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Mission Accomplished, Carnival's Fathom to sail away


Carnival Cruise Lines' 'voluntourism' brand, Fathom, will sail off the scene next year, with its "social impact" activities and shore programs taken over by other Carnival brands.

But that doesn't mean it wasn't a success: Fathom's 2-year run has established a real market for its kind of activities, and it provided Carnival with a head start as the first U.S. cruise line able to sell cruises to Cuba, where visits by U.S. citizens must still meet a "people-to-people" social impact rule by U.S. law.

The ship itself, Adonia, will return to its usual home with Carnival's P&O Cruises in Australia. It's a 704-passenger ship popular with P&O. It's likely to be replaced on the Cuba route by a 2000-passenger Fantasy class ship sailing under Carnival's own name. 

A Carnival Corp. spokesman said: "We have requested approval from Cuba to sail there with our other brands beginning in June 2017. We plan to continue sailing to Cuba for many years to come based on the success of our first cruises to the country which have proven to extremely successful."

The Dominican Republic trips by Fathom have been less popular, and the original plan of alternating DR and Cuba has shifted already to a more Cuba-centric schedule. But the Dominican Republic shore activities, at Amber Cove, have been popular and last month Carnival announced they would be available to passengers from all its brands that stop there.

When Adonia returns to sailing in the South Pacific, her mission may not change that much: Paul Ludlow, a VP of P&O has said "In our region, P&O is sailing to a number of developing countries in the Pacific, adding real economic value to the places that we visit. Carnival Australia thinks there is potential for Fathom's reach and social impact to extend into our part of the world through a shore-tour experience."

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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