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fathom is NOT your Grandmother’s Cruise!!!

fathom Travel is NEW – really really new. The concepts that are the backbone of fathom are NEW – and the leadership at fathom is re-inventing cruising as we know it – the structure of this cruise has questioned the “rules” of cruising. In the words of Vishen Lakhiani, fathom is not operating under the established BRULES of cruising – they are not blindly following the idea that a cruise “MUST” do, be, provide, …. Because “that’s the way things are.” It is a refreshing change in an industry saturated with standard 7-day cruise to a private island paradise.

A photo posted by TravelLikeAnArchitect (@bellesworldtravel) on Jun 11, 2016 at 8:51am PDT

WE (Lynn and Rob) were some of the first people to partake of the fathom Travel Experience. We sailed on the THIRD cruise to the Dominican Republic, May 8-15, followed immediately by the SECOND cruise to Cuba, May 15-22. As one would expect, new and first mean wrinkles and issues. fathom is up-front and honest about this – another FIRST in the cruise industry. They let us ALL know they are a NEW line with a NEW concept, and are a Work in Progress.

In FULL support of the fathom mission, and as requested by a few of the staff members, Lynn and I are providing an outline for:

What fathom Travel is doing RIGHT!

  1. Partnering with P&O to use the Adonia.

  2. This older ship is READY for branding with fathom Impact Cruising. It is older, but not worn out. The areas that have been fathom branded are GREAT – Main Entry, Store, Postcards.

  3. The room number/signs are the BEST!! Use the marker to write your name, and other cool facts / messages for the other passengers.

  4. Small Ship Cruising at its best.

  5. Promotes interaction among guests and among guests and Impact Guides and Guests and Entertainment.

  6. Above is fostered with the casual and open seating in the main dining room. First time EVER we could not get a table large enough for our group of 16!

  7. Getting on and off the boat, IN GROUPS, is quick, easy, and painless.

  8.  The staff is flexible and able to adapt to fathom’s new concept in cruising.

  9. Card system does NOT require staff to touch your card going on/off of the ship!!

  10. Security is REASONABLE. No back-pack Crazies.

  11. Liquor was not confiscated. This helps the local economy!! And gave us extra money to splurge in the Ocean Grille.

  1. Partnering with P&O to use the Adonia.

  2. Simplified pricing. 3 price “seasons”. 3 (4 if your count suites) room types = only 9 typical fares.

  3. Secret:  Obstructed ocean view are priced as insides.  Obstructed balconies are priced as ocean view.

  4. All Inclusive – Shore excursions (ie: Impact Activities, People to People Experiences) as well as on-the-ground meals are in the base price.

  5. Cuban Health Ins. IN the base price.

  6. Taxes, tips, and Visa are not in the base price – but COULD be. And they are CLEARLY spelled out in all the literature.

  7. They follow this “KISS” principle. No tricks!!

  8. AND….  thru the rest of this summer they have offered us some DEAL DEALS DEALS!!!!

Cuba regularly starts at $1,899.00 – CALL us for select rates starting at   $799.00

Dominican Republic starts at $999.00 – CALL us for select rates starting at $499.00

 HOT HOT HOT – JUNE 19, & July 3, 2016 STARTING AT $249pp

CALL:   607-Get-Away   815-516-0300

combined logos

Click image to see dates and rates. Book on-line, or PLEASE call, message, etc., to ASK for more information. This is NOT your Grandmother’s Cruise = Know Before You Go. We have been-there and done-that.

  1. Partnering with P&O to use the Adonia.

  2. WONDERFUL food

  3. Dominican Dishes EVERYWHERE.

  4. Fantastic Burger and Wings for quick bite to eat.

  5. Pizza for comfort food.

  6. Buffet had FULL or light fare for Lunch or Dinner

  7. Specialty Restaurant has Gourmet Dining with service second to none.

  8. On Deck BBQ – Sea Days!

  9. And, that great on-ground lunch program.

  1. Impact Guides. Great idea. People TRAINED to guide your Cruise Vacation Experience. A more serious, and WORKING version of the Cruise Director Staff.

  2. Shout out to Katie and Colin who are leading the effort – and extra kudos to Katie who Sings and Did Story of You in her free time! ps. We also found her changing the post cards to yourself from Cuba to DR on Sunday Morning. Does she sleep??

  3. Our top THREE favorite Impact Guides: Greg, Jeff, and Fransisco – we had to limit to three as we initially had ALL of them listed!

