Cuba & Dominican Republic Cruise Ship Review

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Fathom’s Adonia cruise ship in port at Amber Cove, Dominican Republic. Photo © 2016 Nancy D. Brown

I’ve had the good fortune to sail on small ships, large ships, mega ships and river cruise longships. I enjoy the floating hotel aspect of cruising, as I like seeing new places and only having to unpack my suitcase once. When I had the opportunity to join Fathom on a cruise to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic I jumped at the chance. If, like me, you are interested in responsible tourism, combined with adventure activities, this is the cruise for you.

The 704 passenger cruise ship Adonia is a joint venture between Carnival Corporation and Fathom to deliver a different type of cruise. They have coined the term “impact travel” and offer week long cruises to Cuba one week and the Dominican Republic the next, alternating between the two. Cuba is a cultural-based cruise, while Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic is a volunteer-based cruise. That’s not to say that it is mandatory to participate in the land-based impact activities. You are welcome to stay on board the Adonia while the ship is in port, or you have the option to hang out and relax at Amber Cove with its huge swimming pool, shops and cabanas. Additionally, you’ll have time to experience the many things to see and do in Puerto Plata, go off on your own adventure or try some DR shore excursions like visiting the waterfalls or heading to the beach.

I’ll discuss my impact activities visiting a chocolate factory, trying my hand at recycled paper making and community English conversation & learning in future blog posts. Until then, here is a brief overview of the Adonia cruise ship. The 30,000 ton ship was built in 2001 and refurbished in 2011. One of the first things I noticed was the lack of a casino – and in my mind – that’s a good thing. With 375 crew members, the ship is not small, yet it allows guests the opportunity to get to know one another while sailing.

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Air-conditioned balcony cabin. Photo © 2016 Nancy D. Brown

Ship accommodations

Room categories are broken down into inside and outside cabins, balcony cabins and suites. Inside cabins are for the budget conscious traveler, outside cabins have either a porthole or window. I was fortunate to sail in a balcony stateroom (A59) during my cruise to the Dominican Republic. Located on deck 8, my room was comfortable, functional and conveniently located to the elevators. All rooms offer air conditioning, desk, television, radio, mini fridge and safe. Additionally, there is a private bath with sink, toilet and shower, as well as built in hair dryer.

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Kiara in dancer’s pose at sea. Photo © 2016 Nancy D. Brown

Shipboard activities

“Yoga is a great opportunity to be out in the fresh air and connect with the environment everyday,” said Kiara of Melbourne, Australia

For those of us who like to stick to a healthy exercise regime while at sea, you’ll be able to take a complimentary yoga class, join in a mindful meditation session or work out in the gym. For the young adults on board (or the young at heart) you can sleep late after an evening jam session of karaoke or hang out at the swimming pool. There’s also salsa dance lessons, on board scavenger hunts, wine & paint night, a quiet library with books and games to borrow, and fair trade shopping on ship and at the Amber Cove duty free port.

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The Adonia swimming pool is flanked by a hot tub on either side. Photo © 2016 Nancy D. Brown

Green cruising and amenities

The daily Soundings newsletter is available nightly in your stateroom. This is your guide for impact activities, workshops, ship information, shops, weather and services. The Dominican Republic does not yet have accessible clean water for all. While Fathom will provide bottled water on all impact activities, don’t forget to pack your water bottle in your backpack. You won’t need to pack hair care products, as Fathom stocks Fairtrade shampoo, conditioner and body lotion from Fair CosmEthics – a nice touch to counter balance all the plastic water bottles. In fairness to Fathom, they have not yet figured out a workaround the plastic water bottle issue.

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On board dining

There are four restaurants on board the Adonia; the Conservatory, Lido Grill, Ocean Grill & Pacific Restaurant. The Pacific Restaurant on deck five is all inclusive and typically open breakfast, lunch and dinner. The majority of my dinners were eaten in the Pacific Restaurant and I’m happy to report that they were all very good to excellent quality. Rack of lamb is a standout & seafood is often an option. Gluten-free diners will not have any problems as long as you alert the staff in advance. I dined next to a gluten-free cruiser. She had access to the menu the night prior and they modified her dining options beautifully. The waitstaff is very service oriented throughout the ship. Dress is casual and drink plans are an optional fee.

The Conservatory, located on deck 9, was my go to dining option for a quick and easy breakfast and lunch. This is also the place to go for one last cookie or late night snack. If you prefer to wake up to in room dining, a $5 tray charge applies with plenty of time options for delivery. The Lido Grill, on deck 9, as well, offers Cuban sandwiches, burgers and jerk chicken. The Ocean Grill, located on deck 10, is a specialty restaurant with an additional fee. Unlike some cruise ships, where the food is so mediocre that you are kind of forced into the upscale restaurants, I was very happy with the Pacific Restaurant options and did not feel a need to splurge on the Ocean Grill.

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Meeting with Fathom Impact Guides. Photo © 2016 Nancy D. Brown

Need to know:

Create your Journal Planner account as soon as you book your travel; this is where you’ll sign up for impact activities and shore excursions.Bring your passport and reusable water bottle! Wifi connectivity is offered aboard the ship. There are two ways to purchase an internet plan; pay as you go per minute or 100 and 250 minute plans. Fathom offers an app. On my sailing the app was not worthy of downloading. However, this was only the ships 5th sailing on this itinerary so perhaps they have made it more timely?

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Insider tip:

If you decide to participate in Fathom impact activities you may get dirty along the way. The Adonia offers the use of washing machines and dryers for free. You’ll want to bring along packages of HD laundry detergent. For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and Instagram and follow @FathomTravel on Twitter and Instagram.

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Read a book in the library. Photo © 2016 Nancy D. Brown

If You Go:

Fathom (855) 932-8466
Rates start at $499 per person and are based on double occupancy. Soon to come – your exclusive Fathom Insiders discount code. More information may be found on the Fathom website,

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. Disclosure: thanks to the folks at Fathom for making this trip possible. This was my first time sailing to the Dominican Republic and I loved it! All opinions are my own.

2 thoughts on “Cuba & Dominican Republic Cruise Ship Review”

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