Carnival Pioneers a New Direction

Carnival Corp. should be applauded for its bold experiment, Fathom By: Kenneth Shapiro
Shapiro // © 2015 TravelAge West
Shapiro // © 2015 TravelAge West

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We’ve written a lot about how travel is becoming more experiential and how this shift may affect the industry overall. This change in travelers’ desires is driven by a number of factors, including the adventurous nature of many boomers and millennials’ desire for authenticity and personalization.

In this issue, we report on the recently announced Fathom brand from Carnival Corporation & Plc (“Riding the Wave of Social Consciousness,” page 18), a new model for cruising that is yet another major step in the evolution of experiential travel.

As you will read in the story, Fathom combines many elements of experiential travel, including unique destinations, authentic experiences and local voluntourism.

“We created Fathom to meet the real hunger in the world for purpose, while at the same time tackling profound social issues through a sustainable business model,” said Tara Russell, the brand’s president.

The altruistic aspect of Fathom is not entirely new — Crystal Cruises has its “You Care. We Care” program where voluntourism-specific shore excursions are offered without a fee on many itineraries. What’s unique about Fathom, however, is the way this desire to give back to local causes is central to this lifestyle brand — volunteering is not merely an option on a few itineraries. As a result, Fathom aims to appeal to a certain type of consumer — one that has not traditionally gravitated to cruising.

Fathom has been characterized as a millennial cruise brand, and I certainly think that attracting the next generation of cruisers is one of its goals. Given that the cruise industry has been saddled with outdated negative consumer perceptions for many years now, this attempt to change its image and adapt to the desires of future travelers is sure to be watched by many executives from other companies waiting to implement their own plans.

And if Fathom gives travel agents one more opportunity to bring new consumers into the fold, then we’re all for this bold experiment.