Luxury line Crystal Cruises earned a place in my heart several years back when it became the first travel industry supporter of the Condé Nast Traveler Five & Alive Fund. That program that I developed in partnership with the magazine and leading global health NGO PSI raised money to save the lives of children under 5 from malaria, malnutrition and other diseases.
This year, the cruise line goes a step further by offering excursions focused on social responsibility in certain ports of call with a program called “You Care, We Care.” The range of opportunities is intriguing—from working with children at the ANQUIEM Burn rehabilitation center in Lima to digging into urban organic farming with Granitos de Paz Foundation in Cartagena. These shore excursions are complimentary, and crewmembers will participate as well.
In a prime example of the power of the supply chain, Crystal challenged their on-the-ground tour operators to create experiences that would contribute meaningfully. “Initially, some of our Ground Operators questioned whether these experiences would have enough our typical Six-Star amenities,” says John Stoll vice president, land and port operations. “We reminded them that we understood that these opportunities would be less refined. The contribution is selfless—yet the wonderful byproduct is that these experiences will surely be authentically enriching and rewarding.”
As often is the case with the travel industry and social responsibility, the little guys lead the way. Look at the positive affect Crystal is having with just two ships. I’m poptimistic that the behemoths will follow.