World Humanitarian Day is observed annually Aug. 19 to pay tribute to the inspirational aid workers who risk their lives every day in the name of humanitarian services, as well as to rally support for people affected by crises around the world.
In honor of this special day, we’re sharing five EXC Tours that allow Holland America Line guests to give back during their cruise. Our carefully crafted Cruise with Purpose Collection of shore excursions provides the opportunity to “pay-it-forward” through various activities in destinations all over the globe. Whether you’re participating in scientific research or assisting local farmers with their coffee production, you’ll find these specialized tours offer a number of meaningful ways to lend a helping hand.
DISCOVER ALASKA’S WHALES
Put your personal travel ethos to practice and leave the Last Frontier even better than you found it on this fascinating Cruise with Purpose adventure!
On this small-group outing, you’ll travel aboard a fully-permitted research vessel for a closer look into the habitat of majestic humpback whales. The vessel offers a low-to-the-water build, large opening panel windows, a heated cabin and an open bow and stern — features specifically designed to meet the challenges of observing Alaska’s wildlife.
As you head out from Auke Bay’s quaint harbor, your guide will share the current understanding of humpback whale research and what is known about their activities and feeding patterns. You’ll explore the foundation of the food chain by drawing plankton samples, taking a look at live sea animals in a touch tank and using a GPS camera to identify whale species while recording their various behaviors.
Whale sightings are guaranteed on this tour and you’re also likely to see seals, porpoise, sea lions and other marine animals, all while doing some significant good as you contribute to the whale research program. Enjoy the feeling of being a marine scientist for a day, knowing your efforts have made a contribution to understanding the delicate marine environs of Southeast Alaska and the whales’ interaction with their habitat.
Interested in this tour? Check out Westerdam’s seven-day Inside Passage, Sept. 23, 2018.
DOMINICAN COFFEE: A LOCAL EXPERIENCE
Amber Cove, Dominican Republic
Calling all gourmet coffee fanatics! Join this journey into the mountains by open-air safari truck. The ride is half the fun and the views are breathtaking.
Venture off the beaten track and into the beautiful Dominican tropical forest to experience the legendary flavor of world-famous Dominican coffee. You’ll get to meet local farmers, hear their stories and learn the ins and outs of coffee production, from bean to brew.
Enjoy a cup (or two) of joe and put all your caffeinated energy to work by planting coffee seedlings and taking a turn at roasting the beans. You quickly fall for the flavor and aroma of truly great coffee, while getting an up-close look at the origins of your favorite morning ritual!
Your participation helps to support economic opportunity for hardworking families, increasing income and well-being for coffee-growers, creating employment opportunities, as well as keeping families and communities together.
VIVA THE KIDS: BRINGING THE GENERATIONS TOGETHER
This rewarding tour provides the perfect opportunity to make a positive contribution, as you’ll get to socialize with local Nicaraguan children during your visit to the Betania Foundation — a 10-acre property that’s host to 400 kids.
After a scenic drive, you will arrive at the Betania Foundation. Enjoy the lively energy of the elementary school kids and visit the educational center for teens where they’re taught various skills such as carpentry, arts, sewing and mechanics. You’ll also have the pleasure of being the guest of a young, local guide who will lead you through the impressive Chorotega Museum. Home to 1,500 indigenous pieces, the museum showcases the best collection of pre-Columbian artifacts in the region.
Practice your Spanish with the kids or simply enjoy what they have to offer you — a big smile and a lot of hope for their future!
Interested in this tour? Check out Volendam’s 15-day Panama Canal cruise, Nov. 3, 2018.
CACAO & WOMENS CHOCOLATE COOPERATIVE
Amber Cove, Dominican Republic
Working in cooperation with Fathom Impact Travel, we are delighted to offer this Cruise with Purpose opportunity for you to make an impact in the Puerto Plata community. You’ll participate in a hands-on visit to a chocolate factory founded by the enterprising women of the Dominican Republic. This endeavor is the result of a search for meaningful work that will allow them to support their families.
At a local nursery, you’ll begin with the cultivation of the cocoa plant by preparing organic soil and planting cocoa seeds. In the chocolate factory, you’ll work alongside the women of Chocal at various workstations. Together, you transform the cocoa bean into a delicious chocolate bar. Then, help the women package the chocolate and prepare it for sale.
By helping to improve production and increase sales, you’ll also be helping the organization to thrive so it can hire more local women, providing critical income in a region with limited employment opportunities.
Interested in this tour? Check out Veendam’s 12-day Cuban Explorer cruise, Oct. 17, 2018.
AUTHENTIC EMBERA NATIVE VILLAGE TO COLON
Gatun Lake, Panama
Your motor coach will double as a virtual time machine as you travel back more than 600 years to a Central America few people ever experience. This journey allows you to glimpse into the lives of the Emberá Native tribe — a proud people who maintain their traditions and lifestyle as it was before the Spaniards colonized Panama.
As you venture into the lush jungles of the Central Region, a knowledgeable guide will provide you with an overview of Panama, including the history and customs of the Emberá Natives, known as the keepers of the rain forest and the Chagres River. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled, as the region is known for its abundant wildlife that is particularly active along the river’s edge!
Upon arrival at Chagres National Park, you’ll leave your motor coach to board a dug-out canoe that will take you to the Emberá village. The dug-outs are sturdy crafts that played a critical role in the conquering of the jungle and in establishing supply lines for both natives and Spaniards.
Motoring up-river, you will see the village emerge from the jungle. The chief will welcome you with traditional Emberá hospitality. Feel free to wander through the village, ask questions and interact with these quiet people.
The Emberá men and woman are spectacular craftspeople and have produced some beautiful items available for purchase as souvenirs of this unique experience.
Interested in this tour? Check out Zuiderdam’s 10-day Panama Canal Sunfarer cruise, Nov. 4, 2018.
Which of these tours would you choose to pay-it-forward? Tell us in the comments below!