Background

Last week, Carnival Corporation & plc launched their 10th brand, fathom (the ‘f’ is lowercase). They will transfer the 2001-built, 30,277gt Adonia (ex-R Eight, Minerva II, Royal Princess) from P&O Cruises to this new brand. The concept behind fathom is ‘social impact cruising.’ Instead of calling a 3-5 ports and lounging at a beach all day, when you get off the ship, you’ll be helping the locals. It will call only one port so guests can really immerse themselves in the local community. It’s a concept that hasn’t really been done before.

Operations

The itinerary will be as follows:

Sun Miami – 4:00pm
Mon At Sea – –
Tue Amber Cove ~1:00pm In Port Overnight
Wed Amber Cove In Port Overnight
Thu Amber Cove In Port Overnight
Fri Amber Cove – ~2:00pm
Sat At Sea – –
Sun Miami 7:00am

They have not set firm arrival and departure times in the Dominican yet but she’ll definitely overnight there.

As a ship geek, I dont see where, if any, changes will be made to her general arrangement. They haven’t released the deck plans for her yet. President of fathom, Tara Russell, confirmed on CruiseRadio:

“the ship will look and feel pretty different, but we’re not changing the architecture.”

She’ll enter a drydock at the end of 2016 for the transformation. Probably the biggest change will be the funnel going from P&O canary yellow to dark blue.

The Critics

The cynics and critics out there are giving this 6 months. They claim no one would want to do this, which is actually quite short sighted on their part. The asking price is $1,500 for a week long cruise just Amber Cove. That’s twice the rate for a Carnival cruise to the Eastern Caribbean that would feature a stop there anyways.

My Analysis

The Adonia is a small ship, 688-826 pax, so shouldn’t be too hard to fill up weekly. 700 passengers X 52 weeks a year = total 36,400 berths to fill up.

I feel they aren’t really catering to that many current cruisers though, which is where the monitory negative opinion is coming from. They are targeting a market that wouldn’t necessarily consider a cruise as a summer trip. If you get this untapped market to board a ship, you instantly introduce them to crusing and the carnival brand.

One only needs to look so far as their website to see how their target market differs from Carnival Cruise Lines with the use of phrases such as “variety of vegetarian options”, “spirit gets a bit of extra nourishment too,” and “Yes, of course you’ll have leisure moments, creature comforts and time for recreation.”

Some Remaining Notes

via flickr(Kabacchi)

This venture reminds me of Japan’s Peaceboat organization. They operate extremely old tonnage, at one point they were operating one of the oldest passenger vessels afloat, and dock for long periods in Asia and Africa on humanitarian missions.

A quick one liner about fathom; It’s like peace boat, but comfortable.

Dave Monk of shipmonk added his take. From his prospective, fellow UK travelers are upset that the Adonia is being transferred from UK’s P&O to fathom which will be based out of the US.

Closing Thoughts

Detractors have said that it’s “insincere for volunteers to take a luxury cruise there.” However if this gets people, and I reiterate my statement, this is an untapped market that wouldn’t be cruising anyways, if this gets them talking about cruising and makes people feel like they are contributing to society, plus local villages in poor areas benefit, how is this not a good idea?

One thing that sets the cruise industry , and really the maritime industry as a whole apart, is that all their assets and operations are mobile. If fathom is a success with Miami-Amber Cove, they can pull more assets (ships) into the fleet and go where the market demand is. If they want to expand fathom to Asia or Africa they absolutely can. They can send the Adonia, a small ship, to new regions to test out markets while increasing the tonnage on the Miami-Amber Cove route. Hey, maybe we found a place for the Fantasy class vessels in 4-7 years.

Here’s to hoping for the best in this ambitious venture. If there’s one line with the resources and capitol to do it, it’s Carnival Corp.

I wonder if a cruise with fathom this will qualify as a tax deductible…..