Fathom passengers tell their stories

The Adonia docked at Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic.
The Adonia docked at Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst

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,” Harrison said.

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.

Fathom coverage

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 project worked.

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 place.

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 New York.


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