MIAMI – After a somewhat rocky inaugural year and mixed reviews from passengers, Fathom, Carnival Corporation’s social impact cruise line, is ceasing operations but will remain as a shoreside-only experience in mid-2017.
According to industry reports, the brand’s only ship, the Adonia, will be returned to the P&O Cruises fleet next June.
The news comes on the heels of announced plans earlier this month to expand the Fathom brand’s Dominican Republic social impact experiences to Carnival Corporation’s other cruise line brands sailing to its Amber Cove port of call.
Fathom was launched in June 2015 as a standalone brand focusing on ‘social impact travel’. It initially offered seven-day voyages to the Dominican Republic in April 2016 before adding Cuba as a destination a month later. However, while the brand was seeing demand for its Cuba sailings (an additional two sailing dates were added in September due to high demand), the Dominican Republic wasn’t faring as well (the two new Cuba dates replaced DR voyages). At one point, DR voyages were steeply discounted, with the initial $1,540 ticket price cut to as low as $249.
As the first ship to take passengers on regularly scheduled cruises between the U.S. and Cuba in more than 50 years, it’s not surprising that Cuba outpaced the DR in early bookings. To keep this momentum going, Roger Frizzell, Carnival Corp.’s chief information officer, told Travel Weekly that the cruise company has requested approval from Cuba to sail to the destination with its other brands, beginning next June.
The Adonia will continue sailing its Caribbean itineraries through May. Skift reports that Tara Russell will remain president of Fathom and Carnival Corp.’s global impact lead during the brand’s transition.
Fathom has been plagued not only by low bookings and cancellations (its first cruise to the DR failed to sail due to malfunctioning fire screen doors), but also by lukewarm reviews from travel agents. Said one agent who sailed on a Cuba cruise, it lacked “crucial talks about the ports you’re going to”, and that passengers were confused about how the tours were organized.