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Cruise for the Caribbean (with Purpose!): Social Impact Travel with Fathom Cruises

Onboard with Fathom cruises and their social impact travel initiative! We joined the Cruise for the Caribbean for meaningful travel with local communities.

Taking travelers into the heart of communities to connect with locals on a deeper level, Fathom Travel‘s Cruise for the Caribbean trip blew us away with experiences enriching for the eyes, the mind, and most importantly, the heart.

Our week-long journey with Fathom Travel took us to Antigua, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and the Dominican Republic, visiting and collaborating with communities devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Fathom travel experience brings together those seeking meaning in their journeys around the world, and allows these travelers to find that meaning by putting them into close and intimate interactions with local communities in need. We’ve shared stories, embraces, and bellies full of laughter with some very special people from each of these islands, with Fathom organizing everything from beach cleanups and art therapy in St. Maarten, donation drives and community outreach in St. Thomas, and home re-construction in the Dominican Republic!

Antigua from the sky on our Cruise for the Caribbean Carnival Fathom experience

 

Cruise for the Caribbean

With this January’s inaugural Cruise for the Caribbean, Fathom Travel starts the next step of the Carnival Fathom collaboration. Previously, Fathom cruises happened on a smaller ship, but now new Fathom impact cruises will occur inside larger cruise ships on any of Carnival’s 9 sister lines.

Offering a unique way to experience a cruise, the new Fathom experience allows travelers to enjoy the amenities and luxuries of a large cruise ship, while taking each destination as an opportunity to give back to the community. The special impact of the Carnival Fathom collaboration is that it takes a pre-existing cruise ship that would already be embarking on the Cruise for the Caribbean, and repurposes over a hundred spots on that cruise in the name of social impact travel. Fathom takes spots that would typically be filled with average vacationers seeking sun, sand, and sea, and fills them instead with volunteers rebuilding communities in the Caribbean! The funds from these cruise spots are thus also shifted into efforts that directly benefit these communities, and Fathom’s resulting accomplishments are profound.

Onboard with Fathom Cruises in the name of social impact travel throughout the Caribbean

The Fathom Mission

The mission of Fathom cruises? Social impact travel. That is, to establish meaningful connections with locals and other travelers, coming together to make a positive impact in local communities.

Fathom cruises bring the world closer together by allowing travelers to participate alongside locals in a shared vision. While onboard with Fathom, travelers have the option to take part in special seminars to get the most out of the social impact cruise. In special Fathom Travel gatherings, travelers get the chance to meet like-minded fellow travelers who will come together in Fathom cruise shore excursions. On the ground with Fathom Travel, you’ll be able to enjoy opportunities to meet and interact with the local communities in ways that actually improve their lives: much more than a simple buy-and-sell transaction.

St. Thomas donation drop as part of our Social Impact Cruise with Fathom travel

Social Impact Travel

The goal of Fathom cruises is to be much more than a typical cruise: it’s to inspire travelers to become a part of something bigger than themselves while also helping them explore in their own ways. By guiding people to have deep travel experiences, Fathom hopes to inspire cruisers to make meaningful connections with the world around them, and to carry this inspiration into all aspects of their lives, not just while on the Fathom cruise line.

Feeling joy with the Cruise for the Caribbean Fathom social impact cruise

The beauty of Fathom cruises is in capturing the hearts of those who would be going on a cruise anyway, and choose to shift the focus of the cruise in promotion of social impact travel. And the results? We were blown away by what the Fathom team as a whole was able to accomplish together! 

Our very own Fathom social impact travel cruise raised over $15,000 for over 200 families in St. Thomas, built homes entirely from the ground up and repaired a school building in the Dominican Republic, collected 1.5 tons of garbage from nesting areas of sea turtles in St. Maarten, planted 400 mahogany seedlings, assembled several tables and painted rooms, and donated thousands more dollars to the various organizations we collaborated with throughout the Caribbean. Now that’s a way to enjoy your Cruise for the Caribbean!

Fathom Onshore Activities

From crystal clear waters to community engagement and rebuilding efforts across the Caribbean, the Fathom onshore activities provide meaningful interactions with local communities directly affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria. Our Fathom social impact travel experience has been an emotional ride bringing us to the heart of these beautiful communities throughout the Caribbean. 

