fathom journey, 4/17/16 - 4/24/16 - THE JOURNEY BEGINS

Good Morning!  What a day yesterday.  My plane landed at 6:30am, grabbed an Uber to the Holiday Inn near the terminal, had a bit of breakfast, and, bored, went on over to the cruise terminal about 8ish.  And I wasn't the first one there.  So, I hung out and got to know Sarah from Boise a little.  At about 9 they let us in the terminal.  At 10 they opened the check in and I WAS FIRST IN LINE!  So, I was the first person to officially check in for a fathom journey.  Kind of cool.
Then we sat around some more...met a few more friends who are on the ship with me this week.  Saw Ron Fenska,  he told me he saw my FB post about being first in line and told the lady at the door to make sure I was first getting onboard...alas, when they opened up for boarding it was a stampede and I had to decide between knocking some nice looking kids down, or forgoing the honor.  Despite my instincts, I went with the kinder, gentler option and was about 20th onboard.  This whole Impact + Travel thing is changing me already.
Once onboard I found my cabin.  A standard balcony.  Nice.  Maybe a tad on the small side, but well laid out with lots of storage and a pretty good sized balcony.  The bathroom has one of those hateful shower curtains, but I can make do.  One funny thing:  When P&O (UK) purchased this ship in 2011, and started carrying a mostly British clientele, they put in "tea making kits with *proper mugs* as one reviewer put it  In order to keep the Brits from mutinying.  The hot pots are still there, and the teas in a nice wooden chest which also contains INSTANT COFFEE POWDER!  Now, you guys know I love my cousins from across the pond, and I'm not still angry about the Tea Tax or anything, but COME ON...we fought and won a revolution over this...screw tea...I WANT REAL COFFEE IN MY ROOM.  Seriously, it's not the end of the world, and I am fortunately one deck down from the Lido where I can get *proper* coffee, but, you know...you're in America now. okay /rant off
So, yeah, after getting settled in I decided to take a little spin around the ship and kept running out of ship.  Compared to the last few ships I've been on, she is tiny.  Which is not at all a bad thing.  I not only know the layout of the ship, but I have met about 2/3rds of my fellow passengers, and easily 1/2 the staff and crew.  Had a 20 minute conversation with the chef of Ocean Grill, an engaging Dominican by the name of Emil Vega, who is passionate about sharing his native cuisine.  He is the chef at the only alternative dining venue, Ocean Grill.  Which is a holdover name, I believe.  Because the menu is not heavy on seafood.  But it is full of Dominican staples like lechon, mofongo, and sancocho.  Can't wait to try it.  Probably tomorrow, as they aren't open tonite.
Muster drill was at 4.  Reminded me of the bad old days.  We had to bring our life vests.  And sit til everyone got there.  Then sit some more.  Then watch them put on the vests.  Then put them on ourselves...It didn't take THAT long, given there aren't that many of us, but it was certainly not as crisp and quick as most i've been to lately.
Then we sailed away to the most interesting sail away party, ever.  Drinks and snacks, and speeches with a defective PA by Arnold Donald, Carnival Corp's CEO and Tara Russell, fathom's CEO.  Which was standard stuff, but then the interesting stuff...tables around the pool area with different activities.  There was a Wisdom Wall where people could write questions on the windows, and other's would give their answers.  A name tag with, besides your name, two entries to fill out "I CAN TEACH_____" and "I WANT TO LEARN_____".  An atlas wall, where they took polaroids and you pinned them up wherever you happened to be from.  Oh, and zip messages!  There was a zipline from the upper sun deck down to the pool, you write a question for someone down below and zip it down to them attached to a carabiner.
I finally got to meet Tara Russell and get that hug she's been promising.  She has been awesome in communicating with me (and a thousand others, I'm sure) in the couple weeks leading up to this cruise.  She really is a warm, sincere, caring person, and you can tell she has invested a good deal of her soul in to this project.  I truly hope they succeed, if for no other reason than it would hurt her and so many of the team she's built if it crashes and burns.  Hearing her speak today, I can only imagine what a blow it was last week when the darned Coast Guard stopped the soft launch.
And the team, by the way, are uniformly splendid.  Sure, cruise staffers are always fun and helpful...it is their job.  But you can see, talking to these youngsters that it really is a cause for them, and not just a job.  Ditto for the higher ups running around.  It's clear that they all feel a sense of mission beyond your normal start up company.  They really do want to change the world, and bring a new thing in to fruition.  Variations on "voluntourism" or whatever have and are doing good things in the world, but they are taking it to a different level with fathom journeys.  Of course, being the first American based line in to Cuba is a big deal in itself, but the plan to combine it with the cultural immersion and alternate weeks with the Dominican Republic and all the impact activities there.  It's very ambitious.  And admirable.

And of course, I can't really tell you yet, what I think overall, as we're just floating along in the Gulf of Mexico so far.  But if the activities on land are was well thought out and executed as the little I've seen so far on the ship...I can think of dozens of my clients I'd recommend it to.
After the deck party I decided to just relax for a minute.  They had me scheduled for dinner at 9pm.  The rest of the week is open dining.  I don't remember the last time I had dinner at 9, but I know it was before the keikis became part of my life.  Sadly, they have forced me to eat dinner no later than 5, as we squeeze in an hour of family time between the end of school and the beginning of soccer, baseball, cheer etc.   One part of me thinks it's a ridiculously late hour to dine.  The other part remembers what it was like to be a grown up with no dependents, and getting to stay up past 10.
In any case, dinner was amazing.  The entrees were lobster, duck, a sampler of pork dishes and something vegetarian...I know I saw fried avocado on there.  I went with the duck and it was nomnomnom.  Served over baby spinach with a fried plantain side and some slightly sweet sauce.  And some sauted grapes.  Desert was a key lime and mint panna cota.  I love panna cota. This was a good one.  And my table mates were an interesting lot, as well.  A Carnival Corp procurement person, a friend of Tara's from Boise who had never been on a cruise, and two couples working as travel agents in their retirement.  One couple from Tampa and the other from Malibu.
After dinner (about 11pm), I was determined to head home and get some sleep.  But I passed Ron and one of his team, Bill, in the bar and just had to gab for a minute.  or 30.  So, now it's passed midnite and I decided to change things up from my usual early morning write-fest, and do a midnite missive.  Who know what tomorrow will bring?
So, for now, muchachos y muchachas, I say Hasta Luego!

oh, and I can't leave without saying - if you are already convinced this fathom thing is something you want to take a shot at, give me a call/email/pm.  or find me on FB.  Or join my latest Facebook Group, Friendly Fathom Cruisers, for a ton of good information, and video and pics.
And if you're not convinced, yet...keep reading for the rest of the week.  You will be.  Because, as Jake and Elwood once said "We're on a mission from GAHD"

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