The thing about the recent announcement that Fathom was ceasing operations is this: it’s really only half true.
Yes, the cruise line known as Fathom will no longer be. Yes, its sole ship the Adonia will be returned to the P&O fleet. But Fathom, as a concept, lives on.
And in the end, that’s really the only part of Fathom that mattered. The concept. The dream that travel can mean something more than snapshots and sunburns.
When I went on the inaugural Fathom voyage to the Dominican Republic, I was struck by how at odds the aesthetics of Fathom’s sole ship seemed to be with Fathom as a concept. When I wrote my first review on the ship, the image I kept seeing in my head was that of a school bus that had been converted into a tour bus for a punk rock band.
Hopefully that came across in the write-up.
But a ship is a ship is a ship. My big takeaway from the journey was about the experience. It was about walking the streets of Puerto Plata, getting face to face with the people who call it home and doing what small part I can to make their lives, and the world, a little better.
So when the more cynical of my colleagues started predicting an early demise for the cruise line based on price reductions and early reports of flagging interest, I held fast as a supporter. It’s a strange concept. It’s hard to sell at first until people start to realize what a Fathom cruise is and what a Fathom cruise isn’t. Give it time, people will catch on.
And when they announced earlier this month that Fathom experiences would now be added to six additional cruise lines, those same cynics claimed this was a watering down of the brand. That it was the first step toward phasing it out.
I looked at it as Carnival Corp. realizing what they have in Fathom goes way beyond a ship. They have a whole new way of looking at how we travel, and they are being smart enough to spread its message as far and wide as they could.
Judged through that lens, Wednesday's announcement is more akin to a victory for Fathom. No longer tied to a somewhat stodgy ship that only ran two itineraries, Fathom as a movement is now free to spread to all points of the globe.
It’s now possible that the work Fathom did in the DR can be done everywhere, and travelers can have that same moment of kinship with a destination that I had in Puerto Plata.
Dead? As a cruise line, maybe. But as a movement, Fathom’s just getting started.