James Morris - Jun 8, 2015
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Carnival Corp., parent company over subsidiaries Carnival, Holland America and Princess, is reshaping the cruise industry with its recently announced seven-night social impact cruise vacations. Slated for a 2016 debut, the new brand, named Fathom, will set sail to the Dominican Republic, where over two million residents do not have piped water, and other developing nations that will be announced in the future. 

Under Fathom is one ship, the Adonia, which is a 710-passenger liner that currently operates under P&O Cruises. According to Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp., Fathom is geared toward socially-conscious consumers who wish to positively impact the world and experience self-growth, but do not know where to place their efforts. 

Upon Fathom's launch, the Miami-based Adonia will set sail every other Sundays on a biweekly schedule and dock on Tuesdays in the Dominican Republic. Instead of the typical tourist activities, passengers may choose to volunteer during their three-day stay in ways such as creating water filtration systems, growing cacao plants and teaching English to students. During travel time to the Dominican Republic, on-board activities will include creative workshops, basic Spanish lessons, impact activity training and a Dominican Republic country orientation. 

Carnival Corp. states that although the Fathom brand's objective is similar to volunteer vacations offered by GlobeAware and other non-profit organizations, Fathom takes this concept to a larger scale. With more than 700 passengers arriving every other week, 18,000 people will rack up 55,000 volunteer days in the brand's first year, collectively. 

Tara Russell, operator of Fathom, says that in addition to the sheer volume of volunteer time, another distinctive feature of Fathom is its focus on the entire region instead of just one village. Although Adonia will dock in the Amber Cove port, which is located in the Dominican Republic's Puerto Plata region, all volunteer opportunities are reachable within two hours by vehicle from the port. 

In order to make a sustainable impact, Fathom will work with the Instituto Dominicano de Desarrollo, Inc. and Entrena, both of which are Dominican Republic-based non-profit organizations with a track record of helping the local community.

Market research by Carnival Corp. shows that about 1 million North Americans are interested in this type of cruise experience, and interest is especially growing among the 20-year-old to 60-year-old people. Carnival Corp. anticipates that Fathom will draw in all groups of people as well as those who are new to taking cruises. 

Russell states that Fathom's goal is to create a sustainable, for-profit business model in order to make a long-term commitment to the people of the Dominican Republic. To be financially-viable, 37,000 passengers per year are needed to fill the one ship in Fathom's line. 

A percentage of revenue from ticket sales will be given to the Instituto Dominicano de Desarrollo, Inc. and Entrena to fund on-the-ground expenses as well as the organizations' general mission. The fare for one person to travel in a double-occupancy room on week-long Dominican Republic social impact cruise is $1,540. The price includes on-ship meals, three on-ground volunteer activities, port fees and taxes. Other on-shore activities are not included in the price. 

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