When a company dons a cape and says it wants to save the world, a common response is an eye roll - especially if that company is Carnival Corp., a $16-billion-per-year cruising behemoth in an industry that’s under frequent fire for its negative environmental and social-impact.
Yet, making a positive difference is what Carnival says it intends to do with Fathom, a new cruise line that puts immersive social-impact travel, in the form of “voluntourism,” at the heart of its brand. Fathom, which is the brainchild of Tara Russell, the recently appointed president of this new brand and the global-impact lead for Carnival, will launch in April 2016. Its dedicated ship, the Adonia, will send passengers on multiday volunteer missions for local charities via trips to the Dominican Republic and - in a first for any American cruise line - Cuba, starting in May.
Though some cruise lines have offered volunteer work as part of their shore excursions, Fathom is alone in making it a centerpiece. The initiative could have huge influence, resulting in as much as 200,000 volunteer hours from 18,000 passengers in the Dominican Republic over the course of a single year, according to Russell. And Carnival hopes Fathom will do some good for its bottom line too. The company has worked to rebuild its image since the infamous “Poop Cruise” of 2013 (when an engine fire left one of its ships stranded at sea for days). Last