• Cheryl Bowie, CTA

Volunteering + A Cruise = Fathom Part 2

Updated: May 9

Fathom has created an amazing agenda that combines cruising with opportunities to serve in the Dominican Republic (DR). Of course, I was excited to finally go on the May 22nd cruise, they are using a P&O Cruise ship called Adonia. It can carry up to 710 travelers which in the age of floating cities, this ship is a very small town. Given the nature of the cruise, the size lends itself to a warm, amicable atmosphere. The majority of the activities (on the ship) strive to bring down barriers in order to promote dialog with other travelers, staff, and crew. Also, some of the on-board activities are for people with no previous experience with service to others.


We taught English at an elementary school during one of the Impact activities on the Fathom cruise in the Dominican Republic.
Student English Conversation & Learning Group

The Impact Activities

You can choose how many or how few impact activities you do. I participated in 5 of the 7 activities offered by Fathom, all of their current ones are listed below. The product related impact activities are divided into steps and you (hopefully) will experience each in the process.

1. Cacao and Women’s Chocolate Cooperative

Do you love chocolate? If so, this activity is a must.

The Steps

a. Remove bad cacao beans,

b. Remove shells from chopped cacao beans,

c. Put prepared chocolate into molds,

d. Package the chocolates.

The best part was putting the prepared chocolate into a mold. If you do it right, you’ll end up with chocolate all over your hands. Which means you get to lick your hands clean. That chocolate was delicious. (There are sanitation products available to use, so you will not be contaminating the products.)

2. Water Filter Production

Loved making the actual clay filter, I could have done that all day.

The Steps

a. Prepare the raw materials for the clay,

b. Knead 2 pieces of clay together for the mold,

c. Prepare clay for the press to form the filter,

d. Create the filter,

e. Prepare dried filter for kiln,

f. Test each filter,

g. Package filter,

h. Distribute filter.

The best part of this activity was we were the first group to deliver the tested water filters to 3 families.

3. Recycled Paper and Crafts Entrepreneurship

The whole paper making process was fascinating, fun, and brilliantly simple.

The Steps

a. Manually shred recycled paper,

b. Wash that paper in a washing machine,

c. Liquefy the washed paper in a blender,

d. Pour that pulp into a basin,

e. Dip a wired frame into the mixture,

f. Flip out the paper to dry,

g. Roll the paper to smooth it out.

4. Community English Conversation & Learning

This was really a good challenge. Our group was randomly divided and matched with our adult students, the lessons are done in their homes. A manual was provided, and we were told which lesson to teach. Sandy (another Fathom traveler) and I went to Emelda’s home to teach her and her friends English. I taught Juana and her daughter Sandra.

5. Student English Conversation & Learning

The same manual is used for teaching the students. As with the Community English, you are told which lesson to teach. I thought Community English was an excellent preparation for teaching the students at the elementary school. I was totally surprised when the leads played “Uptown Funk” as the students entered the classroom. I love that song, it was a good icebreaker to help people relax. Our group taught in the same classroom. My student for the first session was Josefina and Aladonia for the second session.

6. Creative Arts, Music and Sports

I did not do this activity, the description is from Fathom.

“Fathom’s commitment to helping make learning fun doesn’t end when school lets out for the summer. As a Fathom traveler, you can be part of an innovative summer program designed to develop creativity, athletic ability, and life skills in a safe and fun environment. (*Summertime Only)”

7. Reforestation and Nursery

I did not do this activity, the description is from Fathom.

“Fathom will also be involved in local reforestation efforts designed to improve the livelihoods of Dominican families, restore degraded land, and contribute to forest and wildlife conservation throughout the region.”


The food on the ship was good. Basically, the Conservatory Buffet and Pacific Restaurant serve the same meals. For a special treat dine at the specialty restaurant, Ocean Grill. Yes, there was a charge for this restaurant, but it was worth it.


I’m sharing this experience with you because it is available to you, your family, your friends, or your group. Contact me to book your DR experience.