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Travel Tip: Volunteering on Your Cruise

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If you thought cruising was all about the indulgence, think again. More and more cruise lines are offering the chance to give back to local communities during your trip.

Crystal Cruises has a number of voluntourism opportunities, including some new ones in its European ports—that includes working with marine life in Barcelona or spending time at an education and health center in Odessa.

Semester at Sea, which is open to adults of all ages, often ties in field work and voluntourism to its curriculum. That could mean working with a conservation group or with a local Habitat for Humanity chapter.

Even if your cruise line doesn’t offer a volunteer experience, you can still get connected through a program called Hope Floats. This California-based organization coordinates volunteer experiences on five Caribbean islands.

All of the participating charities are located within a short drive from the port, and they’ll set you up with an experience that runs for about 4 hours total.

Now the real question is whether donating just a few hours is actually enough to be effective. But in my opinion, anyone who chooses to spend part of their vacation volunteering—instead of sitting on the beach with a pina colada—is already making a difference.

For more information, visit the Cruise and Voluntourism archives.

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