Earlier this year my wife and I spent an enjoyable week sailing on the Celebrity Equinox. The cruise stopped at San Juan Puerto Rico, St Maarten and St Kitts. While looking over the shore excursions before there was one that stood out in San Juan. The description on the Celebrity website read as follows:
“Enjoy a rewarding opportunity to learn about the deep-rooted culture and hurricane devastation of San Juan’s historic La Perla community while volunteering at the local community center that attends to the elderly and the Hogar Padre Venard homeless outreach shelter in Old San Juan. Known for its colorful shanty homes and longstanding musical legacy — the music video for hit song Despacito was filmed here — the seaside barrio of La Perla holds a rich history through many generations. Learn about the initiatives of Hogar Padre Venard which provides food, shelter, medical and social services to the underserved in Puerto Rico and the Casa Cortés foundation educating and inspiring the children through the arts. You can engage in one of several volunteer activities based in the community necessities: serve a meal in the soup kitchen, participate in an arts and crafts skills workshop, plant a small tree for the community garden, children storytelling and other positive impact activities — and at the day’s end you will also enjoy a private Puerto Rican meal of chicken, rice and beans, and soda. This is a great way to give back during your cruise.
We decided to go on this excursion and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. While what we did seemed like a small thing to us (packaging up some new underwear and socks to be given to the homeless when they came into the shelter to shower the next morning). It was a big deal for the person receiving the package the next day. The meal afterward was wonderful and allowed us a chance to get to know a bit about some of our fellow cruisers on the excursion.
It’s easy when on a cruise to become very self-centered on a cruise with all the staff there who make you feel that they are there for just you. This excursion really puts things in perspective and it felt good to help others in some small way.
Has anyone else done a volunteer excursion on a cruise or spent part of your vacation volunteering somewhere? Leave me a comment and tell me about your experience.