Bob Harrison and his wife, Betty, knew as soon as they
heard about it that they wanted to do a Fathom cruise.
Harrison, 64, who owns an engineering firm in Little
Rock, Ark., frequently uses his vacation to help people in overseas countries.
He’s been to Thailand with Journeys Within, which helps schools and a hospital
there, and to China with People to People International.
“The whole concept [of Fathom] appealed to me,”
Customers on Fathom’s inaugural cruise to the
Dominican Republic tended to have a pre-existing connection to some aspect of
the cruise that drew them to take a chance on the new concept.
For Liz Spaeth-Werner, it was a Fathom project to
distribute water purification filters to homes without clean water. Spaeth-Werner
had recently retired from a career as a drinking water engineer at the
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and was curious about how the Fathom
It took her a couple of months after she first read
about it to book the cruise. In addition to her interest in the water project,
Spaeth-Werner said she liked the small size of the ship and the fact that it
stayed at one port throughout the cruise rather than bounce from place to
A first-time cruiser, Spaeth-Werner, 61, considers
herself an independent traveler whose past vacations include the U.S. national
parks, Machu Picchu in Peru, and trips to Germany and Italy.
Spaeth-Werner said her main concern is whether she’ll
actually do any lasting good on the trip. “I’m curious whether I’ll feel like I
was truly helping, or just getting a chance to feel good,” she said.
Tim Kearney’s connection to Fathom came from past
trips with the Dove Fund, an organization of Vietnam veterans that does
volunteer work there. The group helps 15 Vietnamese schools and three medical
clinics with things like clean water, solar energy and micro-finance loans.
“We cruise a lot, so we wanted to do something
different,” said Kearney, who along with his wife, Pat, saw a USAToday online
article on Fathom. They booked within a week, he said.
Kearney, who lives in Port Clinton, Ohio, and is
retired from a firm that recycles halon and freon gases, said the cruise was
about what he expected. “The boat is very quiet and peaceful compared to bigger
ones we’ve been on,” he said.
Recent trips include Disney World with their three
children and a transatlantic Princess cruise from St. Petersburg, Russia, to