As we make preparations to give thanks at Thanksgiving, consider that there are ways to give back to those less fortunate even while on your cruise vacation.
In between rum drinks and salsa lessons on Carnival Corporation's social impact cruise line Fathom, guests traveling to the Dominican Republic can take complimentary excursions to plant trees, build concrete floors, and make ceramic water filters for local communities, among other things.
Aspects of the program will soon be expanded to sister brands that also visit Carnival Corp.'s port of Amber Cove in the DR. On lines including Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, and Princess Cruises, you will be able to purchase excursions to work alongside women at a chocolate cooperative or help out at a recycled paper crafts business.
Holland America's "Cruise With Purpose" excursions fill a similar volunteering niche -- passengers in Alaska, for instance, can book passage on a research boat to help marine biologists count whales and collect plankton samples.
Luxury line Crystal Cruises has "You Care, We Care" volunteering excursions on select itineraries. River cruise line Uniworld recently added an optional four-day program where guests volunteer in a community in India before embarking on an itinerary on the Ganges (the program is operated with social impact company Me to We).
Cruising in general may sound indulgent, but the well-designed programs and activities set forth by many of these cruise lines can have a real impact. Consider this: In the six months since Fathom started operations in the DR, guests have produced and installed some 730 water filters for local families, constructed concrete floors in forty homes, and planted nearly 16,000 seedlings and plants, according to the cruise line.
If you're interested in travel this holiday season and you also want to give back, a volunteer-oriented trip can allow you to help make a difference while engaging with new cultures along the way.