The Deal Mommy

Fathom Dominican Republic Cruise: Here’s What I’m Looking For

Fathom Cruise Dominican Republic

Image via Fathom.org

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 Cruise Dominican Repulic

Image via Amber Cove

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.

The Deal Mommy is a proud member of the Saverocity network. 

Fathom Dominican Republic Cruise

 


7 thoughts on “Fathom Dominican Republic Cruise: Here’s What I’m Looking For

  1. Noway

    You will gag….you have exercises where you identify your “spirit animal”. You can create a wish box and be guided to find your inner real self. You will be nickeled and dimes to death for drinks, gratuities tee shirts, yada yada yada. There are some good volunteerism but some were “make work” projects.

    Kids like the activities initially then want to hang by the pool (at least tweens and early teens.

    I know people who went and this feedback is what I got from them. You could not pay me to go.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Thanks for your feedback. Good thing those actives are optional! I’d hate to learn my spirit animal is a dung beetle.

      I’ve been on enough cruises to expect to pay for (good) coffee, booze, and sodas. It’s more a matter of degree.

  2. Christina Cupples

    I went on this cruise and have a group organized for a Thanksgiving Gratitude Cruise. At no point did I find my “Spirit Animal”. I wasn’t nickeled and dimed for anything. You pay for your drinks. You pay for your gratuties. I don’t see how this is any different than any other cruise I’ve every7 been on. The cruise was, in short, fabulous. Amazing. The impact activities are working. Fathom has paired with two organizations based in the DR, and run and operated by people from the DR. They are doing this right.

    My 9 year old went with me and we made FB live videos during our journey. You can see them here: https://youtu.be/-jvvrQg9sRw?list=PLHhgXoipXFyIO_dsv0c0aThHYZ5zORBuz

    The first video is by Fathom. The second is one we made on the cruise in a vido booth provided by Fathom. The rest are FB live videos.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Hi Christina,
      Thanks so much for sharing. I’m especially grateful for the kids’ point of view.

      I think many of the complaints I’ve seen are from folks who have never cruised. The model is what it is.

    2. Noway

      I only cruise the luxury, all inclusive lines, so I am use to paying a premium for food, service and the luxury of having everything included, hence my nickel and dimed comment.

      I’m glad you and your family liked it Christine. My friends, very well traveled and veterans of many cruises thought it was too “new age”. I’m all for volunteerism and many of the luxury lines now offer opportunities for this. I just don’t like the whole zen stuff. Then again, people can sail on the same cruise and ha e totally different impressions. Glad yours was positive.

  3. MM

    I’m with Christina. I was on the June 5 sailing and it was one of the best things I ever did. Even if you dont want to do the warm and fuzzy stuff (which you should at least try…,) there is plenty else to do. Carnival’s multi million $$$$ Amber Cove is amazing, pools, ziplines, swim up bars, shopping, and the wifi is free to all – even on the ship. I didn’t feel nickel and dimed AT ALL – and that was my 27th cruise. Food and ship also very nice.

    Just got off the Cuba cruise (they made me an excellent offer while I was on the DR week,) – couldnt be more different than DR.

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