The fact that the Obama administration is renewing diplomatic relations with Cuba after five decades of tension has travel companies salivating. One of the first to jump into the fray is Carnival Cruises, which has cleared hurdles with the U.S. government to set sail to the island, pending expected approval from the Cuban government.
Carnival will not, however, be pushing leisure beach vacations. As the Huffington Post reports, expect Carnival cruises to Cuba under its new Fathom brand, which offers journeys to destinations for weeklong “voluntourism” experiences.
Voluntourism pairs volunteering with tourism. The focus of such travel is education, cultural immersion and cultural exchange.
Scott Mayerowitz of the Associated Press writes, “Adonia (the ship that will sail to Cuba) won’t have a casino or Broadway shows. And guests shouldn’t expect to spend their time in Cuba snorkeling or riding Jet Skis. Each day, under U.S. regulations governing Cuba visits, they will have to spend at least eight hours involved in some type of cultural experience.”
Fathom to the Dominican Republic
The inaugural Fathom voyage will depart from Miami in April 2016. The destination will be the Dominican Republic. Participants will sail on the 710-passenger ship Adonia and take part in organized humanitarian work in the Puerto Plata region of the island. Prices are expected to start at $1,540 per person, which will include accommodations, meals and three on-shore volunteer activities.
Carnival hopes to begin sailing the Adonia to Cuba in May 2016. Passengers, who will sleep aboard the ship, will have ample opportunity to learn about the unique art, music, food and culture of the country. Prices for the seven-day Cuban cruises, which will depart from Miami every other week, are expected to start at $2,990 per person.
Fathom, which is Carnival’s tenth brand, was launched in June. It was designed for those who want to travel to a destination where they can do hands-on, social justice work. In the Dominican Republic, this may entail cultivating cacao plants at a cooperative, producing clay water filters or teaching English in a school. The itinerary for Fathom’s Cuban cruise has not yet been announced.
Carnival hopes that its Fathom excursions will attract younger people to cruising. The company predicts that 40 percent of the passengers on Fathom cruises will be first-timers on the seas, and many of them will be significantly younger than the average cruise passenger, who is 49.