One of my New Year resolutions for 2016 was to get more involved with charities and social impact activities–both while traveling and once back home. My yearnings were answered when Andrew Hickey reached out to bloggers to take part of a Fathom volunteering cruise to the Dominican Republic.
Wait a second: volunteering while at sea?! Or during my vacation?
Sounds crazy, but Fathom Impact Travel came up with a sweet formula:
- 2 days chillaxing at sea: right at the start and the end of your trip
- A few activities on board in order to build a community at sea and make the greatest impact once on the ground (a.k.a. organizing the troops)
- 3 days in the Dominican Republic: with both social impact activities and excursions
- Meals on board, and on the ground, included in the cruise fare
Simple, perhaps. However, as with many other volunteering programs, a few of us were skeptical. What kind of change could we possibly make in 3 short days?
So I did some research. Below, a brief summary of what a Fathom volunteering cruise to the Dominican Republic is like.
Fathom Volunteering Cruise Experience: Pre-trip Research
First question I wanted answered, even before I applied for the trip: how will a few hours of my time make a difference on those impoverished communities in the Dominican Republic?
By working with local communities and organizations, Fathom identifies their specific needs and address them with special projects–which are supported by a constant flow of volunteers and investments.
I also found out that Fathom sticks to the same social impact activities, helping the same communities, cruise after cruise.
This means that those hours I spend teaching English to children will make a difference because they will be able to practice what I taught them with the next wave of Fathom volunteering cruisers.
On and on and on. Two weeks a month.
Sounds good, sounds good.
Furthermore, Amber Cove is a brand-new, multi-million-dollar port of call that will be receiving many other cruise ships soon. The proximity of this development to Puerto Plata and nearby communities we will be volunteering at means that these Dominicans could compete for jobs created by that tourism boom.
That’s my own hypothesis, of course, but seems to be a pretty plausible one.
So I booked my trip!
Fathom Volunteering Cruise Experience: Impact Activities and Excursions
I made a mistake I don’t want you to repeat, though.
Once you book, you are sent a code, which is used to register for the Journey Planner of your Fathom volunteering cruise. As soon as you get it, access their site and book your favorite activities and excursions!
Availability of social impact activities and excursions are on a first-come first-served basis. I was having problems with my code, then I got busy and procrastinated contacting their team…
When I finally reached them, most of my favorite social impact activities were full. This means I could only take part of two English teaching workshops.
I was so, so sad 🙁
For each of the 3 days (except day of departure), you get to pick up to two social impact activities: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. You can book as many as two a day or as little as one during your entire stay. Up to you how much time you spend volunteering on this cruise!
While most social impact activities are free, a few of them do carry a small fee: typically used to cover materials needed to help the community.
I reserved mine late, so missed the boat on other cool activities such as a culture and arts camp. Lesson learned!
Luckily, I could pre-book fun excursions around Puerto Plata, Cabarete, and beyond. Because those are not included in the cruise fare, there were still spaces available when I logged in. I reserved a badass power snorkel adventure, where I will ride a cute little motor while enjoying the marine life. Sounds so fun, can’t wait!
I was unsure about other excursions, as perhaps I would like to stick around Amber Cove to relax between activities. No worries though, you can book others once on board.
FOLLOW ME on my first volunteering cruise to the Dominican Republic!
I forgot to mention: I’m taking a flight to Miami TOMORROW and board the Fathom Adonia cruise ship on SUNDAY–so the real fun hasn’t started yet! You’ll get a chance to follow me day-to-day as I catch some sun, relax, and help the good people of the Dominican Republic at the same time.
6/2016 UPDATE! Click here for NEW post of my Fathom cruise experience