Cruises are one of those catchall family vacations. The kids love the pools, kids’ club and endless ice cream. Parents love that they can see a lot of different places without packing up every other night to switch hotels. Most cruises don’t allow visitors to actually get to know a place though. You don’t get to know the local people or see more than a few hours of the area, if you even leave port. Fathom Travel is trying to change all of that through voluntourism in the Dominican Republic. It’s not a perfect cruise, but it may be the easiest way for you to introduce your children to a new country, its people, and how others live.
Although Fathom labels their volunteer opportunities as "impact travel," many families will come to find that it is more of a cultural education for you and your kids. The community activities, which are included in the price of your cruise, introduce you to nonprofits on the ground that are helping local women run their own cooperatives and children learn English. Whether the presence of Fathom cruise and their clientele is actually making a difference to the locals, we may not know for some time, but it is having a impact on the children who cruise with them.
As a parent, it is hard for me to impart on my kids that they live a very privileged life. They have a nice home with a roof and hardwood floors. They always have food in the fridges and plenty of cereal in the pantry. They go to school, and have no idea that isn’t an option in some countries. They have seen hardship in America, and have friends with less than them, but as a wise person once said, even the poorest person in America would be considered rich in other countries across the globe.
Fathom is giving families access to the local communities that normal cruising would never show you. Instead of just hopping in a bus to go to the 27 Waterfalls of Rio Damajagua outside of Puerto Plata, you and your family are going to a local community school to help students with their English language pronunciation (it’s hard to find native speakers to teach in the schools). Your children are meeting other kids their own age. They are seeing the conditions their Dominican counterparts learn in, but they are also seeing that kids just like them love to play baseball, be silly in class and get self-conscious in those tween years. This, more than anything, is the impact that Fathom’s activities have on families.
You may not reshape the world, or make it a better place in a few hours, but you will show your kids that they are like other kids across the globe, but also how they are different. It leads to a conversation about how others can live with much less, but still be just as happy as you are. Maybe instead of buying that new LEGO set, you can talk to your kids about supporting the nonprofits that you saw in the Dominican Republic on your last vacation. Look for ways to continue that spirit of education and awareness is the true power of a family cruise with Fathom Travel.
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Keryn is an East Coast native living life as a freelance writer in Seattle surrounded by her two little boys and one incredible husband. When not dragging the men in her life across the globe you can find Keryn writing on her blog Walking On Travels, a site that gives hope to today's modern parent that doesn't see kids as a roadblock to travel, but an excuse to get out the door and explore. Keryn has laughed at the naysayers by bringing her boys to far off lands like China, Hong Kong, Japan, Hawaii, back and forth across the USA, Mexico, Canada, and even across Europe. Keryn loves to encourage families to take that first step out the door, the hardest step of all. Follow Keryn on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google Plus.
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