We were all ready to set sail to the Dominican Republic on Fathom Travel's Adonia for her Maiden Voyage. I'd sprayed my clothing with permethrin to ward off mosquitoes, packed my hats, cameras and sunscreen. Nothing could have prepared me for what happened...or didn't happen next.

Fathom Travel- Adonia’s Maiden Voyage

My husband Dan and I, were supposed to be on Fathom Travel- Adonia’s maiden voyage cruise to the Dominican Republic. We were psyched to be part of parent company, Carnival Corporation’ s “Travel with Purpose” and Impact Travel adventure, which included the opportunity to make a difference. 

After checking in at the Port of Miami, receiving our keys, and saying good-bye to our luggage, we started to get excited.

Our friend, TV Producer Debbie Mitchell, was also going to be on the trip with us. While we waited to board the ship, Mitchell and I started working on our video project, all about the experience of Fathom Travel Adonia’s maiden voyage.

Tara Russell Fathom Travel Adonia
Tara Russell, President and Founder Fathom Travel

Adonia was scheduled to leave the Port of Miami at 4PM Sunday April 10, 2016. At about 3PM, Tara Russell, founder, president & global impact leadFathom Travel appeared on a podium in front of her baby, the newly retrofitted Adonia.

Microphone in hand, Russell was about to make the announcement we’d all been waiting for. “Let’s get on board and get this party started!” but those were not the words, that came out of her mouth.

This isn’t an exact quote, but Russell did say something more like this….”We’re very sorry, but there is a small delay with our departure. There are busses outside ready to take all of you on some Miami adventures, while we get things ready on board.”

Fathom Travel Passengers Adonia
Bored passengers at Port Of Miami waiting to board Adonia

Ok, this isn’t the end of the world. I’m a patient traveler. But the next thing I knew, I’d found myself in the Florida Everglades on an air boat ride, searching for alligators.

Ok, I grew up in Miami and had never been to Everglades Safari, so this was an unexpected treat. I’m looking on the bright side as you can tell.

Everglades Safari Air Boat
I’m On A Boat…Not the one I’d expected, but it was a boat.

Three hours later, after spotting a few alligators and learning all about pythons, we were back at the Port of Miami, eager to get off the bus and more than ready to board the beautiful Adonia. Instead, Fathom’s Director of Sales, Jason Maltais boarded our bus, and apologetically told us that, the ship would not be sailing this evening.

HUUUGE SIGHS all around. What was going on? No one really knew for sure.

What we did know, was that our luggage had been taken off the boat and was now on conveyor belts for us to grab, and bring over to the busses which were now headed to two separate hotels.

Half of the 500 or so passengers were being taken to the Doubletree Miami, and my group was now en route to the Holiday Inn, Hialeah.

OK. I’m still rolling with the punches.

Holiday Inn Hialeah was not EXACTLY the place, that I would have ever chosen while visiting South Florida, but it had just been renovated and was very nice. I was pleasantly surprised.

Additionally, the staff at Holiday Inn, headed up by General Manager Glen Vuilleumier, could not have been more ready nor more welcoming, with the few hours advance notice they’d been given.

Everything had been well planned for our “side trip excursion” and the hospitality was really superb.Holiday Inn Hialeah

There was a dinner buffet waiting for us and the rooms were clean, comfy and pretty.

Holiday Inn Hialeah Room
Comfy Beds at Holiday Inn Hialeah

The next morning, we passengers awakened to notes under our hotel room doors explaining that we would have a late checkout (1:00PM) and that we should gather in the lobby at 11:00AM for an announcement from Fathom. At breakfast (which was provided), many of us speculated as to what was going on.

Rumors swirled about that the US Coast Guard was not allowing the ship to leave, due to door seals being improperly installed.

The 11 o’clock announcement came and was simply put, “Adonia wasn’t leaving Miami… just yet.”

Moans. Groans. Sighs. “Come back here at 1 o’clock for another update,” said Jason Maltais, Director of Sales for Fathom Travel.

Lunch was provided at noon and the 1:00 PM update was more of the same.

