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Fathom will spend more time in Cuba during the final months of its existence as a cruise line.
The brand announced Thursday afternoon that six sailings between February and May that were originally scheduled to stay solely in the Dominican Republic will now also visit Santiago de Cuba.
The 704-passenger Adonia, on loan from P&O Cruises, alternates between weekly itineraries in the Dominican Republic’s north coast and Cuba. The just-announced trips will be the first for Fathom that combine both destinations in a single week’s itinerary.
Prices will start at $599 per person; anyone already booked on the affected trips can stay on the sailing at whatever price they paid and have the cost of their Cuban visa covered by Fathom. They will also be allowed to switch to another Dominican sailing at no additional cost or opt for a refund. The final sailing to the Dominican Republic is May 21.
It’s just the latest adjustment for Fathom, the newest Carnival Corporation brand that sailed its first voyage in April. Earlier in the year, the line switched two Dominican sailings to Cuban voyages. At the time, representatives said they would consider redirecting more stops to Cuba if the government gave permission.
Originally introduced as a cruise line dedicated to social impact in partnership with organizations in the Dominican Republic, Fathom announced it would add Cuba last July as relations between the U.S. and Havana thawed. Demand has been strong for the Cuba sailings, but Dominican itineraries are not as popular and Fathom cut prices for some of those voyages to as little as $199.
In May, Adonia was the first ship in decades to sail to Cuba from the U.S. It remains the only vessel cruising between the two countries for now, but several others have received permission from the Cuban government to visit Havana starting in early 2017.
Carnival Corp. is awaiting approval to go to Cuba with other brands after June but will stop operating Fathom as a cruise line altogether. The branded experience will continue, allowing passengers on other Carnival Corp. lines to take part in shore excursions such as planting trees or making water filters with organizations in the Dominican Republic.
Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald said during an earnings call this week that he expects slow expansion for cruising in Cuba.
“The most important thing is positioning for the longer haul and positioning to lift overall demand and interest in the Caribbean — and ultimately because of that, create additional opportunity for capturing more of the value through increased yields,” he said. “And so Cuba is a longer term play, but you have to build it today and that’s what we’re doing.”