Tuesday 7 October 2008

Cruise Weekly Comment: Giving Back

Cruise Weekly – Comment by Roderick Eime

Expedition and adventure cruising is all about rewarding and enriching experiences and one of the best examples is giving back to the tiny remote communities you visit.

My recent trip to PNG aboard Orion reminded me of the immense satisfaction one gets by making small and inexpensive donations to these villages. Stuff we take for granted like school books, Band-Aids and paracetamol are prized commodities in some of these isolated places. I made an impromptu visit to a village on Fergusson Island, north of Alotau, and asked to see the school library and hospital. I've seen more books in better condition in my local Vinnies store and the hospital was barely a sick bay. Even as I chatted with the nursing sister in charge, a young woman was carried in unconscious and burning with fever. There wasn't even a Panadol to give her and I watched on helplessly, wringing my hands.

Please, if you are about to embark on an expedition cruise, ask your tour company earnestly about what supplies you can take with you in your spare luggage space. They should be well versed about what items are needed at your destination. Forget cash, toys, sweets and knick-knacks, bring first-aid supplies, old primary school text books, stationery items, reading glasses and children's clothes.

From my experience, this form of constructive interaction strengthens our relationships without compromising the integrity or culture of the community and delivers an enormous sense of gratification among passengers. The look of profound disappointment on the faces of those travellers who came empty handed is something I hope never to see again.

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