By now you absolutely know the story of my love affair with Fathom. But just a refresher:
I learned about Fathom and their social impact cruises, fell in love; went on one of their cruises, fell even more in love; dedicated myself to specializing in Fathom. And then boom: Fathom stops sailing. Perhaps they were a bit too ambitious, or perhaps marketing wasn’t that great, but at any rate my heart was broken.
But now Fathom has returned in partnership with Princess Cruises. As of this posting date, Fathom is currently on a cruise in the Caribbean and has two more scheduled for March 11 and May 26. So, if you’ve missed the first one of the year, you have two more opportunities.
And here’s why you should travel with them:
#1 The Impact
Cruising gets a bad name in the sustainability world for being environmentally-UNfriendly and turning ports (especially in the Caribbean) into Disney-fied areas that only benefit the cruise companies and not the locals. Fathom is the antithesis to that kind of cruising.
When they had their own boat it was more environmentally-friendly, especially because it was smaller. But now on Princess, they offer ways to offset your carbon emissions. And the shore excursions you participate in allow you to see (and help!) locals in a more authentic setting.
#2 The Guides
I do not have the skills to be “on” all the time. I suspect most of us don’t. But the Fathom Impact Guides somehow do. Not only are they really into the mission of Fathom both on the ship and off, they are extremely helpful, friendly, and sensitive.
It’s incredibly refreshing to see energetic people committed to such a fantastic cause every single day on the cruise!
#3 The Cruisers
Princess has very large ships. And the majority of the people on your cruise are not Fathom cruisers. But you won’t interact with them very much anyway. You’ll spend most of your time with other people interested in making a difference while they cruise. That’s not to say that you won’t get to spend time with your new friends just chilling by a pool or spending a night at the bar. You’ll just have the opportunity to bond with your new friends in deeper ways—like helping those in need. It’s amazing what volunteering can do for new (and old) friendships.
#4 The Ports
This reason is very short. Have you ever seen pictures of the Caribbean? It’s gorgeous! The views can do wonders for your ability to relax and improve your sense of well-being. Get a little practice being on Caribbean time.
#5 The Locals
Hello, it’s me, Very Awkward Woman.
When I went on my cruise, I was very excited to be able to help people, but I was not excited to meet them. I was nervous because a) I was a stranger in a strange land and b) I don’t speak Spanish very well at all. But what I learned from this cruise, and tutoring refugees in English now, it’s that language barriers don’t stop you from expressing the most important things: love, gratitude, concern, joy.
Yes, it may be awkward at first if you are working with locals whose language you don’t speak--in fact I guarantee it will be! But once the awkwardness fades you’ll find you have an incredible amount of things in common with them. Maybe you find you laugh at the same things, or like the same cup of coffee, or both appreciate a good sunset. You have more in common with people all across the world than you think.
#6 The Onboard Activities
I think one of Fathom’s strongest points is that it puts an immense amount of thought into the entire experience. Going to help people in Caribbean towns who have to put their lives back together after devastating hurricanes is great, but it’s too easy to forget about your experiences once you get back onto your floating city that boasts multiple pools, food 24/7, and nightly entertainment.
The onboard activities help you process and absorb your on-the-ground experiences, so that you (and your community) benefit even more from your experiences. But you’ll just have to go on your own Fathom cruise to find out how ;)
#7 The Onshore Activities
This is the heart of Fathom: helping those in need. And as I’ve said many, many times, one thing that drew me to Fathom was their partnership with local non-profits. Fathom did not come up with their shore excursions. Non-profits local to each island either had projects they were currently working on and needed volunteers or came up with projects that would help their locale specifically for Fathom.
What I also like about the excursions (and where you have to be extra careful when you choose to volunteer abroad) is that the activities don’t take jobs away from locals. When I worked at the Chocolate Co-op in the Dominican Republic with Fathom, our presence wasn’t taking away jobs from locals, our volunteer work was helping the women who owned the co-op to pay off their business loan more quickly.
#8 The Food
Cruise food can be pretty amazing, and Princess has a reputation for tasty meals! Getting someone to make your meals for you is always a perk. (But I also recommend thinking about your meals in relation to the destinations you just visited. It was always a bit jarring to sit down to dinner after working in the Dominican Republic experiencing regular blackouts and then having your dinner companions eat three entrees.)
#9 The Perks
Well, I’m only referring to one perk here really.
I love Fathom so much and I want you to experience their cruise that I am waiving my fee for anyone who books a Fathom cruise with me through the month of March! That’ll save you $130 right off the bat!
I can go on and on about how I love Fathom, what an impact it’s had on my life, yadda, yadda, yadda. But only you will know the awesomeness of traveling with Fathom once you do it. You’ll discover things about yourself and the world you didn’t even know were there. Fathom really is the most impactful cruise you will ever go on.
Now get out there and cruise (with Fathom)!