April 2016 – Welcome to South Beach, Miami
Miami is a great place to start your vacation a few days prior to a cruise departure. The W Hotel South Beach is the place to stay. W Hotel is situated on a magnificent white sand beach with turquoise water, hot pink sun umbrellas and comfortable pink cushioned chairs lining the beach. Just off the beach is a relaxing pool with an expansive deck where guests gather to relax and enjoy the great music selection. There’s nothing better than enjoying the sun and beautiful surroundings with a signature frozen cocktail in-hand.
Our ocean view room overlooked the tropical grounds and featured an oversized king studio with expanded living room area and outdoor balcony with lounge chairs. A sleek, very large bathroom offered a Jacuzzi tub and separate walk-in shower. The W Hotel provided an excellent start to our vacation.
On the seas for 7 nights, from Miami to the Dominican Republic aboard a Fathom Impact Cruise
My daughter Jennifer and I arrived at the pier at noon and quickly boarded our ship, the Adonia – a relatively small ship that carries 600 passengers and was originally the Royal Princess, one of the smallest ships in the Princess fleet. This inaugural sailing had approximately 400 passengers to name a few; members of the travel industry, the media, teachers, groups and non-profit organizations.
The brochure description of our stateroom stated “a comfortable place to sleep.” I was anxious to view the stateroom, but as it turned out, our accommodations far exceeded my expectations. A luxurious bed, sitting area, vanity, balcony with seating and plenty or storage space made our time very comfortable. Fathom doesn’t offer stateroom service. They do allow you to bring on board a bottle of liquor per person, which other cruise ships usually do not permit.
The ship featured several attractive bars and lounges, as well as a dining room with wall-to-wall windows, shops, coffee lounge, spa and gym facility. Fathom offers a laid back type of cruise with a casual dress code throughout. Minimum age requirement is 8 years old, as there are no children’s programs. Families aboard the cruise enjoy time with each other playing board games, table games, watching movies under the stars and participating in the many activities offered throughout the week. The Adonia doesn’t have a casino or nightly production shows and there are no announcements made on loud speaker throughout the day. They do offer entertainment by the pool and bring on a local band from the Dominican Republic while docked for 4 days, and each night you will find musicians and singers in the lounges. Some other activities include paint & wine night.
One of the unique aspects of this cruise is that it provided feel-good opportunities to give back. Shortly before sailing, we met our Impact Guides that were going to lead us through the many volunteering opportunities ashore. They all ran various seminars while at sea, creating motivational activities and enrichment programs. We took the required Spanish phrases class to assist us in communicating with the locals. It was a great way to meet our fellow travelers who were just excited to learn what Fathom is all about.
Dining aboard the Adonia was simple but the food was delicious mostly inspired by Dominican and Cuban cuisine. There is a choice between the dining room, a buffet and one specialty restaurant. On the first night there is assigned seating in the dining room, whereas you can choose your own seating for the remaining nights. The dining staff was outstanding and so friendly, and truly wanted to hear about your day and experiences.
What is Fathom?
It is a neighborhood at sea or a community, a group of people sharing experiences. An exploration of how to support others in our world and see the world through others eyes, always opt for new opportunities. Fathom is new to the travel industry; it will be sailing to the Dominican Republic or Cuba for 7 night cruises offering you the opportunity to participate in social impact work. Average income in the Dominican is $5000 and the work you do truly helps the people. There are 7 complimentary impact activities to choose from and you can select up to 5 to fit in during the port visit. My daughter and I selected the 4 highlighted.
- Chocal – 23 female entrepreneurs created a chocolate factory business to support their families. We assisted by venturing up to the mountains to sort freshly picked cacao beans and help speed up the very time-consuming, manual processes involved in producing chocolate bars.
- Water Filtration – Passengers helped create clay pots for portable water and filtration system.
- Reforestation – Fellow travelers planted trees.
- Community English –We visited the home of a lovely high school girl, who introduced us to her family in order to empower families to learn English in their homes, while they helped us experience the culture of their community.
- Student English – At a local elementary school, we were greeted by smiling students who treated us like celebrities as we worked to empower them to learn English in the school. My daughter and I were assigned to a 4th grade student named Yolanda, who didn’t know any English. She watched our every move while we worked with her using a lesson plan provided to us and flash cards. She learned “nice to meet you,” “how are you,” “my name is,” and more. We then spent the next few hours with a 4th grade boy name Jovensky, who was originally from Haiti and spoke French as well as Spanish. It was an incredible morning of teaching, singing group songs in English and Spanish. We were also able to enjoy this experience on another day at a different elementary school with 8th grade students.
- Cement Flooring – Our shipmates replaced dirt floors with new, cement floors within local homes.
- Repappell – At another female-run business, we helped create paper to sell as post cards and other recycled paper products. All the local workers were appreciative of our help. In a country that lacks much of the modern technology that we have at home, the process of making recycled paper products is extremely tedious and time-consuming.
Days at Sea
We began our days with early breakfasts to ensure we could take in all the great seminars that were offered. All the workshops and seminars are designed to have you meet your fellow travelers and separate you for a short while from your traveling companions. You have an opportunity to share why Fathom Impact Travel is important to you and these workshops enrich the purpose of the entire cruise experience.
Heading for Home
We enjoyed our last day at sea thinking about the wonderful impact activities we experienced and took in a few more workshops. Of course, a cruise wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Adonia’s beautiful spa. Our evening ended with a visit to the ship’s gift shop, where 90% of what they sell is fair trade – meaning it was made by an individual and the company that sells it gives back. A few examples of the fair trade items include flip flop sandals made by OrphansToOprhans.com, and great tote bags made by Krochetkids.com. There are some amazing items to purchase all from companies that promote giving back.
I highly recommend a Fathom Cruise, as it is an amazing experience for families to spend time together and have them work with other children and families. The experience would also be a great team building opportunity for companies with incentive programs, as well as trips sponsored by schools, or Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops.
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, sail with Fathom for a great experience.