How You Can Impact The World – And Yourself – By Taking A Vacation… Introducing Fathom, The World’s First Social Impact Travel Brand

A guy checks into a hotel and calls the front desk to request a wake-up call.

The next morning the phone rings: “This is your wake-up call… what are you doing with your life?”

Truth is, no matter your position or place in life – or mine – we all need that kind of “wake-up call” every once in a while.

We follow the same pattern every year. We work, what, 50 weeks a year? Then we take two weeks off to re-charge our batteries. We call it “vacation” because we literally aim to “vacate” – to do nothing but steal back for ourselves some of the precious personal time that we sacrificed to work throughout the previous year.

Well, here’s your wake-up call.

Instead of taking the typical vacation most people take every year, consider doing something different. Maybe it’s time for you to give back a little; to use your “vacation” time to make a difference in someone else’s life – and ultimately in your own life – through the newest trend in travel. It’s called “social impact travel.”


Social impact travel seeks to blend the relaxation time you desperately need in order to recharge and revitalize your own life with time that you can invest helping others who need your help every bit as desperately as you need a break from your 50-, or whatever-week routine.

Indeed, with the help of experts who can arrange and guide you through such an experience you really can engage in genuine service projects that make a difference in the lives of people who need help. And in doing that you just might discover how strong your perhaps previously unrecognized need to be helpful really is.

And you need not fly half way around the globe to engage in a social impact travel experience. Millions of people live in deep poverty only a few hours from the U.S. coast. The gap between the standard of living in the United States and the standard of living in places like the Dominican Republic or Cuba is shockingly wide. The annual per capita family income in such places is roughly equal to the salary that an American couple would earn during their two weeks of paid vacation.

So, when we at Carnival Corporation & plc. came to recognize and understand both the depth of the needs of people so close to our home country and the strong desire of so many Americans and others to use some of their vacation time to help, we determined to create a vehicle for the world’s best social impact travel experiences. We call it Fathom. It is our 10th global travel brand.

We asked Tara Russell, a talented business leader who has launched and built multiple non-profit organizations to be our corporation's Global Impact Lead and to build Fathom as its founding president.

We asked Tara Russell, a talented business leader who has launched and built multiple non-profit organizations to be our corporation’s Global Impact Lead and to build Fathom as its founding president.

Fathom is all about impact: not just you making an impact on others, but also having your own life significantly impacted in the process. We believe Fathom will address that deep yearning that people have to explore new dimensions of themselves by connecting more profoundly with the lives and stories of others. In fact, we refer to this process of self-discovery with a kind of short-hand: Learn – Immerse – Grow. As you learn about the struggles and needs of other people, and immerse yourself, even if only for a short time, in their lives and conditions, you will experience profound personal growth.

Fathom’s first sailing will be in April 2016 to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. Our second destination, just announced, will be Cuba. Though the details of our Cuba cultural immersion trips are not yet complete we expect to begin sailing there in May 2016.  Additional Fathom destinations in the Caribbean ring likely will be added later.

The journey starts by assembling 700 social impact travelers aboard the Adonia at the port of Miami.  As the Adonia sails south at 18 knots, passengers will get to know one another and to learn about the people they will be serving, helping and working side-by-side with in the days ahead.

The Adonia, a part of our P&O subsidiary's fleet, will carry Fathom guests on their social impact journeys

The Adonia, a part of our P&O subsidiary’s fleet, will carry Fathom guests on their social impact journeys

Upon arriving at the destination, Fathom travelers will enjoy the best of both worlds. During the day they will get hands-on, meaningful experience in genuine on-the-ground service projects. At night they will retreat to a comfortable floating, hotel for the kind of food, relaxation and rest that will revive their bodies and spirits and prepare them for another day of service and personal growth in the field.

To make sure your social impact experience is both meaningful and lasting, Fathom is partnering with respected non-government service agencies that have long, rich histories in providing assistance and training to impoverished residents in the places Fathom guests will visit. In the Dominican Republic we are partnering with three such organizations; Entrena, IDDI, and The DREAM Project. Working with such organizations assures that long after you return home, the great work that you were part of will continue through their persistent efforts and those of subsequent Fathom travelers who come to make an impact of their own.

When you book a social impact journey with Fathom plan to spend three or four days on the ground doing hands-on activities such as:

      • Providing clean water – more than three million Dominicans have no access to reliably clean, piped water. Fathom travelers can help in the production and distribution of more than 5,000 clay water filters that will mean fewer children and adults will miss school or work due to water-borne illnesses.
      • Growing things – Fathom guests can participate in something as simple and environmentally pleasing as planting tree seedlings as part of a local reforestation effort, or something more strenuous like the planting or cultivation of local farm and garden crops.
      • Teaching – Spending on education in the Dominican Republic is among the lowest in the world, so few children have the opportunity learn one of the most critical skills for future economic success: the use of basic English. But since most Fathom guests will be native English speakers, they’re already qualified to teach and tutor more than 2,200 students whose lives we expect to touch in the next five years.
      • Empowering women economically – Fathom guests can help a local women’s cooperative cultivate organic cacao plants for sale to chocolatiers, or another group of women to create marketable arts and crafts from recycled paper. In both cases, local women’s incomes and their ability to transact business in English – a critical skill in the Dominican – will be enhanced.

dominican ed1Fathom DR1dominican water filterdominican 2

Not every hour of the day during Fathom guests’ social impact experiences will be devoted to service projects. There’ll be plenty enough free time to sink your toes into the sand on some lush tropical beaches, or to explore the restaurants, bars and shops in wonderful, off-the-beaten-path places like the quiet port of Amber Cove, D.R. Or you can enjoy just wandering through the area, learning on your own about the culture and spending time with local residents.

Of course, after a week of using your hands, hearts and minds to make a difference in the lives of others, you may be tempted to discard the “work-rest-work” pattern of the week and just stay on the island and chill out. But something even better will await you on the final day of your trip. You’ll get to enjoy the pleasures and comfort of the Adonia on your day-long cruise back to Miami. And it’s during that return voyage that you’ll get the critically important opportunity to reflect on the people you met and the lives you touched. And you’ll get to do it along with other Adonia guests – some of whom may have become friends for life as you labored together for a cause greater than yourselves. And it’s here, back on the Adonia where you’ll perfect the stories you’ll share once you get back home.

So, here’s a wake up call that I challenge you to consider seriously: take a social impact trip. Then decide whether the greatest, longest-lasting impact of your trip was made on the people you helped, or on your own soul. My bet is that your answer will be “both.”

“Good day… this is your wake-up call.”

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