Antigua: Freedom to Explore

The island of Antigua, blessed with sparkling beaches at every turn, was the first stop on our Cruise for the Caribbean with Fathom Travel. Antigua was more fortunate than many of its Caribbean neighbors, and was spared widespread devastation by the 2017 hurricane season. With this in mind, Fathom travel had no onshore activities planned in Antigua, instead giving its travelers the chance to explore on their own and seek out what the island has to offer. For us, that meant riding local buses to a beautiful beach and then later to a local market to taste some delicious local fruit and snacks!

Beach cleanup in St Maarten as part of the Fathom impact cruise

St. Maarten: Beach Cleanup and Healing with Art

Next, our social impact cruise with Fathom visited the Dutch/French island of St. Maarten, where we joined Fathom travelers in being the first tourist group ever to join a St. Maarten Nature Foundation beach cleanup. Visiting the beautiful and wild Guana Bay Beach, which is a nesting habitat for three kinds of sea turtles, our Fathom team collected a shocking 1.5 tons of garbage from the beach.

Art Heals activity on the Fathom cruise ship


Please donate anything you can on the ART HEALS SXM Hurricane Relief gofundme page!


Our social impact travel on St. Maarten continued with a visit to the St. Maarten National Institute of Arts. The art institute implemented a free Art Heals program after the 2017 hurricanes to bring the community relief from the trauma wrought by Irma and Maria. Taking part in musical and bodily exercises, we got a unique perspective into how the art program provides the community with the tools to recover. Fathom also provides the institute with donations funded by cruisers’ ticket costs, ensuring that the positive influence will last long after our Fathom cruise ship departed St. Maarten.

 

Joy from Fathom cruise line in St. Thomas

St. Thomas: Donation Drop Off and Community Engagement

Fathom’s social impact travel in St. Thomas consisted of a pre-cruise donation drive for Fathom travelers for needy young families. These donations, totaling over $15,000, were then given out to over 200 local families at a dockside “baby shower,” definitely the largest baby shower we’ll ever attend! Visiting families were given baby and child products that they needed, as well as free health screenings. All of this was accompanied by a very talented local band and young dancers, which made for quite the party scene! Here, Fathom travelers could directly witness and enjoy the fruits of social impact travel as we vibed and played with the locals on this leg of our Cruise for the Caribbean with Fathom Travel.

 

We then visited the local branch of the Boys and Girls club, for whom Fathom had also collected donations. Our social impact travel experience with Fathom here meant getting to know some wonderful local children and young adults, as well as coming together in constructing activity tables for the club and painting parts of the facilities. We felt truly welcomed by the community, and it was a delight to get to know both the young members of the Club as well as the adults who care for them. Our Fathom impact cruise provided the opportunity to interact with locals in a setting that we wouldn’t encounter on our own, which is what Fathom cruises are all about.
Building tables as part of the Fathom Social Impact cruise in St. Thomas

Dominican Republic: Rebuilding Homes


Help Fathom raise money for rebuilding efforts in the Dominican Republic!


With dozens of previous sailings to the Dominican Republic, the Fathom cruises have a well-established network of different sites near the northern city of Puerto Plata where cruisers collaborate directly with the local community in various ways. Fathom cruisers have the opportunity to try paper recycling at the RePapel facility and chocolate making at the Chocal chocolate factory, as well as getting their hands (and feet) dirty with community rebuilding efforts in the hillside hamlet of Loma de la Bestia.

Hurricane relief with Fathom Travel Cruise for the Caribbean

For our Fathom travel experience in the Dominican Republic, we put our hands on deck with the rebuilding! Fathom’s social impact travel efforts raised over $11,500 to completely fund the building from the ground up of two homes for local families (in addition to repairing a school building and donating chainsaws). Helping lay cement floors at Loma de la Bestia, we felt firsthand the experience that Fathom creates in its travelers and the local community: a sense of unity, cooperation, and deeper human interaction that lasts much longer than a single social impact cruise.

