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  • Writer's pictureJason Leppert

Fathom President Tara Russell Talks Cuba, Global Impact and Dreaming Big

Yesterday, Carnival Corporation received final approval from the Cuban government to sail to the country with its new Fathom brand beginning on May 1, 2016, and I had the pleasure of speaking with Tara Russell, the new cruise line’s president, just last week at Seatrade Cruise Global 2016 to further understand the brand and its development.

Impact Travel

At its core, Fathom is about social impact and offering travelers the opportunity to make a difference volunteering in the Dominican Republic and immerse themselves in the culture of Cuba, each on weeklong roundtrip sailings from Miami, Florida. Russell told TravelPulse, “I think we all have unique superpowers and gifts and talents and abilities that are unique to us, and yet we all need to learn what’s that sweet spot of my gifting and talenting with needs and opportunities in the world, and at Fathom, we do that. We essentially help people unlock their destiny through that experience,” and to additionally affect them when they return home as a positive part of their families, communities and workplaces.

Multiple Generations

Opportunities for so-called “voluntourism” abound in places like the Dominican Republic where Russell says the education system is one of the worst in the world despite progress being made there in other areas. She said, “We’re really working to help empower the future generation of youth through creative education models that keep kids engaged in school but also that bring content.”

Thus, Fathom is a cruise experience that engages multiple generations of travelers, and Russell reflected on a recent experience she had with a boy in the DR that applies: “Jose was 10. I have a son who’s 10. So, I’m picturing my son Tyson at home who…has every opportunity on the planet. He’s part of this gifted education program within the public schools – it’s free, we don’t even have to pay for it – and he has all kinds of books to read. And then I think about this kid Jose who has nothing, but yet he’s the same kid that my son is…

“I mean I’m fortunate to have lived, worked, traveled and built stuff in lots of countries; this isn’t the first time. But it was a powerful moment because it was like seeing both of my lives at once. This child was hesitant with his language, afraid to try to speak English, and my son likes to be perfect. He’d hesitate with his Spanish in the same way. So, I’m picturing as I’m there with this kid, getting all totally emotional, I’m picturing my son coming with me in April, which he will, and I’m just imagining the learning, the shared learning, but also seeing there’s so much same-same in humanity.”


In preparing for the cruise line’s launch in the DR in April, P&O Cruises’ Adonia is being repurposed and is currently receiving its routine overhaul maintenance and what Russell call

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