Fathom cruises going away, but brand remains for excursions

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Fathom's only ship, the Adonia, will be returned to the P&O Cruises fleet in June 2017.
Fathom's only ship, the Adonia, will be returned to the P&O Cruises fleet in June 2017. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst

Fathom, the one-ship cruise line created by Carnival Corp. in 2015 to offer social-impact cruises, will become a shoreside-only experience in mid-2017, a Carnival spokesman said.

The brand's only ship, the Adonia, will be returned to the P&O Cruises fleet in June 2017.

The company noted that the Fathom experience had been expanded recently to other brands calling at the Carnival-owned Amber Cove port on the north coast of the Dominican Republic.

Seven of Carnival Corp.'s 10 brands visit Amber Cove. Besides Fathom, they are Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises, Aida Cruises and P&O Cruises (UK). 

After starting cruises to the Dominican Republic in April 2016, Fathom in May became the first ship to take passengers on regularly scheduled cruises between the U.S and Cuba in more than 50 years.

Roger Frizzell, Carnival Corp.’s chief information officer, said, "We plan to continue sailing to Cuba for many years to come based on the success of our first cruises to the country, which have proven extremely successful."

With the Adonia returning to P&O, one option would be for Carnival Corp. to substitute a ship from one of its other brands, such as Carnival Cruise Line, as the designated carrier to Cuba.

Frizzell said Carnival Corp. has requested approval from Cuba to sail there with other brands, beginning in June 2017.

The Cuba cruises differ from Fathom's social-impact cruises to the Dominican Republic because they must conform to the "people-to-people" travel rules that govern American travel to Cuba. Although liberalized under the Obama administration, the rules still require tourism activities to fit into one of 12 categories that promote the exchange of experiences, such as educational, cultural or charitable activities.

Fathom was the first new brand created by Carnival Corp. since the 1990s that was not part of a joint venture with another company. Its social-impact mission, spearheaded by Fathom president Tara Russell and supported by Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald, was intended to capitalize on an interest in voluntourism.

However, demand for Fathom's Cuba cruises outstripped demand for the Dominican Republic sailings, as reflected in the prices. Weeklong Cuba cruises start at about $1,800 per person on Fathom, while cruises of equal length to the Dominican Republic have sold for as little as $199.

Frizzell said Carnival hopes to expand the Fathom experience to other markets in the future.

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