Holland America Line’s innovative Cruise with Purpose Collection of shore excursions is centered on improving our planet one voyage at a time. For thoughtful cruisers who wants to give back or pay it forward, these tours provide the perfect opportunity in destinations around the world. Assist in scientific research, bring much-needed supplies to an orphanage, participate in a fair trade program or cultural exchange, replant native forest or restore fragile habitat — we provide meaningful ways for you to help at these destinations.
Lisbon, Portugal: Tagus Estuary Wetlands: A Bird Watchers’ Paradise
Calling all bird lovers! The Tagus Estuary Wetlands tour at Lisbon, Portugal, takes you into the heart of one of Europe’s great countries. Portugal is a hotspot for bird watching, thanks to its rich habitat and a relatively small population. Many types of species congregate in the country’s protected wetlands including at its finest — Tagus Estuary Nature Reserve. Seasonally, the wetland is home to more than 120,000 waders, waterfowl and other aquatic birds, and during migratory periods you can observe more than 100 different species in a single day.
Part of your entry fee to Tagus Estuary helps ensure that this corridor of safety for European birds is maintained and improved. The Institute for Conservancy of Nature & Biodiversity uses the proceeds to operate the Estuary.
Huatulco, Mexico: Rural Communities & Traditions
Go to the heart of Oaxaca on the off-the-beaten-track Rural Communities & Traditions tour at Huatulco, Mexico. On this excursion, you’ll head into the communities adjacent to the Huatulco resort area and learn about their cultural and social characteristics, and get involved with local habits and customs. This tour offers a glimpse into the roots of Mexico at four small communities where your tour fee will help support small, family-owned businesses. At these communities you’ll learn about local liquors, watch tortillas and tamales be made, and visit a cactus plantation to sample cactus. You’ll also visit the Iguanas Wildlife Handing Unit that was established in Piedra de Moros to foster reproduction and release of reptiles.
Juneau, Alaska: Discover Alaska’s Whales
Alaska is beautiful and memorable, and you have the opportunity to leave it better than you found it on the Discover Alaska’s Whales tour at Juneau. This small-group outing takes guests on a research vessel for a closer look into the habitat of humpback whales. As you head out from Auke Bay, a guide will share information about humpback whale research and what is known about the activities and feeding patterns of the whales in Alaska. Unlike many animal tours, whale sightings are guaranteed on this one, and you’re also likely to see seals, porpoise and sea lions. You’ll get to be a marine scientist for a day, drawing plankton samples and using a GPS camera to identify whale species while recording their various behaviors. Your work will help researches continue to understand these whales.
Reykjavik, Iceland: Iceland Tomorrow: Planting for the Future & the Ancient Ring of Fire
The Iceland Tomorrow tour at Reykjavik first takes guests to circle the active Hengill Volcano, located just a couple miles from the city. Hengill produces hydro and geothermal power, providing the capital with hot water and electricity. At the Hellisheidi Geothermal Plant Visitor’s Centre you’ll learn more about how it works. Next you’ll head to the town of Hveragerdi, featuring bubbling hot springs, and follow the River Solid past the Ljossafoss Hydro Station to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Thingvellir.
The Cruise with Purpose portion of this tour involves planting a tree. At the time of Iceland’s settlement (in the 9th century), an estimated one-fourth of the country was covered by woodlands but today just a little over 1 percent of Iceland is forest. You’ll take part in Iceland’s afforestation program, planting a tree in your own name.
Fuerte Amador, Panama: Authentic Emberá Native Village
During a call at Fuerte Amador, Panama, you can travel back more than 600 years to a Central America few people ever experience with the Authentic Emberá Native Village tour. This journey into the lives of the Emberá Native tribe highlights a proud people who maintain their traditions and lifestyles as they were before the Spaniards colonized Panama.
Your guide will give you an overview of Panama and share the history and culture of the natives. The Emberá people are keepers of the rain forest and the Chagres river, which you’ll see with a visit to Chagres National Park. At the park you’ll board a dug-out canoe to get to the village. The chief will welcome you with traditional Emberá hospitality and a series of dances. Guests can wander through the village and interact with the locals. The Emberá people make some incredible crafts so be ready to shop for a souvenir to remember your experience.
Brisbane, Australia: City Sights, Koala Sanctuary & Tree Planting
The City Sights, Koala Sanctuary & Tree Planting tour in Brisbane, Australia, lets you do a little bit of everything. Begin with a tour of historic Brisbane, passing Parliament House, the Treasury Building, City Hall and the Old Customs House. You’ll head to the top of Mt. Coot-tha. to enjoy spectacular views over the city. Next, you’ll head to what might be the most adorable part of the tour: a visit to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. This is the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary and you’ll love getting up close with some of its sleepy residents.
The Cruise with Purpose portion of the tour involves planting a gum tree in the sanctuary’s eucalyptus plantation. By doing so you will be helping to provide a habitat for local wildlife, reduce carbon emissions and feed Australia’s koala population by helping to meet their needs for increasingly scarce food resources.
Aside from getting to cuddle and take a photo with a koala, you’ll also have the opportunity to hand-feed a kangaroo and see platypus and other Australian animals.
If you’re taking a Holland America Line cruise to one of these destinations, remember you can pre-book your tours here so you don’t miss out.
Have you participated in a Cruise with Purpose tour? Tell us about it in the comments below. Or tell us which one of these piques your interest the most!