Carnival’s foray into social impact cruising will no longer have a dedicated ship sailing under its Fathom brand after May 2017.
Fathom’s Adonia, a 704-passenger vessel that has been sailing alternating week-long voyages to the Dominican Republic (DR) and Cuba since April, will return to the fleet of European P&O Cruises in June of 2017.
Carnival is an American-British cruise company and the world’s largest travel leisure company, with a combined fleet of over 100 vessels across 10 cruise line brands.
While the vessel will return to Europe, the world’s largest cruise operator will instead offer passengers the chance to do volunteer work in the DR and Cuba on Fathom voyages aboard ships sailing under other brands such Carnival and Princess Cruises, spokesman Roger Frizzell said Wednesday in an interview.
The company also may expand the social impact-focused shore tour operation to other destinations beyond the Dominican Republic.
Carnival hopes to continue Cuba sailings beyond next summer with other brands and vessels. Frizzell said the company has requested approval from the Cuban government for other brands to sail there beginning in June 2017.
Reports indicate the Cuban government favors smaller ships that have modest infrastructure needs at port, so it is unclear whether the ship sizes being offered by Carnival will be accepted by the Cubans.
Fathom’s Cuba sailings were, “extremely successful,” Frizzell said.
Relative Prices Reveal a Rift
Pricing of Fathom’s cruises illustrate important supply and demand preferences by travelers. Fathom offered almost identical products for Cuba and the DR (same ship, same cruise duration) yet pricing was radically different. A week-long cruise to Cuba is about $1,899 per person while the same offering for the DR is about $499 per person. Heavy promotion of the DR cruises suggests that the DR itineraries were not full even at the often-seen $200 per person promotion.
The Fathom brand was “listing” badly under the yoke of split itineraries.
Despite offering more hands-on, immersive experiences on the ground in the DR, travelers aboard the Adonia’s DR itineraries endured a forced march through a vacant, NJ-style strip mall at the DR area of Puerto Plata upon arrival. Built by Carnival at a cost of $85 million, Amber Cove, as the port is called today by Carnival, appears to have been built to sell stuff instead of exposing travelers to something authentic after the two-day voyage to get to Amber Cove from Miami.
The majority of the storefronts were either unoccupied or not open. The Amber Cove experience appears to be a textbook case of the Gruen effect in terms of design.
The Fathom team did a remarkable job of partnering and promotions.
A partnership with Airbnb was designed to reward new Airbnb hosts. The offering, for new Airbnb hosts in the U.S., included a $250 discount applicable to one of the seven-day Fathom cruise options.
Earlier this year, Fathom announced that Ashoka, the largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide, developed select onboard programming for sailings to the DR and Cuba.
In addition to conducting in-depth training for Fathom Impact Guides, who lead the onboard sessions on Fathom’s weekly voyages, staff and social entrepreneurs from Ashoka participated onboard periodically throughout the year to observe and assist Impact Guides to run Ashoka sessions and practice changemaking in their day-to-day work life.
The partnership was the first of its kind for Ashoka in the cruise industry.