My experience with Fathom still has me feeling great about the world and myself. I have been telling everyone that I meet about it. Now, I am extremely excited to share the full experience with you! Are you ready to learn all about Voluntourism and Fathom Travel?
The journey begins in the Port of Miami where the Fathom ship sits regally waiting to be boarded by do-gooders and aspiring do-gooders like my friends and me. We arrived in style with the help a gracious limo driver that gave us a great deal on the ride. We left our hectic lives filled children and work behind. It was the best feeling in the world.
Fathom Travel is a new way to travel called Voluntourism or Impact Travel. This is when the cruise is focused on not only relaxing but also helping people in the destination country. Travel transforms the life of the traveler, and now it can change the lives of people in the host country. The Impact Activities work alongside social programs that are already in place in the Dominican Republic. The programs are focusing on making Dominican lives better. You can help by signing up for things like Making Water Filters, Laying Concrete Floors, Recycling Paper, Teaching English in Schools & Homes, Making Chocolate, and Reforestation. The activities available will likely grow as there is a need. There is a new program where impoverished Dominican woman makes soap being sponsored by Flagler College Enactus Program that is currently being reviewed by Fathom to upgraded to a Fathom Sponsored Impact Activity.
The Adonia fits 704 passengers and has an upscale and modern feel to it. I love that you can easily find your way around the ship without getting lost. There are tons of activities to do on the ship while you are on your way to the Dominican Republic. We took Yoga classes, drink mixing class, Impact Travel Preparedness Classes, and a Wine and Paint Class.
The Adonia has a full sized library with books and games for all ages. I read a book that I picked up at the Library sitting by the pool.
The food on board and in the Dominican Republic was excellent. We spent most of the time in the dining room at the same table. It was table 11 if you want to check it out for yourself. As with most cruises, you eat far too much. The food was always top notch and some days we indulged with two appetizers or 2 desserts. Some of the meal options were Dominican-inspired and also there were daily vegetarian options.
The three most popular activities were booked up in advance of setting sail. You must book them seven days before sailing to get in. Those activities that are scheduled before sale are the Cacao and Women’s Chocolate Cooperative and Water Filter Production. Our group signed up for Recycled Paper and Crafts Entrepreneurship, Concrete Floors in Community Homes, and Reforestation and Nursery.
Recycled Paper and Crafts Entrepreneurship
During the Recycled Paper and Crafts Entrepreneurship Impact Activity, you get to meet and interact with local Dominican women have formed an association to create and sell arts and crafts from locally recycled paper. The garbage disposal in the Dominican Republic is pretty awful. They burn their trash, and you can just imagine what that is doing to the environment. The RePapel cooperative recycles paper to great cards and stationary, and they create citronella candles made in recycled baby food jars.
The best part of this activity was meeting and interacting with the women at the cooperative. They are incredibly sweet and having a fantastic outlook on life. My general feeling about the Dominican people is that even with all the poverty, they are a jubilant bunch. I feel like they are happier and friendlier than people in the US.
As a Fathom traveler, you help increase production and awareness of the printing and recycling. This support provides income and will ultimately allow the women to expand their association as their business grows. We learned how to make paper from recycling old paper, make candles, wearing with palms, and making jewelry.
Concrete Floors in Community Homes
One of the gals in our group laid concrete floors for a single Father in the community. Fathom coordinates with Iddi (a Dominican social help organization) to determine the need for concrete floors. She told us how she felt like she was helping because she was able to see the family in need. The locals also helped with the process as well. This activity costs $20 per person. That cost directly pays for the concrete floors being laid in the homes.
Right now, most of the households in the Dominican Republic have dirt floors. The laying of concrete can help families avoid sickness and germs.
Not everyone has to lay concrete. If that is too much work for you, you can contribute to painting the house, fixing broken furniture, cleaning and improving the outside surroundings, making improvements to common areas in the community, or planting trees. I wish I had known this beforehand because I would have done something less strenuous on this impact activity.
We helped with reforestation by planting Mangroves along a river bank to help keep the sand along the bank in place. Reforestation helps restore degraded land and contributes to forest and wildlife conservation throughout the region.
Not All Work & No Play
The week-long trip was filled with work, but also lots of play. It felt like a vacation most of them time because I was able to relax by the pool, eat great meals, dance with my friends and even do some touristy type excursions in Puerto Plata. We took the Teleferico Puerto Plata Cable Car up the mountains. It was amazing getting to see how beautiful the country is from that height. It was an interesting contrast from seeing impoverished settings on the ground like in the area of the Re-Papel factory.
We also climbed and slid and jumped down seven waterfalls. The Damajaqua Cascades (27 Waterfalls) was an epic experience that I am so glad I did with my friends! Augusto was our guide, and I highly recommend him if you are going to take this adventure.
Fathom Travel is something that I would do again, and I still feel the impact on my outlook on my life at home from experiencing this amazing adventure. You can follow along with other people traveling with Fathom by following the hashtag #TravelDeep on your favorite social media.
I would like to thank Michelle of Modern Boca Mom and enactus Chapter at Flagler College for helping to make this trip happen. Also, thanks to Erika of Essentially Erika and Michelle of Modern Boca Mom for contributing photos for this post. Love you both! XOXO