Carnival Is Taking Its Social Impact Cruises To Cuba

Carnival didn't waste any time getting to Cuba. And added a CSR component to boot.

Carnival will be the first cruise line to sail to Cuban shores when the line launches in May 2016 as part of its new fathom brand of “social impact travel.”

Fathom (lower case “f”) launched last month offering passengers the experience of traveling alongside locals and growing partnerships that will ultimately benefit the communities they visit. The company even brought in a new executive, Tara Russell, the founder of Create Common Good, as president of fathom and global impact lead for Carnival.

“Travelers will work in partnership with proven, trusted local organizations on the ground to amplify their missions for far greater, sustained impact,” Russell said in a press release statement. “Because fathom will bring hundreds of travelers to a destination on a regular basis, fathom can achieve focused and holistic, collaborative contributions in a broad region of the country – allowing fathom travelers to make a collective, transformative impact that they know will extend far beyond their involvement.”

Puerta Plata in the Dominican Republic was the company’s first partner. (Separately but important, the DR has been in the news for its forced deportations of Haitians most recently.)

Now the company has announced that it’ll be heading off to the travel hot spot of the moment, Cuba.

According to that press release: “Carnival Corporation intends to operate fathom travel itineraries directly to Cuba for the purpose of providing cultural, artistic, faith-based and humanitarian exchanges between American and Cuban citizens. Authorized under current U.S.-to-Cuba travel guidelines, the new Cuban itineraries on fathom will strictly comply with U.S. Department of Treasury rules that allow licensed travel companies to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in activities that support the Cuban people.”

The price for a seven-day trip to the DR is $1,540. To Cuba, it’s $2,990.

Quartz calls this Carnival’s plan to “wheedle” its way into Cuba and it’s hard to disagree with them.

“Putting a social bent on cruises to Cuba is a convenient way of skirting existing US restrictions on what type of travel to Cuba is permitted, which is broken down into 12 permitted travel categories, including cultural and humanitarian exchanges, family visits, sport competitions, educational, religious, professional research, and journalistic activities,” the article says.

There are tons of places in the world, Haiti being the most prominent among them, that can use the sort of help that Carnival and fathom are offering. Coincidence upon coincidence, no sooner have they launched this program, which should get them some good press to start, do they choose to offer their services to the one island that everyone is clamoring to go to. And at almost double the price of the only other announced location.

We would suggest that the cruise company create a blog, Tumblr or Instagram account that showcases the good works that fathom is doing in order to prove they’re not doing exactly what we suspect.