Holland America Line’s innovative pilot program, Cruise With PurposeSM, