Passengers cruising with Fathom will participate in social-impact projects. // © 2015 Fathom
Feature image (above): Adonia // © 2015 Carnival Corporation & Plc
Carnival Corporation & Plc has announced the debut of Fathom, a new cruise brand that gives passengers an opportunity to make a difference in the world while on vacation. As a profitable venture that can support its ongoing mission, the company is designed to provide sustainable services to cruise regions, starting with the Dominican Republic’s Puerto Plata.
Beginning in April 2016, Fathom will operate the 710-passenger Adonia, a former Renaissance Cruises ship moved from the P&O Cruises fleet, on weeklong cruises from Miami. Passengers will be able to choose from an assortment of social-impact projects in partnership with established local organizations. Funds for expertise, supplies and personnel will come from a portion of the ticket revenue.
Nonprofit organizations are voicing their support and approval of Carnival Corporation’s new venture. One such entity is the Dominican Republic-based Instituto Dominicano de Desarrollo Integral (IDDI), whose mission is to help alleviate poverty in both rural and urban areas of the country.
“Fathom and Carnival Corporation are making a strategic bet on contributing to the development of the Dominican Republic by incorporating this initiative into their business plan, which is a remarkable step for a corporation of its size,” said David Luther, founder and executive director of IDDI. “This is not just corporate social responsibility, but a vision of bringing people together as a catalyst for change, whether they are passengers on a ship or members of low-income communities.”
Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald, who described Fathom as “market-driven” and an “efficient and sustainable way to deliver,” has tapped Tara Russell as president for the brand. She will also serve as global impact lead for Carnival Corporation, charged with identifying opportunities for other Carnival brands to give back.
Russell has 20 years of experience in business and social-impact programs worldwide and first created the idea of Fathom in 2013. She has since worked with a team to flush out the brand’s business model and build its overarching vision. Other newly appointed staff members include David Drier, vice president of fleet operations and sales, and Stephen Seabolt, president of marketing.
Fathom did substantial market research and pinpointed a primary market of approximately 1 million North Americans and an additional group of global travelers doing service-oriented travel. These individuals range in age from 20 to 60 and are mostly from North America, the U.K. and Australia.
The cruise line also intends to reach people who have never cruised and will prioritize the vast millennial market, a group vehement about social consciousness. In addition, the brand expects response from families who want their children to grow up with similar values, as well as adults ages 50 and older who want to provide hands-on help to others.
The first day or two of each cruise will prepare guests with relevant information, ranging from an orientation about the Dominican Republic and its culture to a lesson in basic conversational Spanish, along with local cuisine, films and music. On arrival, the ship will take advantage of Carnival Corporation’s $85 million port project in Amber Cove. While there, passengers will choose from social-impact projects addressing education, environment and economics.
Each project may last a few hours or up to several days. Options include assisting a women’s cooperative to make and market artisanal chocolate; building piping and filters to provide suitable drinking water; and teaching children to speak English. But it’s not all work and no play: Guests can also purchase shore excursions to beaches and attractions in the region.
The travel agent community has reacted very positively to Carnival Corporation’s announcement of Fathom. Michelle Fee, CEO and co-founder of Cruise Planners, called the idea “brilliant” and applauded the cruise company for giving agents a new opportunity to sell and market to consumers.
Russell summed it up: “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.”