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by Matt Alderton | June 08, 2015
When travelers go on cruises, they're certain to make memories. Something else they make, however, is impact -- on the environment and people in the port cities that host them. To make sure that impact is positive, Carnival Corp. has launched a new brand, called Fathom, and created a new travel category that it calls "social impact travel," it announced yesterday.

Embarking on its first cruise in April 2016, from Miami to the Dominican Republic, Fathom will offer travelers the chance to work alongside locals on projects of import to their community. In the Dominican Republic, for instance, passengers will work with partner organizations focused on alleviating poverty and increasing education for Dominicans.

"Fathom will cater to a growing market of consumers who want to have a positive impact on people's lives, and aren't always sure where to begin," Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald said in a statement. "We believe travel is a meaningful way to allow for personal growth while making purposeful and engaging contributions to the world. We are so pleased that Fathom will give travelers a unique opportunity to work alongside local people as part of a larger-scale effort that will demonstrably improve lives. Both our travelers and the local citizens will learn and benefit from the opportunity to serve together."

Fathom cruises will last for seven days and will take place aboard the MV Adonia (pictured), a 710-passenger vessel redeployed from Carnival's British cruise line, P&O Cruises. Cruises will offer volunteer opportunities both onboard and onshore.

"Travelers will work in partnership with proven, trusted local organizations on the ground to amplify their missions for far greater, sustained impact," said Tara Russell, founder and chairman of the food production social enterprise Create Common Good, who has been named president of Fathom and global impact lead for Carnival Corp. "Because Fathom will bring hundreds of travelers to a destination on a regular basis, Fathom can achieve focused and holistic, collaborative contributions in a broad region of the country -- allowing Fathom travelers to make a collective, transformative impact that they know will extend far beyond their involvement. They also will know they played an important role in ensuring the region flourishes. We are excited about making the Puerto Plata region of the Dominican Republic our first partner destination, and we are optimistic about taking all that is being built in and through Fathom to other global destinations and to the broader Carnival corporate family."

Fathom cruises will begin with one to two days at sea "preparing hearts and minds" for the on-the-ground experience, including a wide variety of impact-readiness experiences, such as an orientation to the Dominican Republic, conversational Spanish lessons, impact activity training, creative workshops, and personal enrichment. Travelers will build their own schedules and will have the flexibility each day to choose from a variety of social impact and recreational activities, which will vary in length from a few hours to multiple days.

Sample activities may include: helping cultivate cacao plants and organic fertilizer at a nursery and assisting a local women's cooperative in producing artisan chocolates; working side-by-side with Dominican school teachers in classrooms to teach English skills and help boost students' academic performance; participating in adult-learning programs to teach small groups of local community members conversational English to help improve their ability to qualify for jobs that provide a higher level of income; and providing hands-on support to craft and build water filters -- using clay, a natural resource found locally -- and delivering those filters to families throughout the community to provide healthy drinking water.

Concluded Russell, "Together we aim to help communities and travelers flourish by providing immersive, life-changing experiences for travelers and allowing our partner communities to prosper."

Carnival already is accepting reservations for its inaugural Fathom voyage at Fathom.org. Prices start at $1,540 per person.