Travel Weekly cruise editor Tom Stieghorst is sailing on
the first cruise for Fathom, Carnival Corp.'s new social-impact line.
ABOARD THE ADONIA — Fathom’s cruise to the Dominican
Republic begins with a day-and-a-half at sea, and the activities onboard really
set it apart from any other cruise I’ve been on.
Fathom has a philosophy to impart. After breakfast,
everyone was asked to attend the "Being a Fathom Traveler" workshop,
where an "impact guide" briefed passengers on the Fathom way.
Like all the sessions I would attend on our first day at
sea, it was participatory, interpersonal and a bit confessional. This is not a cruise for someone who wants to
be left alone.
To organize, Fathom grouped passengers into cohorts of
about 10 to 12. The guide asked us each to name a favorite travel destination.
Then we were all asked to sit next to someone we don’t know.
Paired off with a stranger, we had five minutes to
describe to each other something bold we had done, an interesting fact about
ourselves, and what we think the key to happiness is.
Our guide, Jeff, then told us about himself and what
Fathom is – transformation through travel.
If Fathom has a motto, it is “Life begins at the end of your comfort
We were introduced to some of the buzzwords that Fathom
employs, such as "alongsidedness," which describes how Fathom
passengers and Dominicans work together on the land part of the trip.
Fathom is a cruise with substance, a chance to take stock of who you are and where you’re going.
Some of the workshops are more practical. One teaches phrases in Spanish and another
called “Empowering English Tutoring” is for passengers who will spend time
helping Spanish-speaking students at school.
Later in the day, I attended “The Story of You,” a
workshop meant to strengthen storytelling skills. We paired off again and did
five exercises. The first one, creating a secret handshake together, was fun
and helped break the ice. We told each other a story about our names and then
spent the better part of an hour crafting a story about a dramatic moment in
We told the story three times to three different people,
each time getting some techniques from our impact guide, Gil, to make the
stories stronger, more vivid and memorable.
I caught part of another workshop, “The Curiosity
Advantage,” about looking at things differently and staying open to fresh ways
of doing things.
Impact guide Greg Shapiro with a slide showing the progress of a land-mine removal enterprise in Angola. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst
My final workshop for the day, “Social Innovation in
Action,” was another group exercise. Four groups competed to create a social
enterprise that would solve a big problem — overfishing and clearing land mines
were the two we worked on.
Afterward, we saw videos of actual solutions created by social
entrepreneurs, including the ingenious application of mine-sniffing rats in
Angola to speed the de-mining process.
If this is your thing, there’s probably no better cruise
than Fathom. It requires an open attitude and a willingness to contribute. The
return is learning something about yourself and a jump-start toward knowing
your fellow passengers.
Fathom is a cruise with substance, a chance to take stock
of who you are and where you’re going. It might not be the cruise you want to
do every time, but it won’t be the same old, same old, that’s for sure.