Carnival Cruise’s Fathom Line – Cruising With a Social Mission

Adonia for Fathom Carnival Cruise

The Adonia

The cruise industry gets lots of grief for the huge impact they have on the environment, burning vast reserves of fuel to move their skyscraper-sized vessels through the seas. There’s also lots to pick on about port villages created just for them and the impact that has on local communities and cultures, the insane amount of food waste on a sailing, and more…but I’m a firm believer in pointing out what companies are doing right, wherever I find it. Especially when it concerns making a positive difference in the world.

Carnival is launching a new cruise line called Fathom Impact + Travel, with the specific mission of taking guests on vacations where they will volunteer at social projects. The first voyage will be on the 710-passenger “Adonia” bound for the Dominican Republic in 2016. Once they arrive in the D.R., passengers will participate in projects including English language instruction, reforestation initiatives, water purification projects, and help harvest at a women’s cocoa co-op. Their model of “Impact Travel” is scaled for growth in subsequent years, with a target of 35,000 volunteer visitors in year one.

Fathom Cuba is also the line that will handle the new cultural exchange voyages to Cuba, specializing in person-to-person experiences and cultural immersion with humanitarian projects.

I, of course, have concerns as I do with any large scale drop-in volunteer gig, about the sustainability of projects and community impact in the down times when no boatloads of passengers are there. I’d love to go on a Fathom voyage and get a deeper understanding of the long-range plans for the brand’s evolution. If you go–please let me know about your experience in the comments below or contact email. I love that the company sees that the market is there for this kind of travel on a large scale. That says something positive about travel in general, and our priorities as members of a global family.

Best Shark Week Finale – Volunteer for Sharks

shark turning in shallow dappled waterWe’re coming into the home stretch of Discovery Network’s Shark Week, that ratings bonanza that strikes gold in the channels’s viewership numbers and strikes fear in the hearts of some swimmers (though we know you are waaaayyyy more likely to die of the flu or crossing the street than of ever having a dangerous encounter with a shark). Let’s face it, if they wanted to, they could snack on us quite a bit, but they are absolutely human averse. They could never really even the stakes, however, considering  the millions of sharks we slaughter every year for their fins and cartilage—often unnecessarily cruelly.

so let’s look at some ways to counter the Da-Dum, Da-Dum Jaws soundtrack that thunders in your head every time you dip a toe in the surf (or jump in a pool or fill your bathtub). Volunteering with this world’s amazing shark populations is a great way to counter the press-inflated stories about shark attacks and understand these magnificent creatures. I’ve been lucky enough to have experiences with different sharks, from Great Whites to Whale Sharks to nurse, black-tip reef, and others…and look forward to many more. Sharks rock!

Enkosini Eco Experience in Gaansbai, South Africa, as well as White Shark Projects (who I dove with, in that same shark-heavy zone of South Africa near Gaansbai, known as “Shark Alley”) are eco-focused, environmental leaders, and have lots of openings for dedicated volunteers.

I’ve had the memory-of-a-lifetime experience of being in the water with the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme and can’t recommend volunteering with these folks enough. Science rules the excursions, but the pure joy of encountering such grace will be what you carry with you long after you get home (see previous blog posting here).

I’m a big fan of Earthwatch, and find myself extraordinarily intrigued by their shark study volunteer expedition in Belize.

Frontier Gap has a shark conservation volunteer program in Fiji, helping research species and increase international awareness and understanding.

How about a volunteer gig at the Bimini SharkLab – it’s a biological field station always looking for dedicated volunteers.

This is just a small sampling of shark volunteer options around the oceans of the world…dive in and find one for your next vacation. Tell Ian Ziering and Tara Reid we’ll meet them there.

Happy Birthday Dalai Lama — Volunteer to Celebrate

Dalai Lama quoteToday is the 80th birthday of His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.

To celebrate, practice what HE preaches and find new ways to express compassion and connection in your world. One of his more famous quotes: “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.

If you’re particularly inspired by him, here are a couple of Dalai Lama-specific volunteer opportunities to check out.

The Dalai Lama Center for Peace + Education, in Vancouver, seeks volunteers for all of its expanding programs, including their renowned “Educating the Heart” program. Find out more here.

Redwood City, California’s Dalai Lama Foundation seeks worldwide volunteers for actions for ethics and peace. Let them know you’re interested in lending a hand by filling out Dalai Lama Foundation.

Traveling to India? (Lucky you!) The Dalai Lama Institute for Higher Education in Bangalore welcomes volunteers who, in return for their service, are able to learn Tibetan language, Buddhist philosophy, and receive room and board while volunteering. Check out their needs and opportunities at this link.

