This Cruise Line Was Made for Travelers Wanting to Do Good

More than a million people are interested in "social impact cruising"


Passengers volunteer at a women’s cooperative and cacao farm. (Syda Productions /

Passengers volunteer at a women’s cooperative and cacao farm. (Syda Productions /

Almost anyone has at some point dreamt of taking a cruise and sailing the seven seas on a luxurious ship. But what if you could combine a relaxing trip through the Caribbean with doing something good for the local communities of the places you visit? Cruise ship company Carnival has taken that thought to the next level and six months ago debuted Fathom.

The experiment in social impact cruising offers passengers who want to spend a day volunteering instead of sunbathing or snorkeling the possibility to participate in philanthropic projects during their shore excursions. Since Fathom first started visiting the Dominican Republic in late April, its passengers have installed 730 water filters, poured 40 concrete floors, planted almost 16,000 seedlings, and provided about 17,500 hours of training to help locals practice conversational English.

Demand for social impact cruises is on the rise and starting November 2016, six other companies offer similar trips to the Dominican Republic. Fathom will soon also offer trips to Cuba, where motivated passengers can choose from two different voyages and a variety of volunteering options. The trips are all about giving back, cultural immersion and discovering the beauty of places that tourists might usually not reach. Their warm reception definitely shows that more people want to get involved in having a positive impact and help those less fortunate than them.

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