  4. Kudos to Emily who lead our cohort group – The “Chill Group” great job keeping the conversation rolling on track…

  5. Sorry, but we did not get a photo of ALL the guides on OUR trip.  The two below have MOST of them.

  6. Specialized training. Nice Slides!

  7. Work WITH the on-ground entities. (IDDI, Entrena, Havana Tours, etc.)

  8. Getting to know….. Cuba, DR, Activity, Customs, etc.

  9. fathom, What’s Next wrap-up bring closure to your trip.

  10. Impact Statistics for our group, and to-date (up to date on website). You KNOW what you did.

  11. Impact Programming

  12. Curiosity Atlas and Asoka Fellows Workshop are nice programs.

  13. We DID: Story of You; Visual Storytelling; Social Innovation in Action; and…

  14. Our Favorites: Design your life of impact; Curiosity Advantage; Raising the Next Generation of Changemakers; Travelers of fathom;

  15. Other Activities we did not do – Because Lack of Time: Wheel of Life; Lifehack Bootcamp; Empowering English; Spanish Phrases; Storyfest / Story Circle; and, let me know if we missed one.

  1. Sail Away Parties

  2. Music. Local Craze Band and Guest Artists from Cuba and Dominican Republic

  3. Find The Craze Band  <here>  on Facebook

  4. Outside, On the Deck, By the Pool, and WELL programed!

  5. Fit into the schedule of activities – at the “right time”, so never missed one.

  6. Food available. Meal or snacks.

  7. Dancing.

  8. Guide Assisted / and Encouraged.  Staff participated, and had fun too.

  9. Initial Sailaway = fathom Launch Event

  10. Remove a note in a bottle from the pool. Note has “advice” for your trip (see Super Power Part Below)

  11. Send a note, on a string, from the upper level to a stranger below. Ask them to dinner, introduce yourself, and INTERACT

  12. WRITING ON THE GLASS!! Answer a question. Ask a question. Learn and Grow.

  13. Where are you from? Get a Polaroid photo (yes these are back) and put it on the map on the wall.

  14. Passport – a gimmick to get you to participate in all these activities.

  15. FYI: This is big, fun, and great. We did not understand it was DURING the first sailaway, and would not happen again. We FULLY understood the activities, the short time to do them, and fully participated the second week.

Where is everyone from?

Where is everyone from?

  1. Postcards to Self

  2. Photo Booth

  3. This is are the hot!! Especially among Millenials – No party can happen without one!

  4. YES, our video was even emailed to us.

  5. Fare Trade Shops

  6. Wood watches and Wood Glasses – WAY cool.

  7. fathom branded shirts – inaugural cruise, month, and year!!! SWEET Sale Price was Spot On.

  8. Every item in the store has a “Story” just ask!

  9. Library

  10. WELL stocked with GREAT books.  Books about the destinations and personal growth.

  11. Nice selection of games.

  12. Easy to use and check-out.

  13. Two computers WITH a printer!! Just in case…!

  14. Ship Activities ALL free/included!!!

  15. DAILY Yoga

  16. TWICE Daily Meditation

  17. Movie Night ON DECK!!!!

  18. Dance Class with Garcia and Laura –  <click here>  to see a video of THEM.  Connect with Laura on Facebook  <here>

  19. Domino Throwdown

  20. Karaoke and “Bandeoke” (sing with the band) how cool is that?

  21. Giant Outdoor Games

  1. Super Power Party (a wrap up to the trip and final night at Sea Party)

  2. Temporary fathom logo Tat’s!

  3. Capes

  4. BIG Games

  5. Band

  6. Karoke

  7. ON DECK, outside!

  8. Write a note, to go in a bottle, for the next cruise.

  9. Learn what your personal super power is!

  1. On Deck BBQ

  2. Cooked on deck

  3. Served on deck

  4. Able to eat – ON DECK

  5. Music, eating, entertainment

  6. Wish it had been twice

  7. Dress Code

  8. Nice CASUAL atmosphere comfortable after a long (HOT) day.

  9. LOVE the shorts in the Main Dining. Snappy, but comfortable! Because casual doesn’t have to mean dumpy.

  10. Impact Guide outfits!!! Sweet!  The pin tuck shirts – our favorite!

  11. Overall felt welcome and comfortable doing all activities

  12. Wine and Paint

  13. LOVE that ANYONE can make a nice painting following the guide.

  14. Painting is THEMED to the cruise.

  15. FREE!!!   (except for the wine)

  1. fathom APP

  2. GREAT idea. Worked second week for Cuba. Even better idea for DR as there are SO MANY activities during the week.

  3. Works for free on Ship Wi-Fi with NO package.

  4. It is designed to register you for activities – version 1.1 coming soon…..

  5. Entertainment

  6. One band, or Six? A nice way to showcase musicians, AND for guests to get to know them. Craze Band is a 5 piece  pop band, or 3 piece jazz, or piano and guitar duo, or piano, or guitar, or…..?

