April 2016 was historic in the cruising industry for several reasons including a finalization of a cruise ship, The Adonia ,to be the first cruise ship sailing out of a US port to dock in Cuba. However, In mid- April we were fortunate to be part of a group of journalists to be invited to sail on a week long inaugural cruise to Amber Cove, a $85 million dollar port built by Carnival Cruise lines, the parent company of Fathom Impact Travel and to experience a different type of travel that will socially and financially impact the local communities in Puerto Plata, on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic.
The Brainchild behind this vision is Entrepeneur Tara Russell along with support from Donald Arnold, CEO of Carnival Corporation and plc., and a team of devoted personnel who plan on adding a social and environmental aspect to the cruising industry. With over 20 years in the public and private sector , Tara understands that in today’s global climate, giving back and making a difference is crucial and that the billion dollar cruise line industry needs to partake.
The Adonia is a 740 passenger cruise ship acquired by Carnival from Renaissance Cruises and has recently sailed as part of the UK P & O group. Having gone into dry dock and refurbished, this vessel is designed for cultural immersion travel with many locations on board for meetings, classes, discussions, and a few salsa and merengue classes as well. For trips to the Dominican Republic, a Dominican chef was hired to create a menu with regional dishes to accentuate the experience and the same will be done on the Cuba cruises. Regional cocktails like the Cuba Libre, my favorite, and the Mojito are prepared by the friendly bartenders on board. A note to Carnival, a beverage plan like the ones available on your other ships would help us enjoy many of these specialties at an affordable rate. Cabins are comfortable, pretty spacious and are based on double occupancy. Some can accommodate a third guest and are either inside, outside or featuring a balcony. A few suites are available as well.
The Adonia sails from The Port of Miami and spends one full day at sea, allowing passengers to enjoy regular cruise ship amenities , but the schedule is jam packed with many immersion and learning activities to prepare for the days ahead in port. Amber Cove, alone is a destination in itself and serves as a perfect jumping point to the Social Impact activities. With a huge resort style pool complete with waterslides, a swim-up bar, luxury cabanas that can be rented for the day, and many retail shops it is a great place to unwind after a day spent in the local communities of Puerto Plata.
Some of the Social Impact activities include teaching English to the families in the surrounding towns, Reforestation and visiting a local Cocoa Coop, where along with the local women chocolate is made and wrapped and put out for sale. These social impact activities are vital to the economic development and self sufficiency of the local people. Families are encouraged to bring children along on this cruise, because as I witnessed personally with my colleague’s daughter she got as much education and a genuine respect for giving back as the families she read English to! Snorkeling and Beach excursions are available at an additional cost.
For more info on Fathom Impact Travel and to Book your cruise visit http://www.fathom.org #TravelDeep