If you suffer pangs of guilt while on your cruise, or you want to give something back to the ports, you'll have an outlet for it. Royal Caribbean is rolling out a series of "voluntourism" excursions at selected ports where you can spend your day doing charitable type things. To be honest I have no interest in spending my vacation as a Red Cross volunteer or planting trees, but there obviously is an appeal or they wouldn't offer it.
I hope I don't get a reputation as the cruise chat cynic but... A co-worker spent well over 5000 dollars to take her 2 children on a missionary trip to the DR. While there, her 16 yo son worked on constructing a school... he knows nothing of working with cement or laying blocks. Perhaps the money would be better spent as a donation to fund a crew of SKILLED workers to do this construction. Then perhaps when there is a flood or an earthquake the damage would be less. I know these people feel better for having done something,and I applaud their goodwill, but have they actually just made themselves feel good, and done a dis-service to these desperately poor people who don't know any better?
The opinions expressed here are not those of the moderators of this board....just some cranky old broad who tends to look at things with a jaded eye....
Marsha, you are absolutely correct. Money placed in the proper hands is the way to go if you don't have the needed skills. I think too many people do charity work primarily to make themselves feel or look good and honestly couldn't care less about the people they are "helping".
I know two people who go on missions. My dentist is one, and he isn't building roads. He is working on teeth at a free clinic. The other guy goes to storm disaster sites and does cleanup with his chain saw. He lives in the mountains and knows what he is doing with the saw.
I can't let this go. This program is such a sham. The tours are more symbolic than substantive. And in the end it is still all about the money. I think Marsha is correct - RCI will reap the charity tax deduction, not the guests.
I just looked at these new tours. In Cozumel you will plant flowers and shrubs at the Red Cross building. Exactly how many flowers and shrubs do they need? Perhaps they'll dig them up before the next tour group arrives. In Turkey they will plant a tree "in your honor". In Venice you get a free "chorus pass" where the $13 value is supposedly used for the upkeep of local buildings. The Alaska tour offers some promise of being a valid volunteer excursion, but then it closes by saying guests will be entered in a photo contest for cash prizes.
They haven't announced the tour details for St. John, USVI, and Haiti. I anticipate those being similarly hollow.
I'm sure these charities would much prefer it if they just got the money and didn't have a bunch of tourists stumbling around with hoes, rakes, and seawater test kits.
I completely disagree with you Dave. I think it's an opportunity to help a comminity, whether it is planting flowers or building a building, it is a great way to give back. If you choose not to participate then that is your choice an that's ok. If you do choose to participate then I think it is a good thing. Who cares about a tax break or a few buck here or there. I could care less about being entered into a drawing or getting anything out of being a volunteer. This sounds to me like a good program for those who choose to do it.
I guarantee you RCI cares about a tax break. And yes, I itemize my considerable charitable deductions every year. A person is foolish not to do so.
I'll also admit to being jaded when it comes to many things. I've lived in several countries over the years, not just as a tourist or missionary. These tours were created with the least amount of liability to both the cruise line and the charities. Planting flowers gives back? No, it is just a symbolic act. How big is that Red Cross building on Cozumel anyway? Those who want to do this sort of thing on their vacation would be more useful if they grabbed a trash bag and cleaned the streets. My problem is the phoniness of these tours. If you want to spend your vacation as a migrant volunteer then go for it, after all it's your cruise.