We talk a lot here about how the world of cruise vacations can provide some of the best travel experiences imaginable. We know cruising is a wonderful value that brings lifetime quality memories allowing us to escape real life, check off a number of bucket list dreams and travel in comfort to just about any place in the world. Until now though, Cuba has been off limits to Americans with visits to the Caribbean island nation limited to students, journalists and social workers. Now, a new cruise line from Carnival Corporation is set to define an entirely different category of travel, one that gets us to Cuba, doing some good for others and perhaps ourselves along the way.
We have talked about Fathom and the concept of Impact Travel before, visiting the Dominican Republic last year for a preview of what is in store for those who sail with the new line starting this summer. Take all you know about cruise vacations and add one more element to it: travel with purpose. New Fathom brings travel that promises to transform not just our lives but the lives of others too. Frankly, if the reality of sailing with Fathom plays out in real life as it is planned on paper, the end result might very well top any other cruising experience available on the planet.
“Impact travel with Fathom provides the opportunity to build community with like-minded travelers, become immersed in another culture, and work alongside its people to create enduring social impact,” promises Fathom on its website, inviting friends, groups and families to join in. But what will they do, once there? First, let’s take a look at the ship that will take them there, sailing round-trip from Miami.
While the focus is on impact travel, making a difference and preparing those sailing with Fathom for the experience on the way, there are pools on board 704-passenger Adonia, as well as a gym, a games deck, a full-sized library and more. Still, beyond its built-in amenities, what matters most about tiny Adonia, formerly sailing with Carnival Corp’s P&O Cruises, is its size. 30-ton Adonia is small enough to let us get acquainted with fellow travelers who share Fathom’s commitment to meaningful transformation, the people we will be working alongside during our time on the ground.
One of the eight ‘R’ class ships built for Renaissance Cruises (first known as R Eight), Adonia is a twin to Azamara Club Cruises Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest and briefly served in the Princess Cruises fleet as Royal Princess before moving to the UK’s P&O cruises. Now charged with carrying impact cruise travelers to the Dominican Republic and Cuba, Adonia will take on a whole new life.
A comfortable ride for sure, cruise travelers who have sailed only larger ships might enjoy trying this one for that bonus reason too. Small ship cruising is an entirely different experience that is not for everyone but perfect for those who enjoy getting to know other passengers well. But what about daily life on a ship focused on impact travel?
Adonia will visit the historic ports of Havana, the country’s capital along with the historic towns of Cienfuegos, and Cuba’s second largest city, Santiago de Cuba. On the way, impact travelers will be prepared for the experience, a number of ways. Let’s take a look at the schedule of a sample day on the way to Cuba:
At leisure on board and breakfast
Pick from any or none at all. Yoga, Morning Meditation, workout in the gym, or enjoy coffee poolside. Enjoy a delicious full breakfast experience or lighter complement of fresh fruit, granola and healthy juices.
Attend design workshop “How to create and tell amazing stories”
Impact Travel experiences create lasting personal memories and inspire them to follow in suit. Learn techniques from design thinking and storytelling experts to effectively capture your story along the journey.
Lunch on the Conservatory’s outdoor deck
Enjoy a balanced menu that focuses on nourishing, sustainable, and when possible, locally sourced foods. Ideal to recharge and feel great all day long.
Enjoy the rejuvenating spa services
Make the time to take care of your mind and body with an invigorating massage.
Relax by the pool
Grab a mojito and relax by the pool before tonight’s interactive festival.
Immerse into Fathom Interactive Festival
Fathom Interactive Festival is an inspirational launch pad for creative cause area entrepreneurship, arts and culture. This interactive festival allows one to engage in panel discussions, interactive workshops, and design thinking showcases with leading social impact partners and entrepreneurs.
Head to Ocean Grill for a Cuban inspired dinner
Cuisine as a window into the culture of the Cuba. Ocean Grill features Cuban recipes prepared by Cuban chefs for a truly memorable regional food, beverage, and service experience.
