Last updated: 08:00 PM ET, Wed June 29 2016

What to Expect Onboard Fathom’s Adonia

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Jason Leppert | June 29, 2016

What to Expect Onboard Fathom’s Adonia

 Photo by Jason Leppert 

Before Fathom historically embarked to Cuba, its Adonia cruise ship had a history all of its own. It started life as R8 – one of the now defunct Renaissance Cruises’ vessels – and went on to serve as Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess before the namesake was applied to a newer generation and most recently as P&O Cruises’ Adonia.

From the outside the ship sparkles with a bright new paint job and blue and white livery with the abstract anchor and hugging figure symbol applied to the smokestack and oversized on the hull. You can still barely make out the weld marks where the P&O Cruises logo once adorned the stern’s sides, now painted over with the Fathom logotype.

Inside, the ship still sports most of the Renaissance Cruises decor and layout found on other brands’ former ships like Azamara Club Cruises’ pair of vessels before their recent remodel and Oceania Cruises’ now four sister ships, which I’ve sailed on and toured respectively. That means the aesthetic is punctuated with rich dark woods and classically ornate ornamentation, from the atrium to the staterooms.

 READ MORE: Fathom Arrives in Cuba 

The Fathom branding is more or less an overlay but is well applied if not a little out of place in contrast to the existing appointments. I’d be very interested to see what a Fathom-specific ship would look like. If the concept takes off in both Cuba and the Dominican Republic, there’s always a possibility of a new-build in the future. Meanwhile, vibrantly colored panels of affirmations and positive quotes fill the ship, and curiosity boxes containing similar content invite discovery, the effect of which is more casual and playful than the original ship atmosphere.

From observation, the ship mostly continues to operate as a P&O Cruises ship. Its sunburst symbol still adorns elevator lobby directories, silverware and the occasional staff member’s epaulets, and the British officers still refer to lifts and use military time. Elsewhere, detailed attention has been given to replacing reminders of the Adonia’s former self. Uniforms are mostly Fathom-specific as far as the impact guides and wait staff are concerned, and branding collateral is on point down to the in-cabin continental breakfast menus.

 READ MORE: TravelPulse Onboard: Fathom Adonia's First-Ever Cruise 

Outside the staterooms, dry-erase marker signs display the guest names, their superpower, spirit animal and “someday” musing, all in keeping with the brand’s voluntourism and cultural immersion mission to change the world one person at a time. Even bathroom toiletries are Fair CosmEthics varieties with fair trade ingredients. Unfortunately, however, the postage-sized cabin showers from the Renaissance days also carryover as does the ship’s great observation lounge and library which make up for it.

Overall, the Fathom experience is an impressive one. The staff is very friendly and attentive, from the leads to the cabin stewards, and the cultural programming is fantastic. Entertainment is sparing, so production shows give way instead to itinerary-relevant film screenings, history lessons and briefings, and onboard events include fishing for messages in a bottle containing messages from previous cruise guests for future ones like suggestions to try and speak the local language even if you aren't fully proficient.

Other nice Fathom touches throughout include a “Share Your Story” video booth, a sort of casual confessional where you can record your thoughts and experiences from the cruise and a comment board asking a “Question of the Day.” In fact, during briefings it’s not uncommon for a question to be posed to the participants to share their adventures ashore with fellow guests to interact more closely with each other as the experience is altogether more communal. And it certainly has been a wonderful experience to join in the fun.

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