Adonia docking in Havana
Adonia docking in Havana / Fathom
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Adonia leaving Miami
Adonia leaving Miami / Kristen Boatright
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Cocktail class at The Glass House
Cocktail class at The Glass House / Kristen Boatright
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Anderson's Bar
Anderson's Bar / Fathom
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Ananás and avocado at Ocean Grill
Ananás and avocado at Ocean Grill / Kristen Boatright
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Enrichment workshop
Enrichment workshop / Fathom
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Oceanview Stateroom
Oceanview Stateroom / Kristen Boatright
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Cuban musicians
Cuban musicians / Kristen Boatright
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Fathom Adonia sail away
Fathom Adonia sail away / Kristen Boatright
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Fathom Adonia

Our Ship Review
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

Editor's note: Fathom has ceased operations and is no longer in business.

Adonia is a whole different kind of cruise experience. It's the first ship to sail under the Fathom brand (owned by Carnival), and while the ship itself isn't new, the concept of a "social impact" cruise is groundbreaking. The 704-passenger, recently refurbished ship sails out of Miami to the Dominican Republic and Cuba and, instead of beach days and snorkeling trips, excursions focus on volunteer opportunities, community outreach, and people-to-people tours.

It also attracts a new breed of cruiser. From active older couples to young and eager families, the enthusiasm and excitement is not for parties and booze, but for making a difference and engaging with other cultures. Most conversations on board revolve around social impact activities and interactions with the locals while in port. The staff, some who have backgrounds as Peace Corp. volunteers or are doing dissertations on topics like international economies, share guests' enthusiasm.

What We Love

Ocean Grill: The ship’s specialty restaurant offers twists on Dominican dishes, including pineapple with avocado and traditional mofongo transformed into little beef pâté balls with a cilantro reduction and a garlic consommé drizzle. The restaurant, which has a charge, is open for lunch ($15) and dinner ($25).

The Glass House: The chicest space on the ship can be found on Deck 10 aft. Guests can enjoy wine pairings and hors d'oeuvres, or in the afternoons on sea days, learn to make tropical cocktails from the ship's excellent bar staff at a for-a-fee class.

Curiosity Boxes: This scavenger hunt spans across the ship, and passengers are encouraged to hunt for these little boxes that contain useful information about the Dominican Republic and Cuba, as well as common Spanish phrases and instructions to popular dances.

Best Known For

"Voluntourism" Activities: On Dominican Republic sailings, Adonia docks at Amber Cove and passengers can take excursions beyond the port's pristine enclosures to really see the Puerto Plata landscape and connect with people who live in the community. Whether you signed up for a reforestation excursion or pouring concrete floors for a local family's home, these activities may leave you with a tremendous feeling of accomplishment and camaraderie.

On-Board Activities and Enrichment Workshops: Sea days on both sailings have lectures on a wide variety of topics, from pre-1950s Cuban history to wellness. Film, music, and dance are also big on board. In Havana and Cienfuegos, local bands are brought on board to entertain guests with typical sounds of Cuba.

People-to-People Tours: In Cuba, Fathom operates under U.S. people-to-people guidelines. Walking and bus tours hit many top sites, but the daily excursions are meant to revolve around interpersonal cultural exchange. 

Who It's Best For

Families: While there isn’t a kids club per se, children are encouraged to attend the enrichment workshops. Parents and children also participate in projects together, such as digging to salvage palm seeds. There are also family-friendly evening programs such as movie nights, karaoke, and "Discover Your Super Power" parties.

Solo Travelers: Since the workshops and activities are geared toward community building, it's not hard to get to know other passengers. Performing manual labor with strangers has a way of breaking down barriers and creating new friendships. One thing to note: Fathom's single supplement rate is 150 percent. 

Power Couples: Active duos, from millennials to boomers, will enjoy interacting with those who share similar interests and philosophies at workshops and on excursions. At night, romance can be found lingering over a glass of wine at the modern Glass House or lounging at the maritime-themed Anderson’s. For those seeking to spice up their nights, meringue and salsa classes are taught in the Curzon Lounge.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Most of the Food Is So-So: Destination-inspired dishes in the main restaurant aren't quite up to par and the meal options as a whole are far from spectacular.

It's Old but Steady: While Adonia underwent a three-week refit, it’s still a 15-year-old ship, and the cabins are a reminder of that. Paint in our stateroom bathroom was peeling and the screws on the balcony dividers were rusty and made a racket during windy days at sea. However, one word to the stateroom attendant quickly got someone from maintenance to secure the divider with a wooden peg. 

Know Your Limits: Some activities — such as heavy lifting and digging — require manual labor. Before signing up for an excursion, read the guideline requirements carefully. You don’t want to end up stuck on the sidelines because you couldn't handle a task.

Cuba Is a Quick Trip: It's been a long time since Americans could so easily venture to their island neighbor 90 miles to the south, and there is a lot to see and do. Fathom gives travelers a little sample of the country, but it may leave you wanting more.