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Voluntourism Spotlight: How to Cruise with A Purpose in Alaska

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CWP_baleen_whalesWhat’s the latest trend in cruise shore excursions? Turns out it just might be voluntourism. Cruise voluntourism has hands-on options in the Caribbean and Canada, but you’ll find some of the most exciting opportunities in Alaska, where you can simultaneously go whale watching and volunteer. Check back every Wednesday for more voluntourism opportunities and tune into Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio on Saturday for more information.

Want to give back while you travel around Alaska? Holland America Line has a program called Cruise With Purpose, which includes shore excursions that let you give back to local community. Traveling to Alaska usually means enjoying the beauty and majesty of nature, and now you can help to preserve it.

The program has been running since 2009, and you can participate by choosing any itinerary in Alaska that stops in Juneau. While you’re there, you can help two organizations, the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program and the Marine Conservation Alliance.

In the past, volunteers have done a variety of volunteer work to help these two organizations. When you go, you can go aboard a research vessel, where you’ll be able to observe and document the behavior and statistics of orca and humpback whales. You can also gauge the temperature of the ocean, catch plankton, and gather water samples. With these, you can learn more about the ocean, and help collect statistics useful for assessing the salmon run season in Alaska. Each of these excursions also includes stops on local beaches to collect trash and debris, bringing them back to their natural state.

Available on all itineraries that stop in Juneau through September, the excursion benefits two local environmental organizations — the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program and the Marine Conservation Alliance. Passengers board research vessels to document local humpback and orca whale populations. They also measure ocean temperatures, gather plankton and collect water samples — readings that serve as a barometer for the annual salmon run season in Alaska. The trip is capped with stops to remove debris and non-native material from local beaches. Click here for more information about how you can get involved.

Keep reading to learn about more voluntourism opportunities around the world.

By Stephanie Ervin for