Volunteers in Dharamsala, India work with refugee Tibetan communities in need of assistance and support in the areas surrounding the palace ad home of His Holiness. Volunteer projects are organized by Volunteer in India.

Dalai Lama Fellows is a global program authorized by him, working with social innovators and those working toward worldwide peace, justice, and ecology. Several fellows of the program have developed and launched programs around the world that need dedicated volunteers. Fid your perfect match here.

You Get an Extra Second Today — Do Something Great!

Feel free to use this image just link to www.rentvine.com

Today, June 30, the clocks of the world will add one more second than usual to our day. It is time for the addition of a Leap Second to allow recorded time, known as “Coordinated Universal Time” and actual solar time as tracked by the Atomic Clock to catch up. There will officially be a time on clocks that reads 11:59:60 Greenwich Mean Time (and it may very well drive a whole bunch of technology absolutely ape shit because they won’t recognize that time). The last time this happened in 2012, a whole bunch of systems crashed including major internet servers and some air traffic control systems.

Assuming our technoverse doesn’t implode–what will you do with your extra second?

I’ve got an idea. Jump in and try any of these one-click ways to make a difference or these links to charities and non-profits around the world that have one-click donation programs. Click to donate free food to hungry people or pets; click to donate to cancer or other medical research initiatives; click for clean water projects; click to save the rainforest; click for animal causes; click to donate free books and give to literacy initiatives…just click. These aren’t click and dig into your wallet, just the act of clicking is the give, that translates into action on the other end. For most it is a value proposition for advertisers, so they give because they can verify your eyeballs landed on their page–and that is worth money to advertisers…and you only need to see the ad…for a second…for them to value your presence and give in your behalf.

The universe owes you an extra second. Use it in a beautiful way.

#LoveWins #Equality #MorePerfectUnion

with liberty and justice for all

Volunteer to Advance the Fight Against Parkinson’s Disease

Michael J Fox Trial FinderEvery Parkinson’s medical trial needs healthy non-affected volunteers as the “control” side of experiments testing effectiveness in the battle against Parkinson’s disease, as well as willing participants who are Parkinson’s patients. Don’t panic, we’re not talking about taking anything dangerous or beyond your comfort level, but these research studies rely on willing volunteers to help assess the effectiveness of ways to diagnose, treat, and defeat Parkinson’s. Every trial has extensive and carefully followed and monitored protocols, and, of course, you would never register for something that makes you uncomfortable. In most instances, your reaction when learning about a particular volunteer study need, will be, “Oh, is that all?”

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research now has a new tool, the Fox Trial Finder, working like the most health-changing dating service you can imagine — it links willing volunteers to trials that are so dependent on us for success in observational clinical trials (involving no drugs or treatments) and interventional clinical trials, where new treatments, vitamin and mineral plans, lifestyle change tests, detection and diagnostic methods, quality of life studies, and more are tested.

Fox, because of his fame and high profile before and since his diagnosis with Parkinson’s, has been responsible for shining so much important light on this issue and tirelessly working to find a cure for the five million Parkinson’s patients worldwide.

All you need to do is create a profile so studies can find you and let you know about opportunities to participate and be part of the answer for any trials that feel right for you. It’s important and heroic work, and a volunteer opportunity to truly leave a legacy.

Check it out and learn more:

Send Your Selfie to Space

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 7.38.14 PMSometimes I just have to write about stuff because it is SO DANG COOL, even if it isn’t directly about volunteering and service travel.

This is one o’ those.

Selfie to Space gives you the opportunity to add your photo to the new test model of the LightSail, launching in a few days. The Planetary Society DOES, in fact, have some very cool volunteer opportunities you should check out, to be a space advocate and more great engagements.

But about that LightSail thing–what the heck is it? It’s a citizen-funded space project — a solar-powered reflective sail using the sun’s energy for propulsion. It’s about 344 feet square and looks an awful lot like the big brother of those foil screens you put in your car’s windshield to block the sun on hot summer days. It heads into space all folded up into a cube the size of a loaf of bread, hitching a ride on other spacecraft until orbit, then it unfurls its mylar sails that are ridiculously improbable and delicate–less than 1/4 the thickness off a garbage bag. And your digital image will be on board.

Theis project is happening thanks to Bill Nye the Science Guy the super science dude Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

Sending your selfies is free — sign up, send the photo, Tweet about it (#SelfietoSpace), and you even get a certificate…but toss a few bucks at the project too (support link here).

I’ll see you on board!

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