By Jacqueline Gifford
June 04, 2015
Credit: Courtesy of Fathom

Today, Carnival announced a groundbreaking concept in the cruise industry geared toward “social impact” travel. The new brand, Fathom, set to launch in April 2016, will take travelers via ship to areas in need, and work with on-the-ground partners to help local communities.

“We see a tremendous opportunity to explore new market share though this radical concept,” Tara Russell, the president of Fathom, and Carnival’s Global Impact Lead, told Travel + Leisure. “People are looking to combine their hunger for purpose with travel. We are defining a new category: social impact travel.”

Russell also explained that Fathom is geared toward millennials; families with kids eight and older; and adults fifty and older who are craving mindful travel. Many of these travelers will likely have never cruised before.

The first Fathom itinerary will be a round-trip, Sunday-to-Sunday cruise leaving from Miami and sailing to Amber Cove, Carnival’s new port in the Puerto Plata area of the Dominican Republic. The voyages begin in April, and the same cruise will run on a weekly basis in order to have a continuous effect on the ground.

Though the north coast of the Dominican Republic is renowned for its beauty, many local families live on just $6,000 a year, and do not have access to piped water. Carnival is seeking to improve conditions by having Fathom guests participate in on-the-ground impact excursions, everything from making chocolate with a women’s cooperative to volunteering at a local school in a conversational English workshop. Environmental activities including crafting and building water filters using clay.

Fathom guests will sail on the re-fashioned, 700-passenger Adonia. While at sea for two full days, they will be able to experience Dominican food, music, and film, as well as learn about the communities they will be interacting with on the ground.

Most impact excursions are included in the fare, while additional activities—windsurfing, boating—will be at an additional cost. Fares start at $1,540 per person for an exterior windowed cabin, and include all meals, all onboard social impact immersion experiences, three on-shore social impact excursions, taxes, and fees.