Impact travel with teens: What to expect on a Fathom cruise

What to expect during at-sea days:

During at-sea days, a Fathom cruise is like any cruise, and at the same time, unlike any other cruise. How it’s like a cruise: you have your pick of activities onboard, from swimming in the pool, snacking, visiting one of the many bars, playing ping pong or foosball, or playing board games in the library. There’s sunbathing on the deck and there’s a fitness center and spa. The Adonia is a small ship, relative to mega-cruise ship sizes, so you won’t find kids clubs on board, or basketball courts and climbing walls. There IS entertainment, but not the Broadway show variety. Instead, kids occupy themselves with ping-pong tournaments, scavenger hunts, and fun ship-wide activities.

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In addition, instead of the usual cruise entertainment, families have their pick of self-betterment and impact-readiness classes to take, both en route to the DR and on the return. These classes include photography courses, productivity classes, and Spanish language classes, to give three examples. In addition to these offerings, there are nightly activities such as scavenger hunts, bands, and card nights. Plus, every Fathom passenger is part of a smaller Cohort group.

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Cohort groups are each assigned an impact guide, who facilitates three main meetings during your time on the ship. You meet him or her on embarkation day, and then again en route to the DR, where you learn together about DR history and culture and what to expect during your time in port and in your impact activities. For example, our cohort group worked together to create a human timeline of DR historical events, each of us holding a card with a significant historical date. On the way back to the Miami, the groups meet up one more time to discuss their experiences in the DR.

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Other than the optional classes and not-so-optional impact group meetings (which are still basically optional, though recommended), there’s a general spirit of curiosity and adventure on a Fathom trip. Fellow passengers tend to greet each other and want to get to know  one another (after all, it’s a small ship), and conversations tend to revolve around what impact activities you’re doing, how they went, and general impressions of the experience. While at sea, we played in the pool, hung out with friends, and sun bathed, but we did all these things with a sense of purpose and a keen interest in adventure. It’s hard to describe, but this feeling is tangible on a Fathom cruise.

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I definitely spent time in the fitness center onboard, which was spacious and included more machines and free weights than I’d anticipated. Complimentary yoga and meditation classes are held each day, as well as spin classes you can pay for. Attached to the fitness center is the spa, which includes a locker room and steam room area that’s free for all guests (have a steam while at the fitness center). The spa includes a private adult-only pool deck and small pool, plus massage treatment rooms and a salon. You can get a spa day pass for under $25, or you can get a week-long spa pass, which gives you access to all these facilities, a great option for cruise guests who don’t want to deal with all the children at the main pool. I didn’t try the spa services, but heard they were high quality and of good value.

What to expect in terms of dining:

Dining on board the Adonia is not what I’d call gourmet. However, it’s also not what I’d call ‘bad’ all-inclusive food, either. There’s a definite mixture on board, which I’ll explain. Let’s start with the basics. Open just about all the time and a hit with kids, the Conservatory is the buffet dining option, and it’s just ok (for adults…kids seemed happy). It’s convenient, it’s nearly always open, and it’s quick. Then there’s the Pacific Restaurant, which is the sit-down option that’s still included in your cruise cost. In my opinion, it’s a big step up from the buffet. We loved eating at the Pacific, and I appreciated that the menu varied greatly day to day, and always featured regional foods. Lastly, there’s  the Lido Deck Cafe, which has grab-and-go burgers and other quick-serve items, including quite a few Dominican and Cuban specialities, right by the pool.

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There is also the Ocean Grill, which is the up-charge dining option. For $25 a person (plus the cost of drinks), you can dine here with a reservation. We never felt the need, and decided to spend our money elsewhere on the ship. Lastly, there’s no fewer than seven bars on board, all of which have their own personality. These all serve drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) that you pay for a la carte. Here are a few tips:

  • Water, iced tea, and lemonade are always included with your cruise cost. Juice is also available in the mornings.
  • Coffee and tea area included when ordered at the Pacific Restaurant or Conservatory, but have a cost in the bars.
  • To refill your water bottle, you need to fill a glass at the buffet, then pour the glass of water into your water bottle (this keeps things sanitary)
  • Soda, specialty drinks (like mocktails) and cocktails are all a la carte
  • You can order as much or little at the Pacific Restaurant as you’d like: two entrees, all appetizers, every dessert…
  • There’s always snacks at the Conservatory, even late at night or early in the morning
  • The Crows Nest is the best bar to head to for sports on TV (and kids are welcome)
  • The Glass House is the specialty wine bar, and one of the prettiest areas of the ship. With every glass of wine, tapas are served, and they’re great. Consider this a solid afternoon snack or even a light late lunch.
  • Raffles is the specialty coffee bar

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Up next, what to expect at port and during impact activities on a Fathom cruise!

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About the author

Amy Whitley

AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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