P&O Cruises’ smallest ship Adonia (pictured) is being transferred to a new ‘social impact’ cruise brand being established by parent company Carnival Corporation.
The 710-passenger vessel will operate under the ‘Fathom’ brand, running weekly departures from Miami to the Dominican Republic where passengers will work with local communities on a range of projects for up to three days per cruise.
Cruise-only prices for the seven-day trips start at $1,540 per person, including three onshore social impact activities in the Puerto Plata region.
These can range from helping cultivate cacao plants and organic fertiliser at a local women’s co-operative in producing artisan chocolates, to working with local schools to help teach English and building water filters for islanders.
Fathom sailings are due to start in April 2016 with reservations opening this month. The cruises will be available to book through the UK trade with 15% commission for reservations made until September 4.
Agents can register online via fathom.org and confirmations will be converted onto the Polar Online reservations platform by October. A Founder’s Circle membership scheme is being created for agents who make at least one booking in the first 90 days, with further details to emerge in the autumn.
An unspecified portion of every cruise purchase price will go directly to partner organisations to cover on-the-ground activities in the Dominican Republic, according to Carnival Corporation. Other destinations will be added after the launch phase.
The initiative is being targeted at people aged in their 20s and 30s “looking to make a difference in the world”, and those over 50.
But Fathom chiefs also believe more than half of passengers will be families, as parents “seek a way to open their children’s eyes to other parts of the world in a meaningful way”.
A growing market of potential ‘social impact’ travellers – approximately one million North Americans, in addition to global travellers already pursuing service-oriented travel experiences worldwide – have been identified as being interested in the concept.
The company believes Fathom will attract a “significant number” of new-to-cruise passengers. Almost 40% of those who will book a social impact trip on Fathom will have never been on a cruise before.
Sailings will start with one to two days at sea preparing for going ashore, including an orientation to the Dominican Republic, conversational Spanish lessons, impact activity training and creative workshops.
The onboard experience will be customised to include “purposeful retail options and amenities,” as well as geographically-inspired menus and music.
The ship will serve as a home base for travellers while it is docked at the new Amber Cove port being opened in the Dominican Republic by Carnival Corporation in October.
US social entrepreneur, Tara Russell, founder and chairman of food production social enterprise Create Common Good, is to run the new offshoot as president as well as global impact lead for Carnival Corporation.
Chief executive, Arnold Donald, said: “Fathom will cater to an underserved market of consumers who want to have a positive impact on people’s lives, and aren’t always sure where to begin.
“We believe travel is a meaningful way to allow for personal growth while making purposeful and engaging contributions in the world.
“We are so pleased that Fathom will give travellers a unique opportunity to work alongside local people as part of a larger scale effort that will demonstrably improve lives. Both our travellers and the local citizens will learn and benefit from the opportunity to serve together.”
Russell added: “We created Fathom to meet the real hunger in the world for purpose, while at the same time tackling profound social issues through a sustainable business model.
“We harness the assets and resources of the world’s largest travel and leisure company and combine them with the talents and hearts of those working in social enterprises around the world.
“Travellers will work in partnership with proven, trusted local organisations on the ground to amplify their missions for far greater, sustained impact.
“Because Fathom will bring hundreds of travellers to a destination on a regular basis, Fathom can achieve focused and holistic, collaborative contributions in a broad region of the country – allowing Fathom travellers to make a collective, transformative impact that they know will extend far beyond their involvement.
“They also will know they played an important role in ensuring the region flourishes.
“We are excited about making the Puerto Plata region of the Dominican Republic our first partner destination, and we are optimistic about taking all that is being built in and through Fathom to other global destinations and to the broader Carnival corporate family.”