If money can’t buy happiness, perhaps a cruise with a cause can. Studies show that giving and acts of altruistic importance create lasting happiness responses in ways that salary increases and financial gains cannot.
Brain scans by neuroscientists at the National Institute of Health confirm that just envisioning altruism, such as giving money to a charity, parts of the brain light up that are normally associated with selfish, sometimes guilty, pleasures.
Crystal Cruises has embraced this knowledge and created voluntourism experiences worldwide that passengers can join and help change the world by doing one of the most selfish acts a human can do: help others and feel happy.
Crystal Cruises You Care, We Care program runs during Crystal Serenity’s 89-day, Los Angeles to London global journey that departs January 18, 2014. Passengers on that cruise can volunteer to help underprivileged children, the earth’s ecology, communities in crisis, and other important issues in Hawaii, Asia, and/or Africa, with Crystal handling all costs and logistics. Typically, Crystal offers one complimentary “voluntour” per cruise, always aiding a small, local organization. However, the World Cruise’s five segments next year provide seven significant excursions in seven different ports. Assistance opportunities include:
- Gardening and weeding Honolulu’s Makapu’u Beach to help preserve dwindling native plant life.
- Helping build structures and clean playgrounds at Father’s Home Care Ministries’ home for disadvantaged children in Takoradi, Ghana .
- Reading to underprivileged children to improve literacy as part of Singapore’s LIFE program (offered on two World Cruise segments).
- Teaching, singing, gardening and playing with orphans in Sihanoukville, Cambodia ;
- Preparing meals, babysitting, or reading to the abandoned, abused, neglected or orphaned children of Baphumelele Children’s Home near Cape Town, South Africa .
- Crafting the commemorative candles to be lit at Nagasaki ‘s annual Peace Ceremony, in remembrance of the lives lost to WWII’s atomic bomb.
- Engaging in the day-to-day programs (knitting, gardening, schoolwork, etc.) of the orphaned children raised and cared for by families in Durban, South Africa ‘s SOS Children’s Village.
“Our You Care, We Care participants have cherished connecting to the destinations in such an intimate, interactive, and compassionate way,” says Thomas Mazloum, Crystal’s executive vice president. “They love seeing facets of a culture not usually visited on a luxury vacation, and return to the ship feeling like they may have made a difference, however small or large. Just a few hours together can be incredibly informative, enriching, and so memorable, for both the recipients and those giving.”
Since launching in 2011, Crystal’s You Care, We Care program has aided more than 50 in-need communities around the world, with new organizations constantly reviewed by the Land Programs team. Some communities are visited just once a year, while others have been visited several times a season. Recent excursions have included:
-St. John, New Brunswick : Sorting donated clothing and serving food to refugees and other less fortunate at the Romero House community food kitchen.
-Cartagena, Colombia : Aiding impoverished “barrio” villagers via the Granitos de Paz Foundation.
-Barcelona : Helping protect endangered marine life at the CRAM Foundation for the Rehabilitation and Conservation of Marine Animals.
-Belfast : Contributing to conservation efforts for a 200 year-old British garden.
-Lunenberg: Raising funds to help operate the no-kill SHAID Animal Shelter.
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