When Fathom first sailed to Cuba earlier this month, it was a historic journey. Not only was this the first time that many Americans would be setting foot on Cuban soil, it was also the first cruise of its kind to take travelers to this gem of a destination, just 90 miles south of Key West, Florida.
While I myself wasn’t able to partake in the journey, I followed along closely, watched all the news reports and saw all the coverage on social media. It was an exciting trip, there’s no doubt about it, and so I followed up with a few people who were on the cruise to get their impressions of Fathom and Cuba!
“As we drew close to the city, all the Americans on board cheered our first interaction with Cubans as a pilot boat pulled up to show us through the narrow strait into the harbor. As we cruised along the famous Malecon (known as “Havana’s sofa” or living room because it’s where they all hang out), thousands of locals stood waving at us, screaming “Hola!” “Bienvenidos!” We screamed back “Cuba, Cuba, Cuba!” frantically waving our Cuban and American flags as the ship’s horn blasted announcing our entrance. (I am getting chills as I write this, because the welcome we received was unlike anything I’ve experienced in a lifetime of travel.)” – Chris McGinnis, www.travelskills.com[pullquote align=left] Read more about Chris McGinnis’ experience aboard Fathom and his thoughts on US/Cuba relations, which, as he says, is complicated: Cruising Into Cuba: It’s Complicated via TravelSkills.com
“Sailing on Fathom is unlike any other cruise experience, and not just because I was on the historic first sailing to Cuba in 50 years. In addition to the mountain of mixed emotions we all felt when docking in Havana that first time, the ship and its programming offer something you really can’t get on any other cruise..There’s a real focus on learning about the destination and immersing yourself in history and culture, but also a refreshing opportunity to learn more about yourself.
The Cuba experience, as I understand it, is quite different than the Dominican Republic experience.. Same ship, totally different destination and focus, which means you can stay onboard for two weeks if you like and never have the same day repeated. In Cuba, rather than focusing on volunteering, passengers participate in People to People experiences, which are essentially tours with local Cuban guides that offer a glimpse into daily life. We visited ‘paladares’ and local shops and had the freedom to ask our guide tons of questions about Cuba and its history.
Having been on many cruises in my lifetime, it’s no exaggeration to say that Fathom is a one-of-a-kind cruising experience..Perhaps it’s not for everyone, but for those who are willing to spend a week doing travel outside the box, it’s incredibly worthwhile.” – Angie Orth, www.angieaway.com
“Cuba is a destination that has always been at the top of my list. Growing up in South Florida, many of my friends came over from there, and I have been hearing stories about it my whole life. So when this opportunity came along, I jumped on it. When I first met Tara, the president of Fathom, on Twitter about a year ago, we immediately clicked, and what I really liked was her passion. She basically wasn’t going to let anything stand in her way of her goal, which was making Cuba happen.
The historic sailing was definitely the trip of my lifetime. The greeting we got when we arrived was similar to the Pope making his way through the crowd; everyone got a little teary eyed. The way it felt just walking around Havana was indescribable, but also something I will never forget. Fathom, as a brand, is one that will appeal to many because it’s definitely not your average cruise. Their demographics are much different, much more set up for people who want to give back, but also want to combine this with a little fun, or want some guidance along the way. Overall, Fathom gets two thumbs up from me!” Scott Eddy, www.mrscotteddy.com
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