So I have a business trip coming up next week: Deal Girl and I are reviewing the Fathom Dominican Republic cruise experience. (I know, tough gig.). Fathom is an offshoot of Carnival, which also owns Princess, Cunard, and Holland America cruise lines. You may have seen Fathom Cruises in the news lately as they’re the first cruise line to dock in Cuba.
The single ship cruise line operates on a unique model: “impact travel”. Impact travel seems to be defined as “voluntourism, but not”. Fathom promises to offer a 7 night genuine cruise vacation experience while also offering passengers a chance to participate in community activities.
Fathom’s cruise experience is unique in many ways:
- The Fathom Adonia is a much smaller vessel than the mega-ships with only 704 passengers. While the boat does have pools and bars, it lacks a casino and Broadway type entertainment (on purpose).
- Instead of bingo, activities on board the Adonia range from Spanish lessons to guided relaxation and “life hack boot camp” (?).
- Only children 8 and over can cruise with Fathom. There are no dedicated kids’ activities, but kids seem welcome at most everything on board.
- Instead of a port a day, the Adonia sails to Amber Cove, a brand new port in the northern half of the Dominican Republic near Puerto Plata. Amber Cove has a dedicated pool/entertainment area that looks to rival many I’ve seen at resorts. The boat docks on Tuesday and stays till Friday.
- Impact activites range from teaching English to making chocolate bars to reforestation. Many are free and those that aren’t are $20 to cover the cost of materials. Standard shore exsurions are available as well.
While my cruise fare (and Deal Girl’s) were provided by Fathom I still paid port charges and airfare to get to Miami. To follow along on our cruise next week just check out Instagram and Twitter. If you’ve read The Deal Mommy for any length of time you know I won’t hold back my opinion- if I don’t like something I’ll tell you so. (Cough Beaches Cough)
Fathom Dominican Republic Cruise: Here’s What I’m Looking For
- Voluntourism gets a bad rap, and in some cases rightly so. I’ll be carefully looking at the impact activities to make sure they don’t turn poor people into feel-good props for guilty first world-ers. Signs are good so far: Fathom has outsourced the management of their in-country programs to two local non-profits with good reputations.
- Early in my career I had a manager who lived sunshine and rainbows. The experience made me gag- the straw that broke me was the “how does your inner child feel?” exercise. If Fathom gets too earthy-crunchy I just might have to jump overboard!
- How do kids feel about the activities onboard? About the impact activities? Are they engaged or bored stiff?
- Amber Cove looks beautiful- does it live up to the hype? How crowded does it get if another Carnival ship is in port?
- Are passengers nickel and dimed? On a cruise you expect to pay for tips, booze, and sodas- what else are you shelling out for? How are costs at Amber Cove?
- The traditional cruise stuff: cabin quality, dining, service. If the basics aren’t present no amount of Kumbaya will save your trip.
- Value. To be honest, the pricing looks fair, but I need to see to be sure. Does this feel like a $100+pp/day vacation?
Introductory pricing for a 7 night trip is $499/$599/$699/person for an inside/outside/balcony cabin (plus $208 in port charges and est $80 in tips). I was provided the code “INSIDER1506” for an extra $50-100 off sailings through 11/2016. Be sure to also check Priceline Cruises as I see last minute cruises for a jaw dropping $249 (+port charges & tips) up to a balcony cabin (!).
Have you been intrigued by the Fathom model? What else should I look for? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
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