Photo by Jason Leppert
When it was first announced that Carnival Corporation’s fledgling Fathom cruise line would stop sailing its Adonia, things at first looked bleak. However, the reality is not so bad. The brand will indeed chug along, as will plans for Carnival to cruise to Cuba in some capacity.
When asked in more detail what that means exactly, Roger Frizzell, SVP & Chief Communications Officer, Carnival Corporation & PLC, responded, “Fathom is continuing, but just in a different form working through all our brands,” adding, “The Fathom experience has been expanded across our many Carnival Corporation brands sailing to the Dominican Republic and beyond, and the Adonia is being scheduled to sail in the UK for the summer season for our P&O guests.”
READ MORE: TravelPulse On Board: Fathom's Adonia Review
In other words, cruise lines operate with hardware and software, and only Fathom’s dedicated hardware is going away, and that’s okay. When I sailed on the Adonia to Cuba, it was apparent to me that the ship was still very much a P&O Cruises vessel anyways with only a subtle overlay of Fathom branding. It was my assessment then that the brand really needed a ship more fully identifiable as Fathom.
But as social impact cruises to the Dominican Republic waned in popularity and ones to Cuba picked up steam, it became clear that an entire ship deployed in the service of volunteer work every other week was less financially feasible to sustain. So, the company took it in another direction for Fathom to be software only, consisting of shore experiences accessible by any ship in the corporation. Now the cruise lines with more established brands can carry the baton of bettering the world, whether that be in the Dominican Republic or even elsewhere.
In fact, Frizzell commented, “Fathom continues to receive some of the highest ratings in the company based on guest surveys, and we hope to expand the Fathom experience to other markets in the future. Fathom has provided such a positive [outlet] for our company and our guests. We are anxious to see it grow and expand in other ways going forward.” And the company will retain its president as he added, “Tara [Russell] will continue to lead the company's efforts to grow Fathom in the DR and other markets.”
As for Cuba, it may seem surprising that Fathom would not want to keep the Adonia on to at least cruise there, but Frizzell explained, “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 [be] extremely successful.”
If anything, this now frees up Carnival to eventually send larger ships to Cuba based on its popularity so long as they still meet the U.S. requirements of people-to-people cultural exchanges over outright tourism. In the meantime, Fathom’s Adonia continues to sail to Cuba and the Dominican Republic up until the summer of 2017.