Rebuilding homes in Dominican Republic with Fathom Cruises

The family whose home we built in the Dominican Republic

Our Fathom Guides

None of this would be possible without the immaculate attention to detail, organization and care put in by the Fathom Cruise for the Caribbean team! With their vibrant, warm, and community-oriented personalities, the guides on our Fathom cruise ship led the way for the best kind of social impact travel experience. Our guides Katie, Paige, Colin, Ambra, and Sophia went above and beyond to create a meaningful, unique, and smooth-sailing (pun intended) experience for everyone on Fathom cruises. They are all committed to making Fathom cruises the best that any Cruise for the Caribbean could be!

Making deeper human connections with Fathom travel

Fathom Travelers

Fathom Cruises for the Caribbean attract a certain type of traveler: passionate, curious, and adventurous, with a shared desire to make the world a better place. They’re not the kind of people who are content to hop off a cruise ship and plop down on a beach (at least not every vacation!); instead, they care deeply about traveling in meaningful ways. With a diverse group ranging from past Peace Corps volunteers from India and Nepal, to those who brought their own extra donations to give, Fathom cruises bring together like-minded people who want to better the world.

Our Cruise for the Caribbean had many members who had gone on previous Fathom cruises, some even as many as six! That speaks to the commitment of Fathom travelers for striving for a better world. And what about solo travel? Turns out Fathom cruises are perfect for solo travelers! We learned that many travelers joining on Fathom cruises decide to join solo and meet new people along the way. Don’t forget to check out the many benefits of solo travel!

 

 

Making Deeper Human Connections

As one fellow Fathom traveler so eloquently expressed it, the Fathom experience offers a “myriad of stories coming together under one narrative.” The stories and personalities of the people we met along the way in each island on our Cruise for the Caribbean, as well as the committed and impassioned Fathom travelers who accompanied us, made this narrative a special one.

Working with children on Fathom Cruises

There are stories in every face you look. In the Dominican Republic, there was 17-year-old Abigail, who kindly showed us around her home and shyly shared that she could speak 4 languages. We shared special moments with Abigail, who gleefully led us to a framed picture of her family on the wall, gently lifting it down to tell us about each family member. We built a home for a family with five children, and enjoyed every minute of interaction and collaboration with the family and all of their neighbors. The sense of community we felt as each member of the neighborhood stopped by to contribute a hand, faces beaming with joy each step along the way, was unlike any travel experience we’ve been privy to thus far. Other Fathom travelers even had the chance to build a house for a vivacious and remarkable 103-year-old musician.

Meeting Jayden on the Fathom cruise ship, a very special social impact travel experience

In St. Thomas, we were touched and intrigued getting to know 14-year-old A’kaijah, who had quite the unique passion for farming. In St. Thomas we were struck by the friendliness and gratefulness of the children, from rascally little Jayden to the loving embrace of a quiet girl who found immediate solace in the arms of a fellow Fathom traveler. And in St. Maarten, the incredibly talented musicians we met, as well as the staff of the Art Institute, inspired everyone with their dedication and their humanity.

Social Impact Travel beach cleanup in St Maarten

Fathom and its social impact travel ethos is a heartwarming indicator that, as readily as disaster may strike, people who are thoughtful and caring will always come together to shed love and light on those who need it most. As one particularly vivacious Fathom traveler said, “we have to enjoy every page in this book of life.” Making each second count, Fathom cruises are all about living life to the fullest, and making travel experiences as fulfilling as they possibly can be. If you decide to travel with Fathom and take your own Cruise for the Caribbean, you’ll visit new places and meet people in special ways that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. It’s an enriching experience—one of joy, love, and warmth that will forever be etched into us. We will always think fondly of our Fathom impact cruise experience, and recommend it to anyone who wants a taste of social impact travel! 


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Fathom and Her Campus Media. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Television of Nomads possible!


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 Onboard with Fathom cruises and their social impact travel initiative! We joined the Cruise for the Caribbean for meaningful travel with local communities.  Onboard with Fathom cruises and their social impact travel initiative! We joined the Cruise for the Caribbean for meaningful travel with local communities.
 Onboard with Fathom cruises and their social impact travel initiative! We joined the Cruise for the Caribbean for meaningful travel with local communities.

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Lori
    January 31, 2018 at 10:52 am

    This is a very noble and much needed endeavor. Just curious so as not to be confused. I thought Fathom Cruise Line had stopped operating. We had heard that they were now only running “excursions”. Is that what this is? If so, an excellent cause. We’d be interested in hearing more. Thanks.

