Is Fathom Carnival Corp’s Stepping Stone Into Cuba?

Cruise Week

One of the points emphasized by Carnival Corp. in its introduction of the fathom brand is that its creation is both market-driven and inspired by the concept of helping out people in need.

“Our goal is, #1, to do good and, #2, to have it be a self-sustaining good business model," CEO Arnold Donald told Cruise Week.

Perhaps it is that business emphasis that led to speculation from some readers that fathom's very structure could qualify as a means for Carnival Corp. to be ahead of its competitors in getting a foothold in Cuba for the U.S. travel market.

Indeed, part of fathom's 1st mission is in the Puerto Plata region of the Dominican Republic. It's less than 400 km between Cuba and Puerto Plata. “Could this be a stepping stone towards a people-to-people Cuba program?" asked one reader. “Adonia has a shallow draft even for a 30K ton ship, at just between 5-6 metres. She should easily be able to dock in Havana harbour."

But in the meantime it's the Dominican Republic, and Carnival Corp's explanation for locating the 1st project there is certainly convincing. “What made Puerto Plata especially interesting to us is the fact that there are established entities doing very successful work there," says Donald.

Fathom President Tara Russell adds, “We feel super grateful to have strong Dominican partners that have been deeply impacting the country for 30 years. We're very, very intentional about the quality of our partners. We know that we would not be able to have the deep transformative impact we are having were it not for those partners."

In short, it's not the geography driving the decision but the ability of the partners on the ground to get the job done right.

“We don't believe you can change the world in 7 days," says Russell. “We do believe that our long-term systematic approach and partnership with the Dominican can make a significant and enormous impact that is not possible in other more fragmented efforts [elsewhere]."

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