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It’s becoming known that Fathom, Carnival Corp’s experiment in “social impact cruising” is having some problems. Specifically, in filling the voyages to the Dominican Republic. (Adonia, Fathom’s ship, alternates 7 night cruises to the Dominican Republic with similar-length cruises to Cuba.)

The point about the trips to the Dominican Republic is that Fathom passengers are supposed to be giving something back. In an earlier post I said that “passengers disembarking in the Dominican Republic may volunteer to work on various projects – provision of drinking water, agricultural projects and involvement in literacy projects have been mentioned“, although these activities are not mandatory. Nonetheless, I understand that the ‘feel’ of the cruise is set by the availability of these activities.

It seems that Fathom have been struggling to fill Adonia for Dominican Republic cruises (there’s no such problems for the cruises to Cuba). I’ve heard (from various different sources) that prices for the 7 night cruises have at times been as low as $250 per person. Now, however, I gather that Fathom is changing its marketing. It will increasingly target churches and private schools, because these are two places that, to put it crudely, are interested in “good works”. Ron Fenska, Fathom’s vice-president of sales, is reported as saying “There is no shortage of different types of groups that travel“. Fathom’s problem so far, I suppose, has been to get to those specific groups.

Well, I wish them luck – it’s a bold and innovative venture. But there must be bean-counters back at Carnival Corp’s HQ in Miami who are wondering. Adonia is an R-ship, and her sisters (sailing with Princess, Azamara and Oceania) are all marketed as luxury ships with prices to match.  It’s hard to find an exact match, but as an example an 8 night ‘around Britain’ cruise on Pacific Princess (another R-ship) is listed at £1399 per person – yes, GBP – for an Inside Cabin, and I don’t think that includes air fares. Yet Fathom are currently advertising an inside cabin on Adonia for $499. I wonder how long Carnival Corp will support that? – especially as a 7 night cruise to Cuba this autumn seems to be on sale for $1200 per person (in an inside cabin).

Here’s a link to an article about Fathom’s new marketing and sales strategy.

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