares for its next phase, we can mea­sure the re­sults from its Im­pact Ex­cur­sions.

On each sailing, cruise- spe­cific as well as cu­mu­la­tive num­bers were up­dated and shared with pas­sen­gers who at­tended the fi­nal co­hort ses­sion. Let’s see what a year ac­com­plished.*

In sum­mary, nearly 20,000 Im­pact Ex­cur­sion tick­ets were dis­trib­uted to Fathom pas­sen­gers will­ing to give their va­ca­tion morn­ings or af­ter­noons ( and some­times both) to give, grow, and in­ter­act with the lo­cal com­mu­nity. Many gave mul­ti­ple days (three ex­cur­sions were in­cluded in the cruise) and some even re­turned for an­other cruise in its first year. Nearly 10 per­cent of book­ings came as re­peat cruis­ers. But the im­pact goes even deeper than num­bers and mea­sure­ments — as much joy was shared on the ship as on shore. In the re­peat Fathom travel gath­er­ing es­pe­cially, pas­sen­gers showed sad­ness re­al­iz­ing that th­ese sail­ings were sched­uled to cease op­er­a­tion in June 2017.


So, what’s next for Fathom? Un­cer­tainty ex­ists about a fu­ture of Fathom with­out a ship ( Ado­nia has since re­turned to P&O Cruises), but Fathom is now en­ter­ing its next phase. Tara Rus­sell, pres­i­dent of Fathom and global im­pact lead for Car­ni­val Cor­po­ra­tion ( Fathom’s par­ent com­pany), re­mains op­ti­mistic and de­ter­mined for a bright fu­ture, and she shared thoughts on the new di­rec­tion mov­ing for­ward.

“We al­ways in­tended to serve our much broader cor­po­rate au­di­ence of 12 mil­lion trav­el­ers,” said Rus­sell. “The pop­u­lar­ity of the Fathom ex­pe­ri­ence with trav­el­ers who sailed with us in­spired us to move quickly to ex­pand the Fathom con­cept — on board, on shore, and in new and cre­ative ways to serve an even greater au­di­ence. Go­ing for­ward, Fathom Travel ex­pe­ri­ences will live aboard count­less other ships op­er­ated by our nine sis­ter brands and of­fer be­yond im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ences in many ge­ogra­phies.”

Cur­rently, cruise pas­sen­gers sailing to Am­ber Cove on six ad­di­tional Car­ni­val Cor­po­ra­tion brands (AIDA Cruises, Car­ni­val Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, Hol­land Amer­ica Line, Princess Cruises, and P&O Cruises UK) can par­tic­i­pate in a so­cial-im­pact ex­cur­sion that con­tin­ues the Fathom mis­sion.

“Each of th­ese brands will be co­or­di­nat­ing with Tara and her team to of­fer guests Fathom ex­pe­ri­ences on board and in the Do­mini­can Repub­lic,” said Roger Frizzell, Car­ni­val Cor­po­ra­tion’s SVP of Cor­po­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Chief Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Of­fi­cer. “We are look­ing to ex­pand this to other mar­kets as well.”

Fathom can mea­sure its suc­cess by the num­bers, but it can also look to the trans­for­ma­tion of in­di­vid­ual lives of lo­cals as well as its pas­sen­gers. And while some may say it didn’t work, don’t tell that to the fam­i­lies with their first con­crete floor, to the fam­i­lies with new ac­cess to clean drink­ing wa­ter, to the fam­i­lies who can now con­verse in English and bet­ter their po­si­tion and em­ploy­ment, or to the pas­sen­gers who left changed af­ter they rolled up their sleeves on shore in the Do­mini­can Repub­lic.

Fathom was much more than ex­cur­sions. Many sea day ac­tiv­i­ties were de­signed to chal­lenge and trans­form the in­di­vid­ual. Th­ese ses­sions of­fered fur­ther ways for peo­ple to dis­cover not just the cul­tures and coun­tries vis­ited, but also them­selves. The ac­tiv­i­ties al­lowed them to be curious, to share their sto­ries, to un­der­stand the wheel of life, and more. Much more.

* All Fathom Travel Im­pact Ex­cur­sions to­tals are as of April 16, 2017. Sail­ings con­tin­ued un­til June 2017.

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