Fathom Said Back On Track, But President’s Blunt Talk Raises Concerns
Carnival’s ‘social impact’ cruise brand fathom got off to a rough start this week.
The 700 pax MV Adonia was scheduled to sail its maiden voyage on Sunday, 10 APR from Miami to the Dominican Republic. But after a Coast Guard inspection found that sliding fire screen doors would be inoperable under battery power if there was a main power loss, the sailing was cancelled, and Carnival was forced to send pax home.
Reports now suggest that the problems have been resolved, and the 17APR sailing will take place as scheduled.
Slightly before the scheduled launch, Cruise Week interviewed President Tara Russell.
Speaking of the cruise that was later cancelled, she stated: “This Sunday’s sailing is a soft launch. We're calling it the maiden voyage. But the inaugural trip when most of the media and VIPs are aboard will happen the week of the 17th. So while I'll be onboard hosting the first couple of days this [week], we'll have a much bigger hoopla the week of the 17th.”
Unfortunately, the hoopla came a bit early.
Cruise Week also reports that several agents who are signed up to travel with fathom in April and May had contacted the publication with concerns related to the line’s readiness – concerns spurred by a note Russell herself sent to partners set to sail on the initial cruises.
It began upbeat enough: “Friends, I can only imagine the mix of emotions you feel as you near fathom's voyage to the Dominican Republic with us."
But the agents contacting Cruise Week were particularly concerned with other aspects of the note. Russell wrote: "If you are feeling overwhelmed, a bit confused, hurried and excited, we can relate. Fathom is a pioneer in social impact travel. This has never been done before. If you're on one of our early trips, you're surely going to feel the bumps and bruises of a new experience."
Reading between the lines, one agent owner, citing the `bumps and bruises’ expressed in the letter, shared her worries that fathom would not be ready for her front line agent to go to the D.R. as planned.
“No. No. No,” responded Russell to Cruise Week on 07APR. “I've built a lot of different start-up companies. So part of what I'm trying to ensure we do is manage expectations. This has never been done before. We're absolutely going to be ready. However, you're never really ready. We're delivering an experience that doesn't exist anywhere else in the world. What that travel agent received was my perhaps not great approach to try to manage expectations.”
The fathom President bluntly told Cruise Week she doesn’t expect Fathom to launch perfectly.
“But we do expect the experience to be perfectly transformative and to actually achieve our objective in the sense that we want to have incredibly fun, engaging, enriching experiences. I know hands down that part we have 1000% succeeded.”