On the Good Ship with Fathom: A Different #Kind of Cruise



When you travel and serve the greater good at the same time, you release a perfect endorphin storm in your brain, creating happiness and deep fulfillment.

Research states that new experiences have been scientifically proven to revitalize the mind, creating a healthier mental wellbeing. While giving back – in the form of volunteering or charitable donations – changes the chemistry in your brain that make you feel happier while evoking a greater sense of gratitude. Combine the two, and you’ll find out why it feels good to #TravelKindly.  


Launched in April, Fathom, Carnival Corporation's 10th and newest brand, is the first and only cruise designed to create a mindful vacation while also empowering travelers to create a profound and lasting impact in a country of great need: The Dominican Republic. 


Honored to be a guest of Fathom’s inaugural sail, I immersed myself into the experience and emerged a better person for doing so. Given the opportunity to volunteer, touch lives, forge new relationships, build community and contribute to a better quality of life to other human beings, we were able to define what it means to cruise with kindness.

“Purpose comes when we know we have done something that we believe matters -- to others, to society, and to ourselves.” -- Aaron Hurst, The Purpose Economy

While this Caribbean country brims with beauty, nearly 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. The average household income is less than $6,000 a year. Tourists flock to this island nation for its turquoise ocean and white sand beaches, but more than 3 million Dominicans do not have access to piped water.

Fathom has partnered up with deeply integrated community development partners, Entrena and IDDI, to understand the specific needs of the community and work alongside local residents to address them. 


Whether you’re passionate about helping local entrepreneurs stimulate economic opportunities, have a heart for children and education, or love nature and serving the environment, Fathom’s impact activities spark a mixture of curiosities as you explore the world and connect to culture.

To understand your role in creating a significant impact, it’s key to acknowledge the power of collective action over time. That is the meaning of sustainability. “You can’t swim from shore to shore – from problem to solution – with a single stroke,” says Fathom’s President, Tara Russell. “Thousands of strokes together cover the journey.” 

Student English Conversation & Learning

Why It Matters:   

On a national level, young Dominicans face serious obstacles to academic success. One of the skills most in demand by local employers is basic English. However, a shortage of trained English teachers and lack of academic support at home make a formalized English learning curriculum difficult to sustain.  

What You Can Do:

After a short training session, you’ll have the opportunity to work with both teachers and students on activities designed to create interest and excitement in the learning process and aid in language retention.

Impact Goal:

Fathom anticipates that, within five years, more than 2,200 of the students whose lives have been touched will have achieved working proficiency in English and will be prepared for jobs that can raise the income levels of their families. 

What I Learned:

Winding through the deeply rural dirt roads of The DR on a tour bus, Gemila, our impact guide, told us, “To help children to learn is more viable than anything you can give. Money will be spent, toys will break, but to teach them is for life.” 

There is an opportunity for travelers to share a simple skill, like teaching the English language, something we take for granted, to help bring others out of poverty. I felt simultaneously empowered and humbled by my ability to empower others. Kindness is magic.

"In that moment I learned I had been holding on to a gift I didn’t realize I had – the gift of teaching English. Gifts are meant to be shared."


Cacao and Women’s Chocolate Cooperative 

Why It Matters:

The poorest half of the Dominican Republic’s population receives less than one-fifth of the country’s annual GDP. But the economic opportunities are there. One local women’s cooperative is actively involved in the cultivation of organic chocolate (cacao) plants, an important income for the Puerto Plata region.

What You Can Do:

As a Fathom traveler, you can participate in the complete production cycle: from planting and cultivating the organic cacao trees, to preparing the raw materials, to producing and packaging the final product for sale. By helping to improve production and increase sales, you’ll be helping the organization to thrive so it can hire more local women, providing critical income in a region with limited employment opportunities. 

Impact Goal:

In five years, there is a potential to impact up to 1,000 households, helping residents to cover up to half of their monthly bills such as rent and groceries.

What I Learned:

It’s not on every vacation that I have an opportunity to engage in a meaningful activity that supports the local community. Sorting cacao beans with the women of the cooperative was a bonding experience. I’ll always remember the sense of togetherness that was fostered by working together. Our Fathom group wrapped 1,636 chocolate bars and cleaned 56 pounds of cacao nibs in one afternoon. The potential for great impact was clear. Did I mention the chocolate was to die for? 

Reforestation & Nursery:

Why It Matters?

There is a need to restore degraded land and contribute to forest and wildlife conservation in the Dominican Republic.

What You Can Do?

You can help transform communities by potting tree seedlings, transporting plants, and helping local Dominicans manage tree nurseries.

Impact Goal:

In one year, there is potential to plant up to 20 thousand trees.

What I Learned:

Planting seedlings connected me to nature and got me back to my roots, especially in a world where mobile phones and computers scream for all of my attention daily. Helping Mother Earth and the local community restore degraded land was an excellent way to leave the place I visited a little better than when I first arrived. 

And there’s more: SHORE EXURSIONS

Alongside of making an impact, there’s plenty of opportunity to have fun and explore the best of Puerta Plata. Check out Kind Traveler’s video for a glimpse into some of The DR’s best kept secrets including 27 Waterfalls and an escape to Playa Dorada Beach.

DR in 60 Seconds: Cruising Kindly with Fathom

Most important: new friendships. Making friends on a Fathom cruise are different than those you make other trips. When you’re surrounded by others who have a heart for making a difference, a common bond is created that will always be shared. Sharing stories over dinner about the lives you’ve changed that day – not to mention the lives that changed yours – makes for profound, soul-altering conversations that make a lasting impression.

Photo: From left to right, Justin Walters, Laura Lawson Visconti, Spencer Spellman, Rachel Rudwell, Vivienne Gucwa, Jessica Blotter and Sean Krejci.

More than one billion trips were taken last year. That’s 1 billion opportunities for travelers to become a force for good. Fathom makes it easy for travelers to create their own #Kind of impact. What kind of impact will you create?

You can learn more about Fathom by checking out its Kind Factors on Kind Traveler or by visiting Fathom.org

Photo Credit// Kind Traveler, Fathom

Jessica Blotter is a kindness curator that dreams of a world where people, animals, and the environment are treated with love. Follow her to discover where kindness can take you and insights on what it means to travel kindly.