Earlier this month Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp. announced a new cruise line that will begin servicing the Dominican Republic next April. Dubbed “Fathom,” Carnival is seeking to attract new customers — those who wouldn’t normally take a cruise — while doing some good too, by offering what it calls “social-impact travel.”
In its first year, Fathom expects to bring 35,000 passengers to the Dominican Republic to take part in “cooperative social projects” akin to Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village program. In attempt to attract “purpose-driven millennials,” guests on fathom will be able to use their vacation to make a positive impact on the world, engaging in projects such as reforestation and water purification, teaching English, and volunteering with a women's cooperative that harvests coca.
In conceiving Fathom, Donald drew upon his previous nonprofit experience. But Carnival is not shying away from the for-profit aims of Fathom. Through market research, the company has estimated that the market for passengers looking to combine the fun of a cruise with socially conscious humanitarian efforts to be around $1.6 billion dollars.
Excursion operators seeking to capitalize on this market may want to consider changing some of their attractions. “There probably won’t be any Broadway shows or anything like that,” Donald said. “But there will be fun that’s appropriate to the purpose that these people have selected to become travelers for.”
While Fathom will begin with trips to the Dominican Republic, Carnival hopes to eventually expand to other destinations. One such possibility is Cuba since, since the brand’s humanitarian mission allows American citizens to visit the otherwise embargoed island.