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!
- 1 Cruise for the Caribbean
- 2 The Fathom Mission
- 3 Social Impact Travel
- 4 Fathom Onshore Activities
- 5 Antigua: Freedom to Explore
- 6 St. Maarten: Beach Cleanup and Healing with Art
- 7 St. Thomas: Donation Drop Off and Community Engagement
- 8 Dominican Republic: Rebuilding Homes
- 9 Our Fathom Guides
- 10 Fathom Travelers
- 11 Making Deeper Human Connections
- 12 Like this post?
- 13 You Might Also Appreciate…
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.
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.
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.
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!
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This week we're sailing with @FathomTravel on their inaugural #CruisefortheCaribbean trip! We're taking to Antigua, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and the Dominican Republic to collaborate with locals in community-building activities and foster deeper human experiences ✨ ______________________________________ This post is sponsored by Fathom. #Ad ______________________________________ #TravelDeep #FathomTravel #FacesofFathom #FathomMoments
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.
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Just one of the many breathtaking moments we've had with @FathomTravel on their #CruisefortheCaribbean trip. From crystal clear Antigua waters to healing art therapy and a post-hurricane beach cleanup in St. Maarten, each step of the journey has been humbling and enriching. Can't wait to see what we'll find in St. Thomas tomorrow! ______________________________________ This post is sponsored by Fathom. #Ad ______________________________________ #TravelDeep #FathomTravel #FacesofFathom #FathomMoments
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! We’re not the only ones who love Antigua—find out why it’s included on this list of Caribbean islands to visit!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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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