I was invited to cruise for a purpose. Thanks, Fathom Travel for providing this impact + travel opportunity. As always, opinions are my own.
It turns out the second time was the charm when it came to a few blogger friends and I sailing on Fathom, Carnival Corporation’s newest ship. Yes, we were disappointed when our first scheduled cruise was suddenly canceled a month earlier but we rebooked as soon as the next sail became available. On May 8, Lora Wiley-Lennartz of Diary of a Mad HausFrau, Vicki Winters of The Vicki Winters Show , her husband Dan and I joined a group of almost 300 passengers to depart the Port of Miami on Fathom’s Adonia, heading to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. WHOOT!
Our cruise was the third sailing for Fathom. Just a week earlier, May 1, the intimate 700 passenger liner made global historical news as the first ship to sail from the United States to Cuba in 50 years. Fathom Travel, the brainchild of social entrepreneur Tara Vargas Russell, is a cruise vacation that offers more than just traditional cruising sun and fun. Instead, interested travelers have a chance to make a social impact at their destination. Fathom Travelers, sail to Cuba or the Dominican Republic and engage in a cultural exchange or some cases give back.
In the Dominican Republic, the goal is to give back and make a difference in the community’s economy or assist in their education. Once passengers book a cruise they can review the Fathom Travel Impact + Travel activities which include:
Reforestation & Nursery
Recycled Paper & Crafts Entrepreneurship
Cacao and Women’s Chocolate Cooperative
Community English Conversation and Learning
Student English and Conversation & Learning
Water Filter Production
Concrete Floors in Community Homes
I wanted leave my social impact footprint but also wanted time to relax. Since I didn’t know what to expect I registered for three activities, Cacao and Women’s Chocolate Cooperative, Student English and Conversation & Learning and Reforestation & Nursery. Now, I was ready to become a Fathom Traveler.
So, what’s being a Fathom Traveler? Well, for Vicki, it meant being sick to her stomach and confined to bed for the first day of the trip. The ship’s medical staff, on the lookout for possible cases of Norovirus, did not want to take any chances when Vicki told them she was nauseous had diarrhea and couldn’t get out of bed. Ms. Big Fat Mouth was tested and quarantined to her room for two days until the results were in. Only Vicki! (lol!) Read about her crappy sick days here.
For the rest of us, our days on the high seas were spent learning how to be good Fathom Travelers. We were divided into cohort groups, a Fathom family of sorts, to attend a variety of Impact + Travel Training sessions. The 45-60 minute sessions take place throughout the day and are a chance for passengers to meet fellow travelers, learn about the destination and impact activities. We learned how to work alongside and interact with the locals in sessions like “Spanish Phrases,” “Empowering English Tutoring,” and “Social Innovation In Action.” The leader of our group was the cute and knowledgeable Impact Guide Leader Gil Lang, a seasoned traveler with a history of social impact work. Speaking of work, even while on vacation,TV producers are always digging for information which meant Gil had his hands full answering Lora and my long list of questions.
By the time, the ship pulled into Amber Cove two and a half days later; we were ready to get to work. In the past, I have always enjoyed the Dominican Republic from the beach of an all-inclusive luxury resort. But this time, I saw another view of the isle. Puerto Plata, named by Christopher Columbus, means silver port. Mountainous and on the northern side of the island it was beautiful; reminded me of Jamaica. Turns out the Dominican Republic is the second largest island in the Caribbean (Cuba is one and Jamaica is three). Amber Cove, the 30-acre waterfront property docking station, built for Carnival was going to be our home for the next few days.
When we arrived and boarded our activity bus, the question remained for me; how much of a difference could we make in three days, spending only a few hours working? We would soon find out. Our first stop was the Reforestation & Nursery impact activity, our chance to make a difference in the rainforest-one tree at a time!
If you are interested in taking a Fathom cruise, they are offering a discount link. Click here and use the insider code 1530 to save on your next booking.
Coming Up: Fathom Travelers: Making An Impact One Activity At A Time
Emmy-nominated network television producer Deborah Mitchell is a veteran of ABC and CBS News, a member of the Producers Guild of America, and a board member of the James Beard Broadcast and Media Awards Committee. Through Deborah Mitchell Media Associates, she will create your online personality with a customized website, book you on the right television show, manage your social media profiles, and connect you with the best and brightest digital influencers. Deborah is a weekly contributor for Entrepreneur.com and author of So You Want To Be On TV. You can follow Deborah @SocialTVDeb and/or email SocialTVDeb@gmail.com.