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Carnival launches new cruises that help you give back, not just kick back

New Carnival line called fathom will start cruises with a conscience. First stop: Dominican Republic.

Carnival Corp. has introduced a new cruise brand called Fathom that's all about giving back and making a social impact on the world.

What? You can do something more on a cruise besides kicking back and having fun? That's the idea.

Instead of touting bigger, better, more luxurious cruise ships, the new small-ship line focuses on how passengers can have "authentic, meaningful impact travel experiences to work alongside locals as they tackle community needs," a Carnival statement says.

Fathom, which it renders with a lowercase "f," will begin with weeklong cruises to the Dominican Republic starting in April. About 41% of families in the Dominican Republic live in poverty and access to basic public services such as piped water is limited, a World Bank profile says.

The first project will be in Puerto Plata and will partner with two local organizations, Entrena and the Instituto Dominicano de Desarrollo Integral, or IDDI.

Here's how the give-back works: First, a part of each ticket price goes to the organizations to cover expenses for the project.

Second, passengers spend a few days at sea to prepare for and choose what they want to work on. Options include helping tend to cacao plants at a nursery run by a women's co-op that produces artisan chocolates.

Passengers also may work in schools with local teachers -- either with young students or adults -- or build water filters to provide more people with clean drinking water.

There will be time to walk the beaches and visit its new Amber Cove marketplace and cruise center that opens in October.

Prices start at $1,540 per person, which includes an outside cabin, meals, social impact sessions on board, three onshore activities as well as taxes and fees.

The new Fathom brand will carry passengers from Miami to the Dominican Republic aboard the Adonia, a 710-passenger ship that belongs to another Carnival line, P&O Cruises based in Britain.

Carnival says it hopes to attract those who have never been on a cruise. The company expects half of the new clientele to be parents and their kids who want to connect with countries they travel to in a more meaningful way.

The company also expects Fathom to be a hit with the 20s and 30s crowd as well as adults 50 and older.

Carnival looked outside its company for someone to lead the new brand. Tara Russell, who founded a food production organization called Create Common Good, has been named president of Fathom.

Fathom is the 10th brand of the company that includes its namesake line as well as Cunard, Holland America, Princess, Seabourn and others.

Info: Fathom,  (855) 932-8466 or contact a travel agent

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