June 12, 2016: Miami, Florida
It’s no secret… Natalie and I love to cruise. After logging nearly 200 ports of call and 50+ countries in the last 12 years, I can say without question that our 7 days cruising to Cuba with Fathom cruise line was a truly one-of-a-kind and life-changing experience.
How Could We Say No?
While it was incredibly hard for us to leave R (our son) with our family for the week (the minimum required age for this and Fathom’s Dominican Republic itineraries is 8 years of age), a last minute opportunity became available for us to be one of the first Americans to visit Cuba and to do so onboard ship. The idea of unpacking once, enjoying activities, meals, and entertainment onboard the small ship Adonia, as we made our way to 3 different Cuban ports of call for 3 ½ days of on the ground cultural immersion required less than 24 hours to get from “Do we want to do this?” to “Reservation Made”.
Say Hello to Adonia
Just before 12noon on Sunday (embarkation day for all of Fathom’s 7 day itineraries), we took the short drive to Miami and made our way to Terminal J, where we met the Fathom Adonia up close and in person for the very first time.
Small Ship Cruising Is Just One Component of Fathom’s Approach to #TravelDeep
Terminal J is off by itself tucked away in a distant corner of the massive Miami Cruise Terminal complex, and we couldn’t asked for it any other way. As the capacity of the ship numbers around 700, the small ship experience starts with a quiet drop off at the front door (no chaotic traffic jams, honking horns, or thousands of your fellow travelers vying for position in the security line…), dropping your bags with the helpful and efficient porters, and riding the escalator up to the second floor to complete check in.
Another small ship perk? The entire check-in process took just 10 minutes to complete (Health questionnaire, required Cuba Travel Affidavit, passport scans, visa completion, credit card swiping for onboard purchases, security picture taking, and stateroom key issuance). We waited about the same length of time for our deck to be called to begin boarding and we made our way up the gangway and onboard.
We had a little time to explore the ship and grab a bite to eat while the staterooms were being reset, so we took a quick tour to get acquainted with our home away from home for the next seven days.
Adonia: Starting At The Top & Working Our Way Down
Moving towards the stern, head outside to the jogging track and more open deck lounger space with a view of the pool deck below, and just past mid-ship you arrive at the beautiful and blissfully quiet library, decked out with dark wood, internet computer terminals (wifi is available as well in public areas and staterooms), and ample reading material across a wide variety of genres (including a solid and growing set of maps and books specific to Fathom’s Cuba and DR itineraries):
Leaving the Library, the Ocean Grill specialty restaurant (detailed write up on our meal here later in the week!) and the Glass House Tapas and Wine Bar are inviting and present two perfectly fitting upscale options (read: nominal charge) within the laid back and casual vibe of the vessel:
Heading downstairs to Deck 9, next to the Card Room (general purpose activity and education room), the Embody Spa and Gym provides the perfect environment to be pampered or break a sweat (depending on the day and your interests):
Leaving the Embody Gym and Spa, the Crystal Pool deck includes a small, but more than sufficient pool, a few hot tubs, foosball table, ping pong, performance stage, plenty of additional loungers, and some of the coolest swinging chairs I’ve ever seen:
Heading towards the stern, the Lido Deck Grill fires up some amazing and incredibly tasty local itinerary favorites, including a Cuban Frita Burger, Dominican Republic Chimichurri Burger (Warning: You are entering deliciously spicy territory, here), Cubano Sandwich, Jerk chicken, hot dogs, side salads, and fries in a convenient grab and go format, or request an order and it’s made piping hot in just minutes:
Step inside at the rear of the ship for the Conservatory Buffet with a variety of options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and “late night”.
The Ship’s Pretty Amazing So Far, But Where Will I Sleep?
Fathom Adonia’s 350 or so cabins are spread amongst 4 passenger decks (Decks 8 (A), 7 (B), 6 (C), and 4 (D)) with 10 Suites, 248 Balconies, 74 Oceanviews, and 24 Insides. Passenger staterooms are identified by letter and stateroom number (A074, B107, C055, D014, etc.)
With the amazing sails into and out of the ports of call on our Cuban itinerary, I would highly recommend a Balcony stateroom, if your budget allows, but regardless, there are so many great spots on the open decks and in public areas to see and experience all that happens onboard that your stateroom is simply a manner of personal preference.
All staterooms include two lower beds that convert to king-size bed when brought together, sofa, bathroom with shower (and fair trade shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion), in room TV, phone, hairdryer, refrigerator, safe, tea/coffee making facilities, vanity/desk and chair, closet and drawer space and large picture mirrors. Four outlets are available at the desk (2 US and 2 UK outlets, so both 110v and 220v are supported). As with many locations around the ship, dark wood comes together with whites, blues, and gold accents in the living space. In our case, the balcony accommodates two chairs and a small table, and though there is little room beyond that, it is ample for taking pictures, admiring a sunset, or just relaxing as the ocean passes you by. Very comfortable, everything was in good working order, and with excellent air conditioning, it was a very quiet and welcoming haven after long days out in port.
Two small shops onboard (The Mayfair Shops) sit at mid-ship atrium, where local crafts, souvenirs, and other shopper interests directly from Fathom’s two itineraries as well as a number of free trade, sustainable, and people/environment-friendly companies and collections are available.
Deck 4, in addition to passenger staterooms, also includes the main reception desk and “Explorers”, the shore excursion and impact guide desk, as well as the medical center.
Adonia is beautiful and presents its 700 guests with a beautiful, spacious, and relaxing ship to undertake an amazing journey to Cuba or the Dominican Republic with Fathom.
While the ship itself seems so familiar and nearly the same as every cruise we’ve previously taken, very quickly, the things that set Fathom, its approach to cruising, and its onboard team apart from all other cruises begins to take shape within minutes of our arrival. Get ready to #TravelDeep!