Travel is a way to enjoy the beauty and diversity of our world, and many travelers want to take action to help improve the economy or ecology of the places they visit. That’s called voluntourism, and it’s taken hold in the cruise industry.
Voluntourism can help you find a balance between enjoying your cruise and knowing that you’ve done something to help and support the ports you visit along the way. Voluntourism opportunities in the cruise world range from onboard fundraising activities, to spending some time doing volunteer work onshore, to taking a charter cruise with the sole purpose of supporting a nonprofit organization.
Onboard fundraising supports programs from cancer research to preserving habitat for wildlife. Holland America’s On Deck for a Cause program invites passengers to join in a 5k walk around the decks in exchange for a $20 donation. The proceeds support cancer organizations in six different countries, so it’s an easy way to do good (and feel good because you got your exercise). Royal Caribbean holds a similar event to support the World Wildlife Fund (WWF); on some itineraries, you can also “Swim for Sea Turtles” in the ship’s pool. A purchase of WWF merchandise in the onboard gift shop supports the organization, too.
Several cruise lines – including Princess, Holland America Line and Crystal – offer shore excursions specifically designed for voluntourism. You might participate in a beach cleanup, deliver donations of food and clothing, plant trees, visit schools to deliver supplies for students, or help build new homes for hurricane victims. Some voluntourism excursions focus on animals: you could help marine scientists gather data on sea life, care for injured animals, or work on habitat preservation projects.
Some nonprofit organizations charter ships for cruises that raise funds for their causes. A portion of each cruise fare goes to support the organization, and there may be onboard auctions and activities designed to raise additional funds. Examples include cruises that raise money to provide service dogs to veterans, active military and first responders who have disabilities; cruises that support the maintenance of breeding ground habitats for sea life; and most recently, cruises that support assistance and relief for victims of Australia’s wildfires.
Choosing a cruise with voluntourism opportunities makes your vacation so much more than a great time; you’ll be doing good and spreading love, too. For more information, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.
Find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AtthetaTravel