Have you Ever Heard of Social Impact Travel?
Guest Blogger: Monique Van Gelder, National Marketing Manager for Cruiseabout Australia
Recently, Monique was fortunate enough to cruise to the Dominican Republic from Miami aboard the new cruise ship Fathom. Here is what she thought about her experience onboard the first volunteer focused cruise ship.
After spending a week on Fathom, I was reminded of a quote from The Blind Side when Leigh Anne Touhy was sitting in the fancy restaurant with her friends & her friend Beth said… "Honey, you are changing that boy’s life" & Leigh Anne replies & says, "No, he is changing mine". This is what a week on Fathom feels like, it is a holiday designed to create life-changing experiences for those in the Dominican Republic & you might just find that it impacts your life for the better as well.
Carnival Corporation launched Fathom cruises on April 17th with the concept to transform thousands of lives of those living in Dominican Republic & Cuba. Unlike other styles of cruising the onboard program is designed to take you out of your comfort zone, it will challenge you to learn new skills & empower you to take charge of your life in new & positive ways through workshops like “The Story of You” designed to help you build & tell your story, “Spanish Phrases” designed to help you speak with the locals in Spanish, “Empowering English Tutoring” a compulsory workshop so that you can teach locals English through the on shore program, “Wheel of Life” an Ashoka (social innovators) program designed to help you find balance in your life & there a plenty more activities designed to provide positive impact in your life. At night the ship comes to life with deck parties like Super Power Party & Outdoor Games Night.
On the ground in the Dominican Republic you are given the opportunity to do social impact activities as part of the cruise fare these activities include Teaching English with School Students or Community English with intention to improve locals level of English which will assist with job prospects in the Tourism Industry, the largest industry in the Dominican Republic. I elected to do the Student English & taught to fantastic children, Aneska & Edison. Both had very different levels of English & at the end of the class, both could introduce themselves & tell me how they felt with the expression words we had taught. Other activities include paper making using recycled paper with the Repapel ladies who are mainly middle aged woman & often the sole income earners of their household.
On the day we were there, they let us know that they would normally make 150 pieces of paper & our group assisted to make 350 pieces of paper which will be sold to local businesses. After talking with many fellow passengers who participated in other activities like Nursery & Reforestation, Cacao & Woman’s Chocolate Co-operative, Water Filter production, Concrete Floors in Community Homes. They all felt the same that they had really made an impact. One story shared with me that comes to mind is from someone who participated with the Concrete Floor activity, where they put concrete floors into the poorest communities, this activity is important as the basic dirt floor is a genuine health risk & in the rainy season it remains damp & wet. The passengers who did this activity said that their family was so poor & wanted to give something to those that helped so he had every stand in a circle so he could say a pray for them, which was really sweet gesture & really touched those who were involved.
The ship is a 700 person renaissance class ship from the P&O UK fleet, it is beautifully appointed small ship with it’s renaissance style fixtures & old world paintings. Throughout the ship it has been Fathomised with bright colour photography, positive quotes & inspirations. The gift shop has also been over hauled from your traditional cruise gift shops to offer socially responsible or sustainable products. I did purchase a couple items from the gift shot which included some thongs from the Gandy’s brand, helping Orphans in Sri Lanka & a knit sweater from Krochet Kids, each piece is handmade & signed by the child that has made it.
Overall this experience was amazing, totally different to any other cruise I have done & I would recommend it to everyone who is looking to make a positive impact in someone's life & enrich their own life while on holidays & what better places to do it than Cuba or the Dominican Republic.
Monique Van Gelder is the National Marketing Manager for Cruiseabout Australia.
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