Crystal expands ‘voluntourism’ program

After a successful inaugural year of voluntourism around the world, Crystal Cruises is extending its “You Care, We Care”program with new hands-on opportunities throughout 2012. This year, every Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony voyage offers one complimentary shore excursion in which both guests and crew can give back to a local community-in-need, with Crystal handling all the logistics. Of the more than 45 socially responsible excursions completed last year, several philanthropic destinations are back on the 2012 calendar, accompanied by new international additions such as: Cambodia: Teach children the arts, plus plant a vegetable garden, at an orphanage; British Columbia: Stock, pack, and distribute food and toys at a local food bank; Singapore: Help literacy-challenged children to read; South Korea: Bring goodwill to a home for underprivileged children. “The feedback from this program has been incredible, with stories of tears, hugs, pen pals, and generousity above and beyond anything we could have hoped for,”says Thomas Mazloum, senior vice-president operations. “We are thrilled to continue to ‘pay it forward’ as we sail the world in 2012.”Additional locales featuring the program in 2012 include Cartagena, Colombia; Willemstad, Curaçao; Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain; Livorno, Italy; Athens, Greece; Tallinn, Estonia; Rostock, Germany; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Honolulu; and Boston, among others. Last year, participants fed homeless donkeys in Antigua; supported conservation efforts at an Oregon state park; tended to rescued sea turtles in Athens; helped garden outside an elderly domicile in Dubrovnik; rehabbed an educational salmon hatchery in Alaska; planted trees in New Zealand and Australia; bonded with disabled adults in Tuscany and the Canary Islands; played with underprivileged children in Uruguay, Peru, St. Martin, Rio, Fiji, and South Africa; and gathered and distributed food and supplies in Israel, Santa Barbara, Nova Scotia, Boston, Estonia, and New Brunswick. (