VolunCruising – It’s the new trend in cruise travel and holidays that gives cruise passengers a chance to not only visit a variety of destinations in one trip, but offers the opportunity to help multiple international communities. One of my 2010 New Year’s Resolutions was to take part in more travel opportunities with meaning. My very good friend and fellow travel writing mama, Nancy Schretter, opened my eyes to all the ways a travelers can give back to the communities that welcome them along their cruise itinerary.
Nancy is the founder of Together for Good, a non-profit organization that provides information to travelers on how to give back while on vacation – be it a cruise or a visit to a resort destination. I was amazed at what the two of us were able to accomplish on our Together4Good cruise aboard the Norwegian Spirit during our port stops in Costa Maya, Belize, Cozumel, and Guatemala. Nancy recently assisted with Cruise4Haiti, a voluntourism cruise with support from Royal Caribbean that allowed cruise travelers to deliver goods and volunteer their port time with those in need in Haiti. I asked Nancy to share some information about the experience. Nancy Schretter is a kind soul who has been assisting families with travel information for decades. Her site, Family Travel Network, was one of the first family travel sites ever published on the web. Be sure to follow her on Twitter: KidTravel ~ CajunMama
More than 30 humanitarian travelers joined the recent Cruise4Haiti, a pioneering voluncruise that raised significant funds and in-kind donations for charities assisting Haiti as well as provided aid to children in all three ports of call.
This 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas sailed from Miami, Florida on November 14, visiting St. Maarten; San Juan, Puerto Rico and Labadee, Haiti. Organized by Nancy Schretter (Together for Good & the Family Travel Network), Rich Tucker (CruiseDeals.com) and Carrie Finley-Bajak (Cruise Holidays of Mission Viejo), the Cruise4Haiti was designed to assist children and families in need in Haiti and the Caribbean and to raise awareness of Haiti’s plight. All funds raised benefited For Haiti With Love and Airline Ambassadors, two non-profit organizations that have been working in Haiti since well before the earthquake.
Our Cruise4Haiti group included the founders of three non-profit organizations, a doctor, a lawyer, many humanitarians, families and teens, and a wide variety of travelers committed to giving back to others. In addition to group activities such as making holiday cards for orphans and assembling gift bags, the Cruise4Haiti cruisers enjoyed all of the fun shows and entertainment that Royal Caribbean’s ships offer its guests. They even came up with an event of their own – a benefit concert open to the entire ship.
Cruise4Haiti’s many accomplishments included:
* With the help of Royal Caribbean, delivered 6 pallets of aid (about 6000 pounds of supplies) to Haiti to benefit For Haiti With Love’s medical clinic, orphanage and food bank projects in Cap Haitien. Brought donations of food, medicines, school supplies, individual gift bags and 200+ personalized cards, toys, sports equipment, and clothing for 50 orphans and more than 500 needy children and their families.
– First cruise/airline group to assist For Haiti With Love’s orphanage and projects.
* Delivered 33 individual Christmas gift bags, over 100 personalized cards, and over 120 pounds of clothing, toys, stuffed animals, school supplies, medicines, sports equipment and toiletries to the St. Maarten Orphanage & The I Can Foundation.
– First cruise ship or airline group ever to visit the orphanage.
– One group member is beginning the adoption process for one of the children.
– Forged connections for this orphanage that will result in future visits and aid.
* Delivered over 75 pounds of Christmas gifts, infant & toddler clothing, stuffed animals, toys, books, medicines and baby items to La Casa Cuna de San Juan Orphanage.
– First cruise ship group to visit this orphanage.
* Held benefit concert for the entire ship and raised money for our charities.
* Raised over $5500 in cash donations for our two charities, Airline Ambassadors and For Haiti With Love.
* Raised over $25,000 in in-kind donations for Airline Ambassadors and For Haiti With Love.
* Generated well over 3 million impressions through articles, blog posts and social media – thus significantly increasing awareness of opportunities to give back on a cruise (voluncruising), the work of For Haiti With Love and Airline Ambassadors, Royal Caribbean and its ongoing support for Haiti, and the continuing needs of the Haitian people.
* Created and executed a high-profile special event mission for Airline Ambassadors, resulting in the launch of a new product line of outreach voluncruise service programs at sea.
Together for Good, a non-profit organization promoting giving back as part of the travel experience, is the leader in organizing voluncruise and giving back experiences at sea. The group has organized programs on most major cruise lines and has brought humanitarian aid to ports throughout the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico. For more information on Together for Good, visit www.togetherforgood.org.