Did you ever debate these thoughts when deciding how to use your (limited) free time?
- I want to make a difference in the world, make a positive impact.
- I need a vacation. I want time to relax, recharge and also have fun.
Yes? Well, most of us do, we debate these choices. And now you can say YES to both with a new type of cruise and cruise line form Carnival Cruise that enables you to have fun and also travel deep to make a social impact. Hello Fathom Travel.
Fathom Travel, A new Carnival Cruise Line
I recently took a week long Fathom Travel Cruise to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and was able to enjoy typical cruise time; passing time on my balcony, fine dinning, sipping poolside drinks from a lounge chair and the hot tub, watching a sunset at sea, and then enjoying time in the impressive cruise port facility, the new Amber Cove, inclusive of; bars, (including a swim up pool bar), retail shops, water slides, zip-lines, water bungalows for rent, and more.
But the main purpose of the adventure was to take the travel impact excursions when in port and take on this new type of scaleable voluntoursim. But which ones should you select? Well that’s up to you, but I can recommend the three I selected.
My Fathom Impact Travel Excursions
Fathom offers multiple impact excursions, with the opportunity for all passengers to select three (included) on your cruise to the Dominican Republic. I chose Community English, Water Filtration, and Reforestation. All made an impact to the environment and people I worked with, and all made a HUGE impact on me too.
I decided to start with “teaching” community English and start the week off meeting the local community and the chance to educate myself further on the region and country. Already impressed with the materials (from an on ship cruise activity) I boarded a bus with others and headed for a local town.
The excursion began in the town center, the local Gazebo, where we met the head of households and conversed in a few “ice-breaking” activities. Then we divided up into two or three volunteers to walk back to a house and sit with our family contact and the rest of their family and begin.
“Hello, my name is Craig, How are you?”
With ladies of Wave Journey as my “teaching” partners, we worked a family of ten with ages from 4 to 50+. All were women too as the men were off working to provide for the family.
We opened the conversations with greetings, “followed” the lessons, repeated exercises often and essentially took “teaching” into our own hands to make it fun. The joy was not in the English learned or the Spanish I attempted (although I did smile often making mistakes) but in the connection formed. We laughed often and not at each other but with each other. The moment, magical at times, was extremely positive.
Travel Tip: Fathom offers Community English and Student English. I heard positive feedback from both. For me I wanted to visit and work with all ages and meet the locals. For others, they love working with children. You can do either, both or neither.
Take Note of: You don’t need to be a teacher, attend training or even know any Spanish to select this excursion. Also, it involves no real physical “labor.” The key is the desire to help and the ability to communicate and share basic English with the community with a smile.
Everyone seemed to want to make water filters, I know I did. I wanted to learn more about this precious resource too. A huge wait-list, not even slightly deterred by the $20 additional fee (not sure why the fee exists) reminded me to book excursions early before your trip. Thankfully good fortune prevailed for me and I attended.
The “factory,” designed in four workstations, was originally created to make water filters for neighboring Haiti after the earthquake. Afterwards, the small operation was kept on through Wine to Water and is now making filters for the local communities at the family (household) level.
On this excursion, participants first walk all the workstations and listen to processes at each station on a “factory tour,” and then divide up across each of the four stations (6 per station). Next you roll up the sleeves, put on the mask and glasses at times (one station involved dust particles) and let the physical work begin.
Work includes sifting wood to fine pieces that will be added to clay to make it porous, molding your own filter (with help), loading or unloading a huge kiln, and even testing the filter drip rates. And you also get to have some fun time making some clay pieces on a wheel. Each station is about 40 minutes and yes you can taste the filtered water, I did. Safe and delicious after some work for sure. For a quick look at the workstations see here > @StayAdventurous on Vine
Travel Tip: The bus ride is long (90 minutes) and you may get some mud on your clothes so dress properly. This also means wear loose pants or shorts; the meal they served was one of the best local meals on my entire trip. Delicious.
Take Note of: They actually charge about $8 USD to each family (and sometimes take it in fruit) to make sure the family is invested and committed in the filter and willuse it properly (which requires cleaning). Most of us only value what we pay for. The filters cost roughly $50 to make and are good for at least five years. On this day, we didn’t deliver water filters to families, but learned that this might happen on some future excursions.
We all often hear (and perhaps inherently know) how important rainforests are to our planet and on this excursion you actually get your hands dirty planting trees. A group of twenty-five (a typical excursion size) braved the hot sun and opened the earth on a hillside with shovels and planted over 250 trees.
When you arrive you first start with a discussion about the project from the seeds and types of trees (Mahogany, Cedar and others) to the planting process, After planting trees and then lunch we were also instructed on how they make the soil for the seedlings to grow.
One highlight, besides spending time making a difference with fellow fathom passengers and travel friends Lola and Erin was listening to the one Fathom Impact Guide, who returned after a few months to see her trees down in the other valley. Trees she and her test team of guides planting on an earlier test run. Progress was marked.
Travel Tip: Sunscreen, hat, repellent, proper shoes, and water all a must on this excursion. You will get physical if your excursion is to the rain forest itself.
Take Note of: In the four days of excursions, some people planted trees in a rain forest (me), others only planted seedlings in dirt at the facility, and still others planted and worked with mangroves on the coastline. Each day was different depending on the needs and also the weather.
Other excursions include working with chocolate, recycled paper, and pouring concrete floors. See a full list of the Fathom Impact Travel Excursions and fun excursion in the Dominican > here.
Making an Impact through Travel
I believe you need to follow your passion in life and as you know for me, it starts with a stay adventurous mindset (a mindset for travel; a mindset for life). I “preach” travel is the gateway to transformation in your life. I recommend an adventurous solo travel trip, but realize it is not always in the cards for everyone. Now I realize a week long sail with Fathom can also provide an opportunity to spark a transformation. So definitely choose wisely with your time, but also fathom the difference one can make for a community and even oneself in a week.
Passengers get to combine fun at sea along with the chance to travel deep and make an impact. From my experience I can say with confidence the excursions will make a difference in the Dominican community, but I also believe it can and will ignite change in the traveler – you. For more details on my thoughts listen to my latest podcast – Fathom a New Way to Travel
Stay adventurous, Craig
I was a guest on the inaugural Fathom Travel Cruise to the Dominican Republic, but as always the opinions and words are my own.