Investigative work is being carried out by Carnival Corporation – the parent company of Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises, Holland America Line, Cunard and several others – on whether shore excursions and onboard activities with a humanitarian twist could be developed for passengers to give back to local communities in the Asia-Pacific region.

The work is being carried out in conjunction with the company’s burgeoning social impact cruise brand Fathom, which launched in April this year, operating week-long cruises between Miami, Florida and the Dominican Republic, where guests can engage in humanitarian work.

At this stage, more than 40 opportunities for sister brands to offer similar activities to their passengers have been rolled out as part of their own voyages visiting the Dominican Republic. These include a hands-on chocolate experience where guests can visit a local chocolate factory run by a group of local women and can participate in the production process. Guests can also opt to visit a small recycling plant which turns reusable materials into papers and crafts which are then made available for sale to help fund the process.

It is understood that work to expand Fathom’s social impact cruise concept globally, including to Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific, is in the pipeline.

Humanitarian projects are already available on a smaller and more indirect scale on cruises departing from Australia. On P&O Cruises, guests are able to contribute to the ongoing work of Save The Children Australia as part of a partnership between the two firms, which sees $1 automatically added to the onboard accounts of each passenger, however this donation can be removed on request.

In recent years as Vanuatu and Fiji have been left devastated by Tropical Cylones Pam and Winston respectively, passengers on cruises visiting the region soon afterward have been carrying supplies of fresh water, donations and even supplies of yarn, which have been turned into blankets knitted by passengers while onboard.

Concepts identified by Fathom and Carnival Corporation would likely be developed outside of these existing charity partnerships. Travellers would be able to disembark the ship and visit local communities where they could participate in activities to deliver a lasting benefit. These could include one-day working bees, meeting local small business owners, visiting small cultural attractions and meeting with local children, among many more possible activities.

No timeline for the rollout of such experiences on local cruises has been identified by Carnival Australia. A company spokesperson told Cruise Advice that “it’s a concept being considered in this market however it is still too early to say what shape it will take”.