No news is good news, we had hoped.

Maltais explained that as soon as there was something concrete to report, we’d be alerted. It was all very unsettling and vague. Upon reflection, this was probably the time that Fathom’s team used to gather their troops, and organize the logistics of what to do with 500 passengers who had been planning on cruising to the DR, but would not be doing that at all.

At 2:15 PM, Jason gave us the heartbreaking news- Watch video to watch the announcement.

The maiden voyage, set to be a soft launch (official launch April 17) was comprised MOSTLY of travel agents, writers and bloggers, who were eager to set sail and partake in this exciting new journey.

Now, this resourceful group of travelers were forced to scramble and figure out their next moves.

Debbie Mitchell
Debbie Mitchell and I taking it all in stride

Most took it in stride, and we were all happy to hear that Fathom would be reimbursing everyone for their out-of-pocket travel expenses. Fathom also offered to pay for an extra nights lodging, incidental travel needs and food.

Dan and I, our untanned heads held low, flew home to NYC a few hours later. It wasn’t until the sad plane ride home, that we realized we’d be returning home to cold weather, after planning and dreaming about this trip for months.

Part of those plans included our purchasing special protective clothing to ward off mosquitoes, spraying our other clothes with permethrin, packing our drones, cameras, electronic equipment, sunscreen, hats and more. We had worked out our business schedules to accommodate the trip. We weren’t so happy now.

I am positive that this is not the outcome that Fathom wanted. They wanted it to be a magical start to a new way to travel with purpose and this must have been a nightmare for them to have to cancel the maiden voyage of Adonia. We were very impressed with the way Fathom treated us, and felt really badly for them.

Although I am still not certain of what exactly what went wrong with this voyage, there is one thing do know.

I don’t have to unpack, or wash a lot of dirty laundry.

Fathom Travel Jason Maltais
Jason Maltais and Vicki Winters

Thanks to everyone who worked tirelessly to turn this challenge into a positive experience. I intend to set sail on another Fathom Travel voyage… sooner than later.

If you’d like to know more about Fathom Impact+Travel, AND get a discount for your own Impact Adventure cruise to Dominican Republic, please click this link:

My special OFFER CODE (1510) will give you a discount of up to $150 dollars per person on cruises to the Dominican Republic depending on your travel dates.

Booking Window  Discount
May/June  $150/pp
July/August  $100/pp
Sept, Oct, Nov  $50/pp

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Vicki Winters

Thanks for being my guest on The Vicki Winters Show.

I'm A Food, Travel, Video Blogger with ADHD.

"I'm All Over The Place."

Winters, a Bucket List Boomer has been living life to its fullest.

She can usually be found riding her bike around NYC or on some interesting adventure, somewhere around the globe.

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9 comments

  • Better safe than sorry. I get a do-over next week and I’ll be on the May 8th sailing to DR on Fathom Travel. Looking forward to pouring concrete floors, teaching English and more….

  • Not so much fun at all, Betsy. Next weekend I know a lot of people who will be on that ship….and I will probably start crying then. I was really excited to be on the maiden voyage.

  • Very unfortunate for so many. I know that several of the travelers that were at my hotel, quickly booked tickets to Cartagena, some ran off to other Carnival Cruises (parent company of Fathom Travel), and some went home sad and pale-faced.

  • Fathom bent over backwards to try to make everyone happy, but yes it was still very disappointing. I’m looking at the bright side. I’m in NY and can support my favorite Presidential candidate at some rallies this week. #lemonade

  • It sounds like Fathom handled things well, but what a disappointment. Part of our family is scheduled to sail with them in June; hopefully all the start-up stress will be worked out by then.

  • It’s so unfortunate that the ship did not leave port in Miami – what a huge disappointment for everyone concerned. In answer to your question we are “scheduled” to be on the April 17 cruise, just a few short days from now. We have heard otherwise so here’s hoping!

  • What a PR nightmare for this company and not fun for you, even though they did their best to accommodate everyone. I hope we’ll hear more positive updates as Fathom works out the kinks.

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