At a press event attend by Travel Agent, Carnival Corporation announced the addition of a 10th brand, fathom. Spelled with a lowercase “f,” fathom will allow passengers to create “social impact” through travel and volunteer work. Beginning in April 2016, fathom will begin sailing from Miami to the Dominican Republic aboard the MV Adonia.
Passengers will spend their time in Puerto Plata (the partner community with fathom). Passengers will create “social impact” through volunteer activities in the local community. Volunteers will teach local school children to read, help chocolate farmers grow and make chocolate, build water filters and more.
“There are a lot of people who would like to do something helpful, but there is no structure -- this is systematic (volunteerism),” says Arnold Donald, president and chief executive officer of Carnival Corporation & plc.
“You’re going to do real work, but you are going to have real fun,” continues Arnold. He added that guests would still have time for activities like going to the beach and relaxing.
The new brand will be helmed by Tara Russell, the founder and chairman of Create Common Good, a food production social enterprise. She will serve as fathom’s president and as the global impact lead for Carnival Corporation.
“People want to have meaningful travel opportunities, that they can take, that have a lasting contribution on the world,” says Russell.
The Dominican Republic was chosen as the partner country because of the genuine need for volunteer help, the presence of strong local partners and support, the proximity to Miami and Amber Cove (the new Dominican Republic destination being launched by Carnival Corporation in October 2015) and the county’s natural beauty.
fathom hopes to attract Millennial travelers, multigenerational groups, and older travelers who want to do more than just donate to a cause.
The new brand is already creating a lot of buzz within the travel indusrty.
John Lovell, president, Travel Leaders Franchise Group, Leisure Group and Vacation.com, described fathom as “a truly compelling initiative.” He stressed that many of his agents are seeking meaningful and compelling ways to make a positive impact whether at home or away, and that clients also desire travel-related opportunities where they can make a difference. “Fathom certainly speaks to the altruistic individual, agent and client alike,” continued Lovell.
Michelle Fee, CEO and co-founder of Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative, described the pairing of travel and social impact travel experiences as “a brilliant idea.” She pointed out that Carnival Corporation already has diverse offerings for travelers and this simply continues that, further diversifying the product line and helping to attract first-time cruisers.
“Those new to the cruise market will find an upscale mission trip of sorts, which will be appealing to Millennials and socially conscious families and give them a new way to experience cruising and see the world,” Fee emphasized.
Jackie Friedman, president of Nexion, also applauded the announcement: “Providing travelers with meaningful opportunities to give and make a difference for others while embarking on memorable vacation experiences is a creative masterstroke.”
“We applaud Carnival for taking this courageous step and we look forward to learning more about this endeavor," said Jeff Sherota, senior vice president of house brands, World Travel Holdings.
From another perspective, Ralph Santisteban, franchise owner, CruiseOne, Miami, FL, offered his thoughts: "Kudos to Carnival for their efforts in using their business to make positive changes in the world which we live. Now it will be up to caring and compassionate individuals willing to donate their money and time to make this new venture a success.”
Scott Koepf, senior vice president of sales, Avoya Travel, says that having any new products and travel experiences to offer customers is positive: "Carnival Corporation is tapping into a growing market with their fathom brand and we hope that they continue to recognize the value that travel agent partners will bring in selling this purpose-driven travel experience to future guests."
The new fathom trips will host up to 700 passengers, with a seven-day itinerary and a starting price of $1,540 per person. Travelers can start creating their trip in fall 2015.