Cruising With a Purpose: Crystal Cruises Creates a Way to Give Back

I’ll admit to a bit of personal prejudice against large ship cruise vacations–and like most prejudice, my opinion is based entirely on ignorance. Never done it, doesn’t sound like my cup of tea (and of course, when I finally DO try a cruise, I’ll probably love it). Part of my unfounded resistance comes from the stereotype of spending all your waking hours by the pool or in line at a buffet, the monotony broken up only by shore excursions with hordes of ugly, uncouth tourists looking for souvenir t-shirts and burgers with fries as they snap flash photos of “colorful” locals–I’d sooner have a root canal. I know, of course, that the reality of cruising is a wide array of possible styles, clientele, and activity levels.

Crystal Cruises has just launched, for their 2011 season, a program I can really get behind, and one that helps me re-frame my bias. Their new You Care, We Care initiative creates volunteer shore excursions on every one of their cruise itineraries in 2011. Unlike so many shore excursions, these You Care, We Care experiences are complimentary for passengers who choose to participate. The goal is for clients, and cruise staffers as well, to have an authentic community experience in the communities visited on the itinerary. Some examples (more rolling out soon) are: working with children at a burn unit in Peru, doing craft projects or sports with the elderly or youth in Colombia, also in Colombia a chance to do urban organic farming, and a Mexico project in Puerto Vallarta where you work on beach cleanup and light construction at a green space. Helping local communities, with projects designed from WITHIN the communities, is a profound experience for us, and truly enhances travel.

So I’m ready to re-evaluate…if I can do some good work AND have a drink with a little umbrella in it when I get back on board…I can definitely increase my tolerance of other passengers in black socks, sandals, and Aloha shirts.

How about you? Are you in?

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