Carnival CEO Wants ‘Voluntourists”

Carnival CEO Arnold Donald
Carnival CEO Arnold Donald. Photographer: Richard Drew via Bloomberg

by Chris Palmeri (Bloomberg) Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise-line operator, is introducing a new brand, fathom, aimed at customers who want to save the world while sailing the seas.

Book: Devils on the Deep Blue Sea: The Dreams, Schemes, and Showdowns That Built America's Cruise-Ship Empires
Related Book: Devils on the Deep Blue Sea: The Dreams, Schemes, and Showdowns That Built America’s Cruise-Ship Empires

The seven-day excursions start in April 2016 at a cost of $230 per person, per day, Miami-based Carnival said Thursday in a statement. The prices include an exterior cabin, meals on the ship and supplies related to the activities, which Carnival called “voluntourism.”

The company sees untapped potential in consumers who want to combine travel with social activism. Guests on the first such cruise will depart from Miami to Amber Cove, a new port developed by Carnival in the Dominican Republic, where they will work with local organizations, such as a women’s co-op that produces artisanal chocolates. 

“The market for this type of travel is big, growing and passionate,” Carnival said in the statement.

Projects will focus on education, the environment and economic development, the cruise company said, and will include participation in activities such as English teaching and reforestation efforts.

Carnival has been looking for new areas of growth under Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald, who took over for longtime CEO and top shareholder Micky Arison in 2013. Donald has said he would look for ways to reach travelers who haven’t cruised before, in part by appealing to the different “psychographics” of consumers.

“I think there might be opportunities,” he said in a 2013 interview, “given today’s purpose-oriented generation.”

First Ship

Carnival is rebranding the 710-passenger Adonia, which sails under its U.K.-based P&O Cruises name, to serve as the first vessel in the fathom line. The ship is expected to generate higher revenue than it previously would have and be profitable, the company said.

“If we are not genuinely impactful, we’re not going to keep doing this,” Tara Russell, fathom’s president, said in an interview.

The company’s market research suggests about half of potential passengers haven’t taken a cruise before. The average age may be 34, with annual income of $125,000, Russell said.

The cruises will include a day of preparation at sea and three days or more days of land-based activities.

©2015 Bloomberg News