Cruise into Charity

Summer’s almost gone but that doesn’t mean cruise season is over. You can always find a warm port somewhere. And now you can also find some opportunities for volunteerism and charity as part of your vacation.
USA Today printed a story with 10 cruises where you can give back. Here's some information on them:

Crystal Cruises:On every cruise there are complimentary "You Care, We Care" excursions where guests and crew participate in volunteer activities. You can create crafts with the elderly in Cartagena, do a neighborhood cleanup in Puerto Vallarta or rescue sea turtles in Athens. On World Cruises, the line also has knitting or other crafting classes where guest make blankets for various children's charities around the world.

MSC Cruises: The Italian-style line is a booster of UNICEF. The "Get on Board for Children" initiative encourages adult passengers on all the line's ships to make contributions. Plus there's a day of "edutainment" activities for children including a parade, wish participating kids receiving a passport designating them a UNICEF World Citizen.

Royal Caribbean:Passengers can support Make-A-Wish with "A Walk for Wishes," a walk held on deck one sea day per cruise. Participants pay $10, and receive a "Royal Caribbean International Walk for Wishes" t-shirt. Cruise in June and you can also bid at auctions for perks such as back-of-house tours, dinner with the captain and cabin upgrades, to raise funds for Make-A-Wish. If you're looking to make a smaller donation, there are fundraising rubber wristbands and towels for sale onboard.

Celebrity Cruises:Support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation by participating in "Celebrity Freedance," an upbeat, group choreographed exercise activity, typically held once per voyage. Each participant is asked to pay $15, and receives a "Celebrity Freedance/Breast Cancer Research Foundation" t-shirt. You can also buy fundraising wristbands on the ships.

Seabourn: The luxury line has a new partnership with UNESCO, to support the safeguarding of World Heritage sites such as the Taj Mahal in India and the ruins of Pompeii in Italy. Seabourn is launching new shore tours focused on providing passengers greater understanding about conservation, with a portion of the price going to UNESCO's World Heritage Fund. Passengers are also being encouraged to make contributions through the cruise line's website — guests receive Seabourn Club rewards points for their donations.

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic: The Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic (LEX-NG) Joint Fund for Exploration and Conservation supports sustainable tourism, with a focus on places around the world the expedition line cruises – such as the Amazon and Antarctica. Passengers are encouraged to make donations and the line provides incentives: In lieu of a tax refund, you can receive up to $250 per traveler in future travel credit. National Geographic also provides membership in its Grosvenor Council for donations of $1,000 or more.

Holland America Line:"Deck for a Cause" fundraising walks on all HAL ships raise money for the global fight against cancer. Participants donate $20 to do a non-competitive 5km (3.1 mile) walk (you don't even need to do the whole course). You take home a t-shirt and wristband. The money raised supports six cancer organizations around the world including the American Cancer Society.

Carnival Cruise Lines:Carnival supports St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and on all ship passengers can participate in a fundraising dance party – you make a $10 donation and receive a "Care to Play" t-shirt and wristband. There's also a "Beary Cuddly" program where kids build a stuffed animal, proceeds of the sale of the bears benefiting St. Jude. Coming soon is a special bingo game with a portion of each card benefiting the charity, as well as a waterslide activity with a $1 donation for each ride during a specified time.

Princess Cruises:Together with Susan. G. Komen for the Cure, Princess is supporting two specific breast cancer research grants. Funds are being raised shipboard with an "On Deck for the Cure Walk" on each sailing. For a minimum of $15 you receive a special hat and appreciation reception. The total walk is five kilometers or a little over three miles.

Blount Small Ship Adventures:For 25 years this small ship line has supported the Casa Guatemala orphanage on the Rio Dulce in Guatemala. Passengers cruising there on the 88-passenger Grande Mariner or Grand Caribe visit the orphanage, meet the kids and have the option of buying necessities from a list the orphanage provides. Each sailing, the Blount crew also auctions off a Guatemalan handmade carving, the money going to the orphanage.

So don’t think summer vacations are over. The season has just begun and the ways to help others are many. God bless.


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