Fathom Travel is bringing a new concept to the travel industry called Impact Travel
>>Check out Our Story with Fathom Travel<<
Bi-monthly trips to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic offer travelers the opportunity to make a social impact in this northern Dominican Republic province. You’ll spend three nights docked at Amber Cove with the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of on ground impact activities. Activities include everything from reforestation to teaching english to pouring concrete floors in homes.
Impact travel with Fathom is different from traditional ‘voluntourism’ in that projects are followed up on every two weeks. It’s not simply a week of volunteering and then disappearing forever, leaving the locals to ‘figure it out.’ Fathom is committed to transforming the future of Puerto Plata, long after travelers have left.
>>Be sure to check out our tips for getting the most out of your time on board at the end of this post!<<
As first time cruisers on a new cruise line we found ourselves with some unanswered questions when preparing for our trip. We hope the information below will help you prepare for a fun-filled and successful cruise! (We cruised to the Dominican Republic in May 2016. All information in this post is accurate as of that time.)
What is the best way to get to the port from Miami International Airport?
Uber and Lyft hands down, as you will pay more with a traditional taxi cab. So, be sure to download and set up the apps ahead of time.
On Sunday morning, these were the rates we were seeing for Miami International Airport to the Port of Miami.
Uber: $12.28 and up
We used Uber and ended up paying $12.28!
New to Uber or Lyft? Use these promo codes to save on your first trip:
Uber promo code: ALANA205UE for $15 off your first ride.
Lyft promo code: ALANA236610 for up to $50 in free ride credit (comes in the form of five $10 credits).
Tip: Use the promotion codes for both apps! Take Uber to the port and Lyft back to the airport for ultimate savings!
Do I need to speak Spanish?
No. If you participate in any of the English language programs, you will have the chance to learn some basic Spanish on board before arriving in the Dominican Republic. The staff and crew aboard the Adonia all speak English.
What should I expect from the on board training?
You will be assigned a cohort group and impact guide during your trip. You’ll meet with your cohort group three times. In the first session you will discuss what a Fathom traveler is and get to know your fellow travelers. The second session will introduce you to the Dominican Republic history and culture. Finally, a third session will allow time to discuss your experiences with your cohort.
The rest of the sessions are designed to make you think differently and equip you with tools, so you have a successful time during your on ground impact activities. You won’t be sitting back and getting lectured to aboard the Adonia, so be prepared to stand up, participate and get involved!
In addition to the impact sessions, there are several health and wellness sessions you can attend. Everything from learning about detoxification to healthy posture and even acupuncture. Mindfulness meditation is also offered daily.
Do I have to attend the impact training?
You are not required to attend any trainings (or any anything other than the muster drill). However, if you do not plan to participate in impact activities, you are probably better off booking a different cruise.
Is there Wi-Fi?
Yes, you can purchase wi-fi on board. The cost is $62.50 for 250 minutes. Speeds at sea are slow, but fast enough for email and social media.
Once at port you have free wi-fi on the ship. You still need to log-in like you are using paid wifi, but no minutes will be deducted from your account.
There is also free wi-fi for Fathom travelers at Amber Cove. You will need to stop at the Impact Center to get the password.
If you find yourself in need of fast wi-fi, your best bet is to go to the coffee shop at Amber Cove. If you make a purchase, they will give you the wi-fi password.
We’d also like to note that people with a Simple Choice plan from T-Mobile had success using their phones for calling, texting and data at Amber Cove.
How do I know what’s going on, and when and where it’s happening?
Your cabin steward will deliver the Soundings pamphlet to your door every evening. There will be a list of the following days activities broken down by time frame. On sailing days, there is so much going on, it can be overwhelming. Most people on our ship ended up getting highlighters out to get organized!
What should I wear?
Fathom invites you to dress casually. What does that really mean, though?
For impact activities, we suggest wearing clothing you don’t mind getting dirty. This is especially important for the reforestation, water filter and concrete pouring projects.
If you are participating in any of the English language programs, women should be mindful to cover their shoulders and wear bottoms that hit below the knee.
Bring rain gear if you have it for reforestation, but if you don’t, Fathom will supply you with a poncho in the event you need it.
Attire on board is casual as well, but we noticed many people still dressing up a bit for dinner. You definitely don’t need to bring heels, but a casual dress for females and collared shirt for males was popular on our sailing. You are welcome to come as you are everywhere on board with two exceptions: no swim suits/robes in any indoor restaurant, and those choosing to dine at the Ocean Grill should follow smart casual dress.
We’d also like to note a few items you might not think to pack:
Water shoes or sandals with straps (like Keens). These are especially important if you think you might like to do the 27 Waterfalls excursion.
A tote bag or backpack for Amber Cove.
Power strip – there are only two outlets in each cabin. If you have multiple devices to charge, this will come in handy. You are asked to not leave anything charging when you leave the room or while you sleep.
