Call it Volunteer Travel, Volunteer Vacations, Vacanteerism or Voluntourism, it means travel which includes volunteering for a charitable cause. Its a topic that has been about as popular as “minimizing our carbon footprint” or “making a positive environmental impact.” Some travelers get into it, some don’t. For one cruise line though, its a whole lot more than hanging up our towel to save the ocean when sailing.
“Since launching last year, this program has fostered an environment for understanding and caring about cultures, places, animals, and people in a way that traditional shore excursions often don’t,” says John Stoll, vice president, land and port operations.
Crystal Cruises has a “You Care, We Care” voluntourism program with opportunities for guests and crew to give back in Europe. Those participating spend a small portion (4-7 hours average) of their luxury vacation time aiding those less fortunate in the Ukraine, Italy, and Spain.
Basically, Voluntourism is a shore excursion-like experience that can bring back enriched memories and whisk away any guilty feelings one might have about spending more for a day at sea than some people make in a year. This is a good thing.
Shore Excursion: Sit on bus, drive around and see people/places worse off than you are.
Voluntourism Experience: Help build a school
“Worthwhile causes that serve the people and the communities in destinations around the world, and enable our guests and staff to help them hands-on during their travels,” added Stoll.
The Crystal Cruises offerings add to a calendar of European goodwill opportunities already established for Greece, Estonia, Norway, Croatia, Germany, and Ireland in 2012.
New philanthropic offerings include:
- Providing assistance to the homeless at a social services center in Odessa.
- Aiding the 400 year-old charity brotherhood of Pio Monte della Misericordia, on excursions from Sorrento and Naples.
- Maintaining the gardens/greenhouses of Olacau’s AIDEM Association, which supports disabled persons by growing medicinal and aromatic plants, as well as providing job training in the gardening field (from Valencia).
- Helping to protect endangered marine life at the CRAM Foundation in Barcelona.
Those sailing Europe this summer and fall can also help rescued sea turtles in Athens, hungry families in Tallinn, homeless cats in Bergen, underprivileged youth in Dublin, disabled persons in Livorno, the elderly in Dubrovnik, and troubled children in Navplion. Crystal Cruises has committed to arranging the logistics and offering at least one volunteer excursion free of charge on every Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony cruise around the globe.
“A cornerstone of Crystal Cruises’ culture is its genuine hospitality and service that has been internationally-celebrated for two decades,” said Crystal Cruises in a statement. “This spirit of generosity extends to its respectful treatment of the environment, oceans and communities in which it travels.”
Photo: BP America via Compfight
Chris Owen is a travel writer fromcharged with sharing frank, inside information on cruise vacations with travelers. Certified a Master Cruise Counselor by the , Chris can be found via the popular travel blog, ChrisCruises.net and on the long-running cruise information website, YourCruiseDream.com.
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