fathom cruise to Dominican Republic - PREVIEW, pt II

okay, so here's a thing - I am a tireless researcher of travel.  When I said in most places I prefer to just wander off and find a local to show me the off-the-beaten-path stuff?  I usually know, before I go, a lot about the place I'm going.  And when it comes to ships, I usually have the whole deck plan memorized.  And all the ins and outs of how things are done, so I don't have to waste time or miss something, learning on the spot.

So, shortly after being confirmed on the Adonia for April, I started in...except...IT'S A BRAND NEW COMPANY!!!  There are no reviews, because no one has sailed with them.  Ever.  Sure, some useful info can be gleaned from reviews of the ship as it sailed for P&O, but, while they are keeping the staff...the dining is changing.  The entertainment is leaving.  They've even slightly changed the way cabins are numbered.  The shoreside experiences are basically unknown.  They have flown some journalists down to participate in what are, at best, trial runs, but who knows how it's all going to work with a full complement of passengers? 

At first my inner-obsessive was dismayed.  Then my inner-adventurer said "YAY!!!", a brand new thing".  I haven't been on a brand new cruise line since 1990 when I sailed the inaugural cruise on the Crown Monarch of the short lived Crown Cruise Line.  And of course, since that was pretty much before most of the internet as we know it today, I wasn't such a researcher then...I just pretty much booked stuff over the phone and showed up and figured it out as I went.  Thinking back on it, I kind of miss that.  I may have to re-think my whole life at this point.  Maybe the web and social media aren't the blessing I thought they were.

The flip side of that is, everything I report on this blog and on my FB page is going to be new information (okay, I may get scooped by a week, but that's pretty close to new).  So, it's exciting to think I'll actually be telling people stuff they don't know.  But the pressure to get it right, and to get all the details?  whew...I hope I'm up to the task.

btw, and in closing, I previously listed all the ways you can follow along on my trip, but I forgot to link my YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/DavidHolmanHolmanTravel).  I will probably be posting a ton of video, since (in case I haven't mentioned it) it's a lot of new stuff!

Enough for now.  I'll check in a couple more times before I sail away in SIXTEEN DAYS!

Auf Wiedersehen für jetzt, treuer Leser


FATHOM Cruise to Dominican Republic - PREVIEW

Hey, so...time to dust off the blog. 

Thanks to Ron Fenska, VP/Sales at the brand new fathom cruises, I am going to try some Impact + Travel! 

Yes the small "f" is on purpose. Apparently the good folks at this new, socially/environmentally/culturally conscious company were channeling their inner e.e. cummings when they came up with the name/logo.

If you haven't yet heard of fathom, check them out at www.fathom.org .  Their big thang is they're going to be the first cruise line to sail directly from the U.S. to Cuba.  But they are alternating weeks with trips to the Dominican Republic.  The Inaugural Sailing will be 4/10, and I'll be on the second sailing, 4/17.  To the DR.  Cuba isn't happening until 5/1.  I could have waited, but I'll get back to Cuba, some day.  In the meantime I really wanted to try out this new Impact Travel deal.

The whole basis is to combine travel with meaningful opportunities to do volunteer work with and for the locals.  So rather than get drunk on a beach and buy some trinkets at every stop, passengers on fathom are expected to participate in cultural enrichment activities like teaching English, economic development activities like working at a women's cooperative chocolate factory, doing everything from planting cacao to packing product, or environmental projects like re-forestation or making water filters to improve the locals access to clean water.  I particularly like the idea of pouring concrete floors for people living in dirt-floored homes.  And making chocolate.  ;-)

All this, while using a lovely cruise ship as the home base.  The ship has the standard pools, spa, bars, etc, but even the sea days on the way down are used to orient and prepare the passengers for the work ahead.  Not all day or anything, and I'm sure I'll get some pool time, but yeah...learning a little about the culture you're going in to, polishing (or for some people, acquiring) the Spanish, etc. 

They use the "Impact + Travel" thing a lot, but there is another phrase on their website that appeals to me - "Travel With A Purpose".  I like that.  And I think the whole thing fits my style.  I am not one to do organized excursions while traveling.  I generally prefer to just get off the ship, start walking, befriend a guide/driver and let them take me on the road less traveled.  And I am going to blow my own cover here.  While I've never talked about it, one of the things I usually do when traveling is look up, before hand, local charities, orphanages or clinics, and contact them to see what kind of supplies they might need that I can acquire easily in the States, and bring to them.  I just think that goes so much farther in lifting people up, than buying useless souvenirs from them.  JMHO.  I don't judge anyone's philanthropy, and anything is better than nothing, but I have a real hang up on giving money to large organizations.  My friends can attest that I am a pretty soft touch when a local do-good organization is looking for donations of time or money, but I just won't give a dime to the Red Cross, or United Way or any of those top-heavy corporations.

Anyway, enough of that.  I'll be heading out of here on a red eye to get to Miami on the 17th, hop on the lovely M/V Adonia (fathom's first and only ship, so far).  The Adonia began life as R Eight for Renaissance Cruises, having been delivered not long before they went bankrupt.  In the years since, all 8 of the "R" ships have proven to be maybe the best small cruise ship design, ever.  They are currently in service with Princess, Oceania, Azamara and P&O.  Tiny by current MegaShip standards at only 30,000 tons and 710 passengers (compared to a bunch of new ships over 150,000 tons and with 4000-5000 people onboard).  This allows them not only to dock in  less developed areas, but also allows the passengers to really get to know each other in a weeks time.  I remember when cruise ships topped out at 1000 passengers, and by the time you got off a 7 day cruise you were talking or at least nodding to everyone as you debarked.  These days, you get off and you're still surrounded by strangers you've never seen before.  So that's cool, right there...just a chance to get back to a small ship.  Sure you miss some amenities and entertainment, but you do gain "community".

Getting on the ship the 17th, then two days at sea down to the DR, where we dock for 3 days at Amber Cove, near Puerto Plata.  And head out each morning for a new adventure.  Or 3 days at the same adventure.  Depending on you and what you want to focus on, you can choose from a large menu of Impact Excursions, some of them multi-day.  And after that, another 2 days back to Miami.

 Hopefully with both a tan and some small feeling that you've done some small thing to make someone's life a little better (including your own).

Anyway, my regular readers know the drill:  I'll be posting a "Live From fathom" series every morning of the trip, clueing you in on the days activities.  And letting you know why you, too, should be booking a trip.  With me, at www.bridges-holman.com, or by emailing me at daveholman@Verizon.net, or calling 760.265.3687, or finding me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.  And while you're at it, you can "subscribe" to the blog and get the post delivered direct to your email.  I promise, no spam, or even excessive posts.

And finally, once again...a million thanks to Ron Fenska, VP/Sales and general all around good guy, for making this trip possible for me!

ta ta, mes amies