  7. Kay on vocals, Dave on Keyboard, Phil on Bass, Johnny on Guitar, and Joe on Drums

  8. LOCAL, and REALLY authentic local entertainment. They came on the ship, performed, (sailed WITH US in Cuba), and talked, shared, and enjoyed our time sharing their talents.

  9. BANDEOKE!!! One of the Most FUN, and unique Ideas in a LONG time.  Anyone can sing with the Band!

  10. Katie Sings!!

  11. Deck 5 Piano!!! – Guests are ENCOURAGED to play. And some did!

Katie Singing

Katie Dow Singing. Accompanied by the Guitarist from the Craze Band.

What fathom Travel is Doing RIGHT – in Amber Cove and Cuba

There is simply NOT enough room, here, to go into details about ALL of Amber Cove, or Cuba.  What follows is a BRIEF summary HIGHLIGHTING some of the best.  Subscribe to our blog, as we go into more detail with Each Impact Activity, Each Port of Call, and the PEOPLE.   Because…..  the one thing these two places have in common is:  THE PEOPLE!!!  Everyone, everywhere was helpful, friendly, and welcoming.  We worked, ate, and talked with locals about children, politics, and the weather.  We learned about them, and they about us.  Keep reading our future blogs, OR….  ….better yet – CONTACT us and GO!!

  1. On Ground Activities

  2. Nice group sizes. Only half a bus, but really NECESSARY for enjoyment of all.

  3. Decent transportation. A/C, newer busses.

  4. Knowledgeable guides who SPOKE English.

  5. FOOD & BEVERAGES. All great, authentic food. And it often came with entertainment.

  6. In Cuba, appreciated the ability to go with the group, or leave the group, or rejoin the group. Best of BOTH types of activities. Twice we sat with locals and bought a round of drinks while just TALKING – TRUE people to people. Instructions, and staff encouragement, to check TWO boxes in the affidavit.

– Dominican Republic (remember to look for MORE posts on Amber Cove and the Impact Activities we participated in)

  1. Amber Cove

  2. HUGH pool with only 1 ship in port the whole time.

  3. FREE water slide

  4. Zip Line all day pass is affordable – $12

  5. Swim-up Bar

  6. Hammocks

  7. Over-Water Cabanas

  8. Hot Tub Cabanas

  9. Bike Taxis on the Pier for those not wanting to walk.  They ride for tips.

  10. Duty Free Liquor – Liquor was not confiscated. This helps the local economy!!

  11. Looking for a fun day on your own.  Try Damajaqua Falls.  <Click Here>  to learn more.

  1. Impact Activities

  2. We Did: Re-Forestation in the nursery; RePapel; Chocoal; and Concrete Floors; Signed up for, but were too beat by end of the trip (and because we had another week in Cuba) to do English. 🙁

  3. IDDI, the on ground partner, is WONDERFUL. Know the facts, and speak good English.

  4. One of the Impact guides comes on the bus WITH you to assist in the experience.

  5. SMALL group size is GREAT.

  6. Ladies at Repapel MADE this!! My friend, Clarabell, who got me dancing.

  7. Concrete floors We MADE A DIFFERENCE. Our “family” of Seven, living with an infant soon to be toddler will enjoy their clean, sanitary floor.

  8. Concrete and RePapel we really CONNECTED with the local people.

  9. FOOD FOOD FOOD. WOW!! Meals on the ground were the best. True, local, plenty, and delicious.

  10. Bottled Water. Cold, available, easy access, lots of it, and FREE/Included.

  11. Nice Vans. Clean. A/C.

  12. Reasonable trip length – EASILY less than an hour at any one time.

SUNSETS!!! Some of the best. (We hear the sunrises are just as great)

Snag a balcony,  grab a drink, and get ready for dinner while enjoying the best view we have seen in over 160 sea days.


In the Dominican Republic this is your reward for giving back. Photo taken from our balcony. We got one EVERY night!