Hair dryer – The staterooms do have hair dryers but they are hard wired in the bathroom and low powered. If you are a habitual hair dryer, bring your own. It will make the process easier and faster!
Do I need to bring insect repellent?
Insect repellent is recommended for any on ground activity. Impact guides will carry it with them for the impact activities, but for everything else, you are on your own.
You can purchase an 8oz bottle of insect repellent on board for $12.95. Be sure to purchase it before arriving in Amber Cover as the on board shops are closed while in port.
You can also purchase a 3oz bottle at the pharmacy in Amber Cover for $5. However, the pharmacy hours were sporadic and they were not open before morning impact activities.
Do I need to bring sunscreen?
I recommend bringing at least enough to get you through the first day. The on board shops don’t open until the evening, so if you want to spend the day at the pool, you’ll need to bring it with you.
You can find sunscreen at the on board shops for $9.50 and up. The pharmacy at Amber Cover also carries sunscreen for $14 and up.
What toiletries are available in staterooms?
You’ll find small bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body lotion available. There is also a body wash dispenser in the shower. These are restocked throughout the week.
What else is in the stateroom?
We had an ocean view cabin which included a bed, desk, couch, safe, empty mini-fridge, small TV with some news and sports channels, phone, hair dryer, electric kettle and a selection of instant coffee and tea with creamer. Plus, Lara Bars. Coffee, tea, creamer and Lara Bars were restocked daily.
What about water?
We recommend binging a refillable water bottle from home. You can easily refill your bottle in the fitness center, which we did regularly. You should not refill your bottle from the dispensers in the buffet (and there is a sign reminding you). However, simply fill glasses with water and pour them into your bottle if necessary. If you forget your bottle or don’t have one, you can purchase a stainless steel Kleen Kanteen Fathom water bottle at the on board shop.
Additionally, bottled water can be purchased from your cabin steward. The cost is $9.75 for four 1.5 liter bottles.
Also, you will be supplied with plenty of water during impact activities. We had our own refillable bottles, but didn’t bother to bring them as it would have been another item to keep track of.
How is the food on board?
Overall, we really enjoyed the food! We found there to be plenty of meat, fish and vegetarian options at every meal.
There are two options for breakfast: The Conservatory (buffet) or The Pacific Restaurant (order off menu). We generally tried to go to The Pacific Restaurant, but the hours are limited (usually 8-9:30am) compared to The Conservatory (6-11am). On ground morning activities usually had a 7am start time, so the buffet was the only choice those days.
*Don’t hesitate to order a la carte off the menu at The Pacific Restaurant. We always ordered exactly what we wanted, so no food went to waste.
On sailing days there are three options for lunch: The Conservatory (buffet), The Pacific Restaurant (order off menu) or the Lido Deck Grill (burgers and fries). On port days The Pacific Restaurant is closed. We generally ate at the buffet for lunch. There are new options every day and we liked how we could build huge salads to get our veggies in!
There are three options for dinner: The Conservatory (buffet), The Pacific Restaurant (order off menu) and The Ocean Grill (extra cost of $25/person). We chose to have dinner at The Pacific Restaurant each night. We had the choice to dine alone or join a group. We did a bit of both!
*Dinners at The Pacific Restaurant include an appetizer, entrée and dessert. We found one of each to be plenty of food, but sometimes we ordered an extra appetizer because we couldn’t pick just one!
Dining hours varied, but when a restaurant wasn’t open for a specific meal, there were different snack options available on the ship. You won’t have to worry about bringing your own snacks or going hungry on the Adonia!
Can I bring drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) on the ship?
Each passenger is allowed one 750ml bottle of wine or champagne. If you drink that bottle in your state room, there is no fee. If you want to drink it anywhere else on the ship, there is a $15 corkage fee.
You can bring non-alcoholic drinks in your carry on.
Remember, you always have access to water, coffee, unsweetened iced tea and lemonade in the buffet restaurant.
How much are alcoholic drinks on board?
A 12oz beer costs $5.50-$5.95
Cocktails cost $8.95 – $10.50
Are you a wine drinker?
We highly recommend visiting The Glass House! You can purchase wine by the glass, bottle and even flights!
Flights cost between $12-25
Bottles are $25 and up
Glasses are $6.25 and up for 150ml and $9.25 and up for 250ml
Are there vegetarian options at each meal?
Yes! Alana is a vegetarian and found plenty of tasty vegetarian options at each meal.
Can I wash my clothes on board?
Yes, there is self service laundry and it is free. You just need to purchase detergent in the shop (costs roughly $0.80. Better yet, bring a laundry detergent pod from home).
Note: the on board shops are closed while at port so be sure to purchase the detergent before arriving in Amber Cove. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until Friday afternoon.