    • Reply
      Lauren West
      January 31, 2018 at 1:47 pm

      While Fathom once had its own boat named the Adonia, it now operates as part of pre-existing Carnival cruise ships. That way, you still get the cruise experience, with all its amenities, activities, and scrumptious food, while still being able to offer your time at each port stop!

      It’s definitely a different experience, but I actually love that this new stage of Fathom takes pre-existing cruise spots and funnels that money and humanpower into good causes instead!

  • Reply
    Heidi
    January 31, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    I love this idea. Cruise ships do so much damage it’s nice to see an approach that can help give back and offer a much deeper experience to the traveler as well. Would you say this type of cruise would be good for any age group or was it more targeted for young people? You have some amazing photos as well!

    • Reply
      Lauren West
      January 31, 2018 at 1:43 pm

      Definitely all ages! The age of Fathom travelers ranged anywhere from 20s to 70s!

      • Reply
        Richard Smith
        January 31, 2018 at 6:37 pm

        Lauren, one of the Fathom travelers, with whom I became friends, was Ricardo. He is 82 years old and in his youth was an Acapulco cliff diver. By the way, I think you and Ben have a great travel blog.

  • Reply
    Lillie
    January 31, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    I’m moved to know that Fathom is continuing its good work by helping the hurricane-battered parts of the Caribbean, and it’s wonderful that you were able to go along. I’m particularly intrigued by the Art Heals program in St. Maarten. What a unique, beautiful, and powerful way to help the community!

  • Reply
    Raghav
    January 31, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    This is definitely the best of both worlds. Not only you are doing a noble job of helping others but linking it to travel as well. While volunteer travel is nothing new, the chance to link it with a cruise is something unique and so apt for the Caribbean region. Keep it up and thanks for the information.

  • Reply
    Darlene
    January 31, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    Wow! I haven’t heard of Fathom Cruises before. I love that they are promoting traveling with a purpose. Traveling is a privilege and it is only right that we do what we can for the local community we are visiting. I like that Fathom Cruise is perfect for solo travelers too like me! Hope to try this soon!

  • Reply
    Punita Malhotra
    February 2, 2018 at 5:08 am

    Wow…this raised $15,000 for over 200 families in St. Thomas, apart from building homes and repairing a school building amongst other things! That is true social impact! And your pictures are stunning.

  • Reply
    Mimi and Mitch
    February 2, 2018 at 6:29 am

    These types of holidays help you relate to the local community and have a much greater understanding if what they are going through. Fathom have worked out a way for people to enjoy a holiday but still also improving people in needs lives. Hats off to you guys for spending your holidays helping out other people in need, that island trip looks epic.

  • Reply
    Catherine Sweeney
    February 2, 2018 at 7:35 am

    I’m so happy to learn more about Fathom Cruises and their mission — Social Impact Travel. It’s fantastic and I congratulate you on being part of it. Loved reading about your experiences and the projects undertaken in the islands — all done with heart!

  • Reply
    Amanda Kendle
    February 3, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    Wow, this sounds great! I’m not a cruise person in general but this is the kind of cruise I could get behind, I hope to see more and more of this kind of trip happening in the future! To an Aussie like me, also, the Caribbean is a complete mystery so this is a way I would be really keen to explore it.

  • Reply
    Nisha
    February 9, 2018 at 4:53 am

    The Carribeans Cruise is something that I have had in my list for a long time. It is interesting to learn that Peace Corp volunteers from India and Nepal participated in Fathom Travelers campaign. I would surely like to be part of some of these volunteering activities.

  • Reply
    Medha Verma
    February 11, 2018 at 5:20 am

    It’s actually very impressive, what they’re doing. To sail on the existing cruises to the Caribbeans and do it with a social cause, carry volunteers to the places needing help. I am not very proud of the fact that I have never done any volunteering work while I have travelled but something like this might be the perfect place for me to start!

  • Reply
    Sanne - Spend Life Traveling
    February 12, 2018 at 2:45 am

    Wow this is such a great initiative! I lived in St Maarten and the damage the hurricane did there and how it impacted the lives of many of my friends is intense… Thanks for sharing this and helping the Caribbean!

  • Reply
    Tione
    March 6, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    Wow! I live on Sint Maarten… Thanks for visiting and helping out after Hurricane Irma

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