– CUBA (remember to look for MORE posts on Cuba and the People to People Activities we participated in)

  1. Havana Day 1 – Walking

  2. Nice, big, famous City. LOTS to see.

  3. The Old Cars of Cuba (and new ones too).   <Click Here>  for a video of cars……  Or  <Click Here>  to read more.

  4. Appreciate getting to exchange money ASAP

  5. LOCATION of the ship is AMAZING. You step right off the ship and right into the Old City.

  6. WALKING TOUR – a must do. And in our opinion the ONLY way to “do” Havana.

  7. And, EXPLORE.  <Click Here>  for a video of a church concert we “stumpled” into.

  8. Liked the NON-shopping on the walking tour. Plenty of time after for those who WANTED to shop on their own.

  9. The meal here was Good, and DRINKS!!! 4 complimentary ones. 🙂 Best part was the band!  Video coming soon!

  10. Food second day Havana was our favorite (Paladar Fontana). Santiago de Cuba least favorite but good (buffet style).

  11. Guide did a great job, when you could hear him. Hard to keep a group moving in this busy, active, city.

  12. LOCAL treats. Guide helped us buy peanuts and churos. Typically these vendors take old Cuban money, but he was there to help make the transaction, such that these vendors benefited economically from our presence.

  13. Favorite stop on the tour – the Art Coop.

  14. Favorite stop, we did on our own, the bell tower.  <click here>  for a video

  15. For Architect buff’s, don’t miss the Orthodox Church.

  16. Recommend EVERYONE invite a local into a restaurant to sit down for a drink.


YES, Virgina…… THIS IS CUBA!!! What a Surprise for most of us. Havana is a modern looking CITY!!

  1. Havana Day 2- Bus Tour, Day 2 covered A LOT of ground.

  2. Water on the Bus, FREE. A must have.

  3. Our first paladaria. YUMMY. Outdoor/patio eating. GREAT appetizers. And another band.

  4. Art Museum was “nice”, but the area around was better. We appreciate being able to leave and meet the group outside.

  5. Our favorite was the Cemetery. We appreciate being able to walk while others sat in the A/C. Cemeteries MUST be walked.  Monuments so big they are Architecture!

  1. Cienfuegos

  2. FANTASTIC Architecture.

  3. CLEAN city.

  4. NICE, friendly, helpful, people.

  5. NO need for busses here. We took the bus to the square, and met up at the END of the day for a 4-block ride back to the ship. Wonderful small town to WALK, WALK, WALK.

  6. Our favorite group activity was seeing the local ration store, pharmacy, and market.

  7. Our favorite, on our own activity, was the Palacio Ferrer – a mansion that is being restored.  Climb to the top of the turret!

  8. And….   we enjoyed the construction / restoration of the old Church.

  9. Thoroughly enjoyed all the vendors on the “street” back to the ship.

  1. Santiago de Cuba

  2. Trip to the square on a the bus was convenient, but not necessary.

  3. Santiago City Center was nice, but the small plaza where we re-boarded the bus was GREAT.

  4. Best on our own we saw a WONDERFUL look-out, and bought a $0.70 CUC beer with a local.

  5. Nice afternoon bus trip near the end of the day/trip.

  6. Drove thru the countryside

  7. Saw some modern buildings – YES, they have them too.

  8. Talked to construction workers – more “modern” construction methods.

  9. HUGH buffet for lunch.

  10. Treated to a mini show!!

  11. Best with the group was the Fort  <San Pedro de la Roca Castle>

  12. Of course the morning arrival (yup, we listened to the Captain and were on-deck at 7:30) thru the narrow passage, by the fort, was the BEST

  13. Spent the last of our money at the vendors outside the fort.

  1. Santa Ifigenia Cemetery!!! This one topped Havana. We were lucky to be there for the Changing of the Guard.

  2. Bacardi’s pyramid mausoleum.

  3. Glad to have walked this.

  4. José Martí’s tomb.

  5. Learned that many of Cuba’s early heroes were Masons!

  6. On our own we visited a local school where the band was setting up for class.

  7. Ate a local corn cake from a street vendor. YUM. And made a friend.

fathom Travel is DOING it RIGHT!

In summary. We heard about Cuba LONG before the Dominican Republic. We had secured our spot on Cruise 2 (we did not “rank” cruise 1) having applied during the Thanksgiving 2015 Holiday Weekend. We added the Dominican Republic about 6 weeks prior to our Cuba Cruise. In the end we were MOST touched by the Dominican Republic and Impact Activities. We look forward to more normalized relations with Cuba and a carry over of Impact to Cuba. For now, our recommendation is do BOTH!!! In the industry its called B2B, or Back-to-Back. It will be the best two weeks of your life. AND, perhaps you will be motivated to do as Lynn and I – put in an application to WORK with fathom on-board the Adonia helping others – wish us luck…..

We hope you have found this post helpful!

Please feel free to call us  or ask a question in the comments.

We love to share our expertise and have not yet written it all here!

Rob and Lynn Belles are seasoned World Travelers

Gathering up the best experiences on Earth to share with you

for the purpose of inspiring you to go into the world with peace and kindness to learn about the rest of humanity………..

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