Allison Keyes at American Public Media Marketplace reported recently on an unusual kind of cruise line — one that is looking for passengers who want a little altruism along with their fun.
“Carnival Corporation’s new brand, Fathom Travel,” she writes, “is seeking to tap into a growing market with its social impact cruises to the Dominican Republic and cultural immersion cruises to Cuba. …
“Its Social Impact cruises are now regularly bringing visitors who want to help out on humanitarian projects to the Dominican Republic.
“In the village of El Cupey, in the mountains above Puerto Plata, Maria Vargas sits on her porch with her family and a neighbor. The 43-year-old and the others are learning to speak English from passengers on Fathom’s cruise. Through an interpreter, Vargas explains that the weekly classes are giving them a chance to improve their lives, and the opportunity to get out of poverty.
“ ‘I want (my) family … to get a new opportunity for a job with this,’ Vargas explained. ‘It has been a big benefit.’
“Along with the English classes, Fathom’s social impact cruises allow passengers to do everything from laying cement floors in homes and planting trees to combat deforestation, to building ceramic water filters in a nation where more than 3 million people don’t have access to safe, piped water.”
Says Josh Elliott, international program director at Wine to Water, which “has built and distributed 316 water filters with the help of Fathom passengers since the cruises began, ‘Fathom came to us with the idea and has really provided us with not only filters from volunteers working alongside us in the Dominican Republic, but it’s also given us an amazing platform … We’re inspiring people to give back when they go home and get off the ship.’ …
“But for Fathom to be successful,” cautions Keyes, “it must attract more passengers like Florida native Ken Maida, who said this is different from the 20 previous cruises he’s taken.
“ ‘This one is more for humanity,’ Maida said. ‘This one’s more about volunteerism and giving back to the community, to people who don’t have as much as we do.’ ”
If it sounds a little superficial, it at least helps travelers to see another side of life and think about longer-term service projects.