“¿Que lo que?” “Tranquilo.” This typical Dominican greeting means, “What’s Up?” “Chillen,” and captures the essence of the Dominican culture and its’ people.
Our adventure started when we boarded Fathom Cruise’s Adonia in Miami. Exploring the ship a bit, we found the older cruise ship to have a good balance between old and new. From the antique-like Anderson’s lounge to the modern wine & tapas Glass House, there is something for all ages.
The main pool is flanked by two large Jacuzzis and offers quite a bit a room for all passengers to lounge and sun-bathe—never causing an overcrowding problem the entire trip. In fact, this quaint ship accommodates only 704 travelers, making for quite the personable experience.
The trip begins by setting out on Sunday, cruising at sea on Monday, then arriving into Amber Cove just outside Puerto Plata early afternoon on Tuesday. Fathom has partnered with IDDI (Dominican Institute for Integral Development) to provide impact cruise travel opportunities. Choosing from 6 impact activities with time slots either in the morning or afternoon, Fathom allows for complete flexibility and lets the guests choose which activities they do, how many and at one time.
We chose to do three activities, first the Cacao Women’s Cooperative, then the Planting and Reforestation and the Recycling Paper Cooperative. Tuesday afternoon we disembarked the ship and headed off to Chocal, where single mothers, or mothers with non-working husbands, create organic chocolate from the native cacao. As a Fathom passenger you participate in the complete production cycle: from planting and cultivating the organic cacao trees, to preparing the raw materials, to producing and packaging the final product for sale. By helping to improve the production and increase sales, you help the organization to thrive so it can hire more local women, providing critical income in a region with limited employment opportunities.
The Paper Recycling is similar to the Cacao project in that passengers participate in all the steps of creating organic, recycled paper, all while singing ‘La Bamba’ with the incredibly positive and enthusiastic single moms.
We also participated in the Reforestation and Nursery activity where we planted lemon trees, oak trees and more, while working with some local kids that ran over to join us.
Other activities included: water filter production, concrete floors, creative arts and music, and community English. In total, since Fathom began operating in April, they have planted 8,656 trees, made 49,550 chocolate bars, built concrete floors in 16 homes helping 111 people, made 3,851 sheets of recycled paper, crated 316 filters helping 1,500+ people have clean water for 5+ years, and completed over 13 hours of English for 728 learners. Truly an incredible feat in only a mere few months, all the while helping families and individuals create fond and long-lasting memories together.
I also went on a quick over-night visit to Aman’s newly acquired Caribbean resort, the Amanera. Aman meaning ‘peace’ and era meaning ‘water’, this resort wholly encompassed both. With cement steps scattered over beautiful and tranquil water paths, the quaint main resort has a completely open air bar and lounge area as they greet you with freshly squeezed organic juice.
The resort is located in Rio San Juan on an incredible cliff that overlooks the light blue ocean. The beach has light, soft sand with attendants that wait for a simple flip of the hand to run over and service you. The food has an authentic Dominican vibe as they served delectable ceviche and grilled pineapple shrimp. The resort has 28 casitas scattered throughout the edged landscape, every single one offering an ocean view. The rooms were spacious with sweeping floor to ceiling windows and sliding doors that led out to our private infinity pool. Including all of the top-notch technology, you were able to adjust the room to fit whatever mood you were in—be it the lights, the temperature, or blinds. Overall the Amanera was an unbelievable experience that not only seduces you into a relaxed state of being but also leaves you craving more of its’ hypnotizing tranquility.
Read about another Fathom travel cruise to Cuba aboard the Adonia from TravelStore’s Dan Ilves.