Voluntourism: it’s a growing travel trend with a bevy of feel-good followers. The combination of volunteering and tourism, dubbed “voluntourism” allows travelers to give back while onshore during their cruise vacation. If you’re looking to swap your shore excursions for some seriously heartwarming, and even fun, charitable acts here are a few ideas to get you started.

Crystal Cruises: Crystal Cares

Volunteer-minded individuals have the opportunity to get involved with important causes as part of the Crystal Adventures Shore Excursions Programs. No need to plan, Crystal takes care of all the details. The free program allows guests and crew member to give back through a variety of amazing opportunities. Here are just a few examples of voluntourism with Crystal Cares: feeding the elderly at Mercy Kitchen in Belize; planting trees to shelter the yellow-eyed penguins of Dunedin, New Zealand; assisting with daycare, meal preparation or recreational activities with the children at Smile of a Child in Navplion, Greece;  and learning about the conservation of marine life while participating in the theoretical rescue of a dolphin at the Rehabilitation Center of Prat de Llobregat in Barcelona, Spain.

Carnival Cruise Line: Give Back with Purpose

Meet Mayan descendants at a local San Miguel Village as part of Carnival’s Give Back with Purpose Excursion. Volunteers meet with locals, visit orphanages and taste traditional Mayan culinary delights all while learning how their visit helps the people of San Miguel Village.

Royal Caribbean:  Pay it Forward

Passengers looking to give back on Royal Caribbean on sailings to Montego Bay can lend their love to a local homeless shelter. At Open Heart Charitable Mission, travelers engage in a tree-planting ceremony, where they plant vegetable which will ultimately be used to feed missions. They may even choose to read and play games as part of a rehabilitation program with Refuge of Hope.

Credit: Shutterstock

Hope Floats

Hope Floats creates opportunities for passengers sailing on Caribbean cruises to volunteer on the islands while on shore excursions. Volunteers can participate in a multitude of activities including recycling and sorting alongside locals; working with the Red Cross in Belize; and working with the Bahama Human Society feeding, walking and playing with animals. Volunteers can even assist veterinarians with the medical care of animals.

These are just a few examples of how cruise companies and passengers with a willing heart make a difference in the destinations they visit. Aside from onshore excursions, cruise ships often host fundraisers and charity cruises in which they partner with different charitable organizations.