By: Libby Brame, Travel Consultant
Looking for something out of the ordinary? Fathom is definitely the way to go! If you haven’t heard of this cruise line, you’re probably not alone. I was lucky enough to be introduced to this cruise line in their inaugural year, 2016. The Fathom brand is all about Impact + Travel. See the world. Make a positive impact on the local communities that you’re visiting. Carry memories that will last a lifetime, but let the waves wash away that minimal footprint.
For my cruise, I sailed out of Miami, and visited Amber Cove/Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. Although the weather was dreary, my spirits and anticipation were high.
The ship itself was a wonderful vessel, the sister ship to the Pacific Princess, of Princess Cruise Line. It was spotless, well-maintained, and easy to get around. Once you’re onboard, go through the muster drills and settle in! The crew make it clear that your cruise is going to be a very unique, special experience.
Passengers are divided up into cohorts, which is a group where you and your fellow travelers (not mandatory) get to discuss your upcoming adventure. What impact activities will you sign up for? What are your personal goals, and the goals for the community you’re going to visit? How are you going to record the impact that you’ve made on your journey?
This is all done throughout the days at sea that it takes to reach Amber Cove, Dominican Republic. You’ll get to learn which impact activities are available, what to expect, and the difference that you can make.
The focus isn’t entirely outward. There was also an activity called ‘The Story of You’, a workshop created by the Stanford Storytelling Lab. You get the opportunity to explore, identify, and share your own life experiences thus far, as well as your hopes and dreams for the future.
Once in the Dominican Republic, you’re off the ship with the options to do impact activities, shore excursions, or explore on your own. For the impact activities, they are based on availability, so I would recommend signing up for them well in advance of your cruise. On paper, it seems a lot like work, but once you’re in the community and helping others, it’ll be over before you know it, and you’ll be sad the time passed so quickly.
On my cruise, the following impact activities were available:
• Reforestation and Nursery
• Recycled Paper & Crafts Entrepreneurship
• Cacao & Women’s Chocolate Cooperative
• Community English Conversation & Learning
• Water Filter Production
• Concrete Floors in Community Homes
We take so much of this for granted every day. In Puerto Plata, once you’re out of the tourist-centric areas and away from the resorts, you see the devastation of poverty. For me, that made a huge impact. I knew I was lucky – I just didn’t know to such a massive extent. Do you worry about maybe retiling your floor? Redecorating your kitchen? Updating appliances? In Puerto Plata, there are many families who simply hope for a concrete floor. Windows. Potable water. Yet, despite the lack of some very basic domestic amenities, the people could not be friendlier or more grateful for the helping hands and hearts.
I signed up for the Recycled Paper & Crafts Entrepreneurship, which is a local cooperative for women who might not have any income or a safe place to work. Here they make paper stock from recycled materials and also produce crafts and jewelry from these products, as well as local seeds and beans. The time spent with these lovely ladies wasn’t nearly enough. I worked hard, but it was more like the feeling of putting together a big family meal with loved ones. The sense of community and acceptance is immediate and wonderful. After crafting for most of the day together, there were more than a few damp eyes when it was time to say our goodbyes.
Back aboard the MV Adonia, there’s plenty to do if that isn’t your cup of tea (though I do highly recommend trying out as many different activities as possible!). There are dance classes, scavenger hunts, trivia challenges, wine & painting, music, game shows, deck parties, ping-pong tournaments. There is plenty to do if you’re with a family, on your own, or with that special someone, and for any age. The food is terrific, and the staff is incredible. The views, too, aren’t bad at all.
The word ‘Fathom’ is also one of the old measurements, for the length of one’s arm span, when the arms are open wide, as for a hug. For me, this cruise, the ultimate impact travel experience embraced me with wide open arms. I was in no way prepared to fathom the way it would change my worldview.
Do something different. Make a difference. Travel deep.
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