Cruising With A Mission – Sailing the Fathom Adonia to the Dominican Republic
A socially meaningful and satisfying visit to the Caribbean aboard the Fathom Adonia
By Robert Hubbard
Recently I was intrigued to read about some new “social impact” Caribbean cruises being organized by Carnival Corp.’s Fathom line. The concept behind ‘social impact’ cruises is “voluntourism” – the combination of volunteering and tourism which offers consumers the opportunity to see part of the world by ship and to volunteer in a local community project. Voluntourism offers regular people the chance to build a community with like-minded travelers, become immersed in another culture and work alongside its local people to create an enduring social impact. Connecting with local people in communities gives passengers a unique perspective on the culture of the area, taking advantage of what happens when individual people from diverse cultures work together.
Fathom’s ship, the 704-passenger Adonia, alternates between week-long cruises from Port Miami to Cuba and the Dominican Republic. The Dominican itinerary emphasizes volunteer tourism while the Cuban one focuses on people-to-people exchanges.
Seeing an opportunity to combine pleasure with my goal of trying to make the world a better place, I recently took the Fathom cruise to the Dominican Republic in order to see how this form of travel could have a positive impact on other people’s lives.
The Dominican itinerary offers hands-on activities, with cruise-passengers working alongside Dominicans on sustainable projects that focus on education, the environment and economic development. Projects include installing home water filters or replacing dirt floors with more sanitary concrete ones. Other projects include helping a women’s cooperative create and package chocolate bars as well as teaching English to adults and children. All the on-ground social impact activities are already organized and operational. They are ‘turn-key’ operations; well run and organized for travelers to just pre-register and show up. In addition to the social-impact activities included in the cruise price, there are many other tours and activities available for a modest extra charge.
Once the Adonia reaches Puerto Plata on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, it remains alongside Amber Cove; an amazing port structure with bars, shops and restaurants. Amber Cove, which is not open to the public, includes a lovely large pool and zip lining, water sports, and cozy and personal cabanas. Fathom’s passengers use it as their base as they fan out into the neighboring region to participate in projects from Tuesday to Friday when the ship is in port. Passengers can do as many or as few of the social impact activities as they choose.
The Adonia has a swimming pool, spa and gym as well as excellent restaurants, bars and lounges. There is also a small but efficient running/walking track for those determined to exercise. Personally, I preferred to enjoy the chimichurri burgers that are served poolside during afternoon barbecues. However, travelers should be aware that there are no elaborate stage shows, casinos, or frills like ice-skating rinks or rock-climbing walls that are offered on more conventional cruise ships.