Holland America Expands Do-Good Shore Excursions

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There's new proof not everyone comes onto cruise ships to party and otherwise indulge.

Holland America Line says it is expanding its "Cruise with Purpose" program, due to popular demand. The program offers guests a chance to engage in "meaningful volunteer work" on shore excursions.

The line last year began offering guests on Alaska cruises a chance to volunteer, including on an excursion from Juneau where they could help scientists document humpback and orca whale sightings.

Now the volunteer opportunities are being expanded internationally.

The line's passengers will be able to book shore excursions to participate in sea turtle release in Acapulco; plant a gum tree at a koala sanctuary in Brisbane, Australia; interact with orphans at a school in Nicaragua; and get hands-on at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand, among more than a dozen "volunteer" options.

"People want to make a difference and they are looking for more on vacation," says Richard Meadows, executive vice president of marketing for Holland America. "Excursions have changed."

Luxury line Crystal Cruises recently announced it too is launching its own "Voluntourism" program in Malta, where passengers can "Go Green" by planting trees in the island's only national park, visit an organic farm and donate food to a local orphanage.

Like Holland America, Crystal plans to expand its "You Care, We Care" program in 2011.



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