The Herman Trend Alert
June 8, 2016
Voluntourism by Sea
For years now, voluntourism (the combination of volunteering and tourism) has been rapidly growing. Organizations like Mission of Hope in Haiti are looking at how to capitalize on travelers' desires to make a difference by building resorts onsite to accommodate dedicated travelers. However, once more Mickey Arison, Chairman, and his team at Carnival Corporation are on the leading edge of thought.
Travel that transforms lives.
Carnival created a new cruise line, Fathom Cruise Lines, dedicated to giving consumers the opportunity to see part of the world by ship and to volunteer in a local community project, currently in one of two Caribbean countries. (Fathom came to our attention, because they are the first cruise line to visit Cuba.) Moreover, Carnival Corporation with its 11 million passengers annually is perfectly positioned to launch this endeavor.
Fathom calls its opportunity to make a difference: "impact travel", because people who participate are making an impact on the local community. They engineer each FathomĒ journey to provide passengers with the chance to "build a community with like-minded travelers, become immersed in another culture, and work alongside its people to create enduring social impact". Connecting with local people in communities gives passengers a unique perspective on the culture of the area, taking advantage of what happens when individual people from diverse cultures work together.
Starting with two countries this Spring
While Fathom began alternating cruises between the Dominican Republic and Cuba in May of 2016, all cruises sail from Miami. Each cruise is seven days in length and features scheduled classes in "changemaking", delivered by representatives of Ashoka, the largest network of social entrepreneurs in the world.
Fathom's New Alliance with Ashoka---clearly a win-win
With the brilliant addition of Ashoka, Carnival has not only added value in the form of programming to the cruise, they have added credibility as well. And Ashoka receives the opportunity to forward its mission of spreading the word on the value of changemaking. The value added by Ashoka includes a variety of different types of activities, as well as workshops, and even a seminar titled "Parenting Changemakers".
Good choices of first countries
While a cruise to the Dominican Republic is very reasonable, starting at $499/person for an inside cabin, at almost four times the cost, the price of seeing Cuba by sea reflects the desirability of the new destination. As the novelty of visiting Cuba fades and there is a lessening of government restrictions, expect Carnival to offer more cruises at more practical prices.
What Fathom means for Voluntourism
While Fathom is the first cruise line to be dedicated to making a difference, it won't be the last. Expect the larger cruise ships to offer "Making a Difference" cruises, where shore excursions will be replaced by the opportunity to "give back to society" in every port. As the Baby Boomers come of age and finally retire, we expect the category of voluntourism to grow very quickly.
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