Fathom cruisers making water filters in the Dominican Republic

Fathom cruisers making water filters in the Dominican Republic

(This post is sponsored by Fathom Cruise Lines)

By Eileen Ogintz

Sure cruises are meant to be fun in the sun. But you want something that will offer more than that to your family.

Welcome aboard Fathom, a different kind of cruise that combines one’s love of travel with the desire to make a difference in the world, and Carnival Corporation’s 10th and newest brand that will be sailing to the Dominican Republic and Cuba. Fathom is unique in that it leverages Carnival Corporation’s expertise and scale for a one-of-a-kind business model to create long-term collaboration with its partner countries and allows unique opportunities for travelers to interact directly with communities and gain deep insight into their everyday lives and rich culture and history.

“At Fathom we are creating purpose-driven impact experiences for our travelers that will make a lasting difference in the lives and the communities in the in the Dominican Republic,” said Tara Russell, president of Fathom and global impact lead for Carnival Corporation. “While at the same time, we want our travelers to know there also are many opportunities for them to explore, unwind and recharge during their free time.”

Cooking Dominican style on a Fathom Cruise

Cooking Dominican style on a Fathom Cruise

The Dominican Republic may be the most visited travel destination in the Caribbean, but 40% of the population lives below the poverty line, Fathom staff notes. This cruise line pledges that families (as long as the kids are eight or older) will have daily options for educational, environmental and economic development activities everything from lending a hand in building water filters for Dominican homes to helping a women’s cooperative produce artisan chocolates.

Once on board, you’ll have orientation for the projects to come as well as a chance to learn about the culture you are about to experience.

In the Dominican Republic, you may help pour concrete for new floors, paint houses, fix broken furniture, clean and improve community common areas, or plant fruit trees – all done alongside homeowners and other members of the community, including local children and teens. (What a great opportunity for your kids to practice their Spanish!)   Fathom travelers may assist another women’s association to create eco-friendly arts and crafts made of locally recycled paper, helping them to grow potential income sources.

Combining fun and volunteerism on a Fathom Cruise

Combining fun and volunteerism on a Fathom Cruise

Fathom expects many families on board as long as kids are eight and older. Along with opportunities to volunteer together, there will be more traditional opportunities ashore- going to the beach, snorkeling trips, beginner scuba diving, paddle boarding and even zip lining.

By educating, inspiring, and training passengers, Fathom says, they can assure local communities that visitors will deliver high quality, sustainable assistance.

Fathom cruises are priced like a cruise vacation but clearly offer a much different experience. They also hope to encourage your family to continue volunteering when you get home. Prices for the seven-day trips to the Dominican Republic start at $974 per person, excluding taxes, fees and port expenses and including all meals on the ship, onboard immersion experiences, onshore social impact activities and related supplies. Prices will vary by season.

What’s next after the DR? Fathom intends to sail to Cuba starting May 1, where seven-day itineraries will start at $1,800 per person, excluding Cuban visas, taxes, fees and port expenses and including all meals on the ship and lunch while in the three ports.

Before President Obama’s historic trip in late March, the White House eased major restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba and on Cuba’s use of U.S. dollars for international transactions.

Carnival Corporation recently announced that Cuba has granted approval for the company to begin travel to Cuba starting on May 1, 2016. Following U.S. authorization granted in July 2015, Carnival Corporation is now cleared to operate the 704-passenger MV Adonia to Cuba through its newest brand Fathom. This marks the first time in over 50 years a cruise ship is approved to sail from the United States to Cuba. During each sailing, Carnival Corporation through its Fathom brand initially will visit Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, three ports of call for which Carnival Corporation has obtained berthing approval.

Aboard Fathom, there will be onboard experiences designed to help you make the most of your time in Cuba. Fathom travelers will enjoy on-the-ground activities that provide unique opportunities to interact directly with Cuban people and gain deep insight into their everyday lives and rich culture and history. Think meeting with artists, musicians, business owners and families. You can visit an organic farm, share a meal at a home-based restaurant or visit historic sites both ancient and modern. Prices will vary by season. To reserve a spot on future sailings, travelers may call 855/932-8466 or work with a travel professional. Learn more at www.Fathom.org

If you are intrigued about the Dominican Republic impact activities, but want to start smaller, consider volunteering locally (ask at your local zoo or aquarium, for example).

Just giving up a day on vacation can have a big impact—for your family as well as those you want to help. Families tell me such experiences can be the most memorable of the entire trip..

Find a local organization that badly needs supplies you can bring in your duffel (just five pounds worth can make a big difference!) with Pack for A Purpose; Together for Good lists projects that need help for a day or half a day in the Caribbean and around the country.

Ready to make a difference?