A First Look at Fathom’s Impact Travel | Cruise News – Sept. 3, 2015

A First Look at Fathom’s Impact Travel

Cruise News – Sept. 3, 2015

“Who wouldn’t want to sell love?” said Jason Maltais, the East Coast senior sales leader for Fathom, the brand-new cruise brand set to offer travelers the opportunity to impact the communities they visit in the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

During a media trip in the Dominican Republic this week, which showcased a sample of the on-ground activities that await Fathom travelers, Maltais’ sentiment was echoed among the entire Fathom team, stemming from the mission of the company’s president, Tara Russell.

Dominican Republic hillside JO photo“The experience is for those who want to travel, make a difference, and have a great time,” said Russell, emphasizing the importance of truly engaging the community, which she says will result in more sustainable change.

Beginning in April 2016, the 7-day cruise from Miami aboard P&O Cruises’ 710-passenger Adonia will transport travelers to Puerto Plata (docking at Carnival Corporation’s brand-new Amber Cove cruise port), where they’ll spend several days on shore immersed in the community to provide a variety of needs.

Fathom travelers will select from three types of on-ground impact activities:

Chocal: Time spent at the local Chocal chocolate factory, which is run by a small group of local Dominican women, will include preparing soil, cleaning and separating seeds, learning how to make chocolate, and essentially increasing production and creating more jobs in the long term. Russell and her team are also working to bring the chocolate products, as well as other local products, to sell aboard Adonia as well as in the marketplace at Amber Cove (which would be for sale to all visiting cruise passengers).Dominican Republic schoolchildren JO photo

Youth Empowerment Through English: Travel to a hillside grade school where you’ll spend time teaching English to young students who are eager to learn. Through one-on-one interaction, you’ll use song, lessons, and conversation to help build the fundamental skills that the children need to further develop their education and skills necessary to finding a job down the road.

Wine to Water: This 2-day program allows participants to create ceramic water filtration systems to be distributed to those in the community who are without access to clean water. Dominican Republic water filter JOphotoOn the first day, participants will help source, mix, press, and fire the clay; take part in quality control; and have the chance to make their own pieces of ceramic art. The second day will bring participants into the community to distribute the filter and teach how to care for it so that it can be used for years to come.

Russell notes that all on-ground impact activities will include a traditional Dominican lunch with locals, another way to further engage with the community.

Besides the Dominican Republic, Fathom also plans (pending approval from the Cuban government) to offer Cuba itineraries beginning in May 2016, although Russell noted that these on-ground activities will be more geared toward cultural exchanges due to People to People regulations for travel to Cuba.Dominican Republic JO in school CREDIT Anne Kalosh

For example, travelers will be have opportunities to engage with artist communities, small businesses, food producers, and music and film industries, although Russell adds that there will likely also be a service element. In addition, she confirmed the three locations in Cuba that Fathom will visit: Havana, Santiago de Cuba, and Cienfuegos.

“This is not the end game for Fathom, it’s just the beginning” said Russell. “We’re essentially building models, because there are the same challenges all over the world. We’re always looking at what’s next.”

Photos: Jodi Ornstein (4), Anne Kalosh

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