As if the poop cruise wasn’t enough, Carnival has come up with a new worst way to travel.
The fathom cruise is a new 7-day cruise to the Dominican Republic, which doesn’t bill itself as a cruise, but rather “a social impact travel experience that happens at sea on a small repurposed ship,” the CEO told BuzzFeed.
According to CNBC, “travellers will work side by side with Dominican school teachers to help students learn English. They will also have the opportunity to work on environmental issues, including helping to build much-needed water filters in communities.”
There will be “three impact activity days on the ground,” according to BuzzFeed.
But don’t call it voluntourism!
Contacted by Business Insider, a spokesperson for Carnival said that once the ship reaches the Dominican Republic, it will remain docked in the same place, “but there are several service activities for the travellers” in that place.
This seems like a step up from a regular cruise. But the problem with “impact travel” or voluntourism is that so often the goal seems to be making the travellers feel good about themselves, rather than focusing on doing good work for others. If a few hours a day of volunteering for three days is all it took to alleviate poverty, it would have been done by now.
Take this quote that the CEO of fathom, Tara Russell, gave to BuzzFeed: “”We make it really easy for a traveller to plug in and have a meaningful impact experience. We want them to see themselves as a giver of themselves on the trip.”
The goal here is for the trip to mean something to the passengers paying upwards of $US1,500 for the experience. It doesn’t matter if it means anything to anyone in the Dominican Republic.
Imagine you are an English teacher in the DR. A mob of American tourists land in your classroom for a day to “have an impact experience.” And then the next week, a new group. Does that actually help any students, or just create chaos?
I’m sure that most people choosing this trip really want to make a difference. But it’s nearly impossible to do anything meaningful in three days’ time, no matter what your intent.
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