Big news from Carnival today:

Carnival Corporation & plc , the world’s largest travel and leisure company, today announced that the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Commerce granted approval for the company to begin travel to Cuba. Carnival Corporation intends to take travelers to Cuba beginning in May 2016 via its newly launched fathom brand – a new social impact travel brand providing purpose-oriented, social impact experiences, initially in the Dominican Republic.

Carnival Corporation intends to operate fathom travel itineraries directly to Cuba for the purpose of providing cultural, artistic, faith-based and humanitarian exchanges between American and Cuban citizens. Authorized under current U.S.-to-Cuba travel guidelines, the new Cuban itineraries on fathom will strictly comply with U.S. Department of Treasury rules that allow licensed travel companies to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in activities that support the Cuban people. Carnival Corporation is in active discussions and plans to work with the appropriate authorities in Cuba so that Cuban approval is granted.

Launched June 4th as Carnival Corporation’s 10th global brand, fathom is designed as a purpose-driven brand to enrich the lives of its travelers and in the case of the Dominican Republic, drive sustainable social impact on a significant scale. The brand expects to attract 37,000 annual travelers who collectively could spend a total of more than 100,000 days a year either volunteering or immersing in educational and cultural exchanges in local communities.

Beginning in April 2016, fathom will embark on weekly seven-day voyages from Port Miami aboard the MV Adonia, a 710-passenger vessel redeployed from Carnival Corporation’s P&O Cruises (UK) brand. fathom’s first impact destination will be the northern region of the Dominican Republic, whereCarnival Corporation’s new port of call, Amber Cove, will serve as home base.

Following the inaugural April month of voyages to the Dominican Republic, fathom intends to offer both Dominican and Cuban itineraries on a systematic and regular basis, giving travelers the opportunity to choose from two destinations and a range of activities from social impact in theDominican Republic and educational and cultural exchanges in both countries designed to have a positive, transformative effect on the lives of the travelers.

Arnold Donald, President and CEO of Carnival Corporation

“We are excited about receiving U.S. approval as the very important first step to ultimately take travelers to Cuba under the existing 12 criteria for authorized travel. We look forward to working with the Cuban authorities for their approval to help make the social, cultural and humanitarian exchanges between U.S. citizens and the people of Cuba a reality. We know there is strong demand from travelers who want to immerse themselves in Cuban culture, so this is a historic opportunity for us to enable more people to experience Cuban society. It is also an important opportunity for our new fathom brand to expand its positive influence in the world with this potential to add full-week immersion sailings to Cuba to its already planned full-week social-impact itineraries to the Dominican Republic beginning in the spring of 2016.”

Tara Russell, president of fathom and global impact lead for Carnival Corporation

“We’re incredibly excited and humbled by this potential opportunity to help travelers experience the amazing beauty and culture of Cuba, while being able to provide educational and cultural exchange activities that will benefit both the traveler and the Cuban people. After establishing the Dominican Republic as our first partner destination, Cuba represents an important step for us to expand our ability to offer meaningful and enriching experiences to purpose-driven travelers. Our goal remains the same for both destinations – to enable travelers to immerse, learn, serve and flourish while making enduring, sustainable contributions on a scalable and systematic basis. We are looking forward to building what we intend to be a beautiful and lasting friendship with the Cuban people.”