Attend Keynote Event
Learn more about Fathom vision, cumulative impact from previous trips, and enjoy Cuban music and entertainment on deck.
On Site With Fathom Impact Travel
Ok, now we’re there, what’s next? This is where it starts to get really good.
Take a look at this sample day in Havana:
Gather and depart from the Adonia- Rise and shine as we sail into Havana. Enjoy breakfast on board and then prepare for a full day on shore.
Old City Walking Tour- Start your day with a walking tour of Old Havana where you’ll get acquainted with a town that has excitement around every corner. On today’s walk you will get to take a stroll down the Prado to the Capitol which is almost an exact replica of the one that stands in Washington D.C. Next it’s time to visit Old Havana’s four main squares; Plaza Vieja, San Francisco de Assisi Square, Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral Square.
Dine Like a Local- Enjoy a traditional Cuban lunch at a local restaurant.
A Walk in Hemingway’s Footsteps- After lunch head to the town of Cojimar where Hemingway used to spend his days. Begin at Las Terrazas Bar where you’ll have the chance to interact with some of the staff who will show you around and share pictures and stories of Hemingway and how he spent his days hanging out and fishing with the locals. Next walk down to the Marina where Hemingway kept his boat and interact with some local fishermen and musicians of the town. Hear about the little fishing village just across the water and how Hemingway came to be part of that close knit community. Enjoy some traditional Cuban music from local musicians while visiting the memorial dedicated to Hemingway.
Revolution Square and Classic Cars
Satisfying the cultural exchange requirement for visiting Cuba, we go to Revolution Square which is both a symbol of Cuba’s history and the place where it is still being made. Here, Castro has addressed millions of Cubans on many occasions. This afternoon also provides an opportunity to hop in a Classic American Car as you travel between activities. Interact with your local driver and learn how they keep these beauties up and running and looking like new. Round out the afternoon with a visit to the Colon Cemetery to view the myriad of magnificently sculpted mausoleums and chapels and learn the story behind the most visited tombstone in all of Cuba, that of Amelia Goyri de la Hoz – known to Cubans as “La Milagrosa” (The Miraculous Woman) before returning to the ship.
A Night in Havana
This evening take some time to explore on your own or sign up for an optional evening excursions. That’s the first day. Fathom’s Adonia overnights in Havana.
On the second day, a short trip from Havana will take us to Las Terrazas, a self-sustaining community in the forested hills of Sierra del Rosario. Over coffee at a small cafe, we will be welcomed by the owner’s family as we learn more about the role of coffee in Cuban culture. Back in Havana, meet with independent booksellers, pay a visit to a famed contemporary Cuban artist, and sit down with Cuban professionals and entrepreneurs for discussions on education, economics, the role of government, and how the Cuban economy has been changing in the post-Soviet era.
Sound interesting? There are still two more stops along the way before returning to Miami.
In Cienfuegos, we’ll take part in the morning’s lessons at a primary school, much like we sampled doing last summer in the Dominican Republic. We’ll visit the French Colonial architecture of Cienfuegos’ UNESCO World Heritage site. Enjoy a private choral performance by the world-renowned a capella Choir of Cienfuego and more.
In Santiago de Cuba, capital of the Spanish colony of Cuba from 1522 until 1589 and still the island’s most important city after Havana we’ll learn more, about modern-day Cuba and its influences on the world. Wrapping up the lifetime quality experience we’ll meet the local musicians that work to keep Cuba’s diverse and globally renowned musical traditions alive and vital, explore the ruins of French coffee plantations, tour a local distillery for a taste of genuine Cuban rum, and get a first-hand look at the production of the island’s arguably most famous export: the fabled Cuban cigar.
Sound interesting? It looks even better, as we see in this video.
Want to get a taste of it at a great rate? Right now, Fathom has a Buy One Get One deal that can’t be beat with prices starting at $628 per person for one of the Dominican Republic sailings. come along, they’ll be glad to see you.
Cover photo- Flickr user Christopher Michel