While down in Ft. Lauderdale I saw a beautiful cruise ship departing. The word “Fathom” was emblazoned on its side. Wikipedia says that this is a “social impact travel” product, set up in 2015. The basic idea is a one-week cruise, of which three days are spent in the Dominican Republic helping young people learn English, planting trees, etc. (web page with options) The line is operated by Carnival on the Adonia and she was built in 2001 and renovated in 2016. The monster ship is configured for only 704 passengers. This kind of “smaller ship” cruising is usually on the more expensive end of the spectrum.
How much does it cost to signal one’s virtue beyond Facebook? $399 per person, according to the Fathom site. That includes Carnival-grade hotel and 24/7 food for a week, the organization of “impact activities”, entertainment during the sea days, gym and “wellness” activities, classes, and ground transportation to the activities. It would be tough to stay home and prepare meals from ingredients bought at Whole Foods for less than this!
Given the hundreds of millions of folks on Facebook who express their deep feelings of concern for the world’s less fortunate, Fathom should be raking in the dough, right? If they want to run 40 weeks per year at 80 percent occupancy they need to get 22,500 would-be do-gooders to do more than “like” or “share” on Facebook. Let’s assume a purely American market for these cruises. Hillary Clinton got 48 percent of the popular vote in the most recent election. That represents roughly 156 million people (not all 325 million Americans can vote, of course, but any Hillary voter can bring children on this trip). Let’s assume that anyone who voted for Hillary professes concern for “the vulnerable.” Fathom thus needed to attract only 1 in 7000 of these folks every year in order to prosper.
How did they do? Wikipedia says “Fathom will discontinue operations in June 2017.”