If you have items you don’t want to put in the clothes dryer, there is small clothesline in your state room’s bathroom shower.
Laundry service is also available and prices are similar to what you find at major hotels.
Is there a kids club?
There is a not a kids club or any specific activities for kids. However, kids age eight and up are welcome on board.
There were around 20-30 kids on our sailing, and we saw most of them playing together in the pool area during the day and on the dance floor at night. A lot of new friendships made! Also, the library offers a good selection of children’s books and board games. It should be noted there are no life guards on duty at the pool at any time.
Is there a fitness center?
Yes, the gym has free weights and weight machines, as well as treadmills, ellipticals, bikes and a rowing machine. There is also a nice sized area for stretching.
You will also find a walking/jogging track on deck 10.
There is a small selection of fitness classes offered. Yoga is offered almost every morning and is free of charge. There is also cycling, pilates, and a class called HIIT for an extra fee.
Is there a spa?
Yes, there is a full service spa. Prices are similar to those on other ships or at major hotel chains. There is also a private pool with high end sun loungers for a cost of $28/day.
The men’s and women’s locker rooms are open to everyone and feature saunas and luxury showers. You do not have to pay for a spa service to use these.
What is there to do at Amber Cove?
Amber Cove has a pool, water slides, two restaurant/bar areas, coffee shop, zip line, variety of shops, pharmacy, car rental, ATM and the Fathom Impact Center.
There is also a place to rent kayaks, stand up paddle boards, etc.
Amber Cove is large, so even if another ship is in port there is plenty of room for everyone. The pool area has hundreds of loungers.
Be sure to bring your beach towels from the ship, as no towels are available in the pool area.
How much are drinks at Amber Cove?
The pool bar and restaurant at Amber Cove have ample staff, so you’ll never have to leave your chair for a drink! Just flag down one of the people wearing the shirts that say ‘order here!’
The local beer (Presidente) cost $5/can or you can purchase a bucket of 5 cans for $20.
Frozen drinks cost $8
Cocktails cost $8
Shots cost $8
Wine cost $6
Non-alcoholic drinks cost $3-5
You’ll also find a selection of food: $9-12 for appetizers, $12-20 for mains.
Do I need pesos?
We did not find a need for pesos on our trip. Everything on the ship gets charged to your on board account, which you either charge to a credit card or pay cash for at the end of the week.
The merchants in Amber Cove accept dollars and most merchants also accept credit cards. The taxis will also accept dollars.
If you are planning to explore Puerto Plata on your own, you will want to have pesos on you. There is an ATM at Amber Cove that dispenses pesos, so make sure to check with your bank about international fees. If you frequently travel abroad, we recommend opening a Charles Schwab checking account. Charles Schwab refunds all ATM fees at the end of each month (US residents only).
What time will I get back to Miami?
Our ship was pulling into port when our alarm went off at 6:15am. We were assigned to group four disembarkment, which was scheduled for 8:45am. Immigration and customs were fast and we were in our Uber a little after 9am. Fathom suggests you do not book any flights until after 12pm. I would adhere to that because you never know. I’d rather spend the day in the airport than miss my flight and have to buy a new one!
>>Great Big Globe tips<<
There are a couple hidden gems on the ship you should visit on your first day aboard!
- The Glass House
The Glass House is the on board wine and tapas bar. Located on the back end of the ship, it offers an amazing view, especially on sailing days. The Glass House offers a large selection of wines, all of which are organic, vegan and/or vegetarian.
Your wine comes with complimentary gourmet hot and cold tapas. You can only get these bites in The Glass House!
- The Library
The on board library is stocked with a ton of great titles. We read Raising the Bar (the story of Clif Bars) and Pencils of Promise. Both books put us in a great mindset for our time in the Dominican Republic. Be sure to visit the library on the first day, so you have plenty of time to finish your book!
3. Bandioke Night
Check the Soundings magazine and make note of Bandioke night. Bandioke was held on Friday during our sailing and was so much fun! It’s basically karaoke but with a live band as back up. Who knew we were in the company of so many awesome singers all week?! It was a highlight of the evening entertainment for sure.
4. The sail away party!
Sailing out of the port of Miami is a treat in itself! Grab yourself a drink and head up to the observation deck. You’ll be treated with an awesome view of the Miami skyline followed by Palm Island, Star Island (possible celebrity sightings!) and finally South Beach! Once you’re out at sea, head down to the pool deck and join in on all the sail away party fun Fathom offers.
Do you have any questions? Please leave a comment or contact us directly. We’re happy to help!
Want to learn more about cruising with Fathom? As Fathom Insiders, we’re able to offer our readers extra savings for the remainder of 2016! Sign up for more information with this link and you’ll save up to $150 off the cost of your trip!
Sailings for the remainder of 2016 start at $499 ($349 if you use our link)!
We traveled as guests of Fathom Travel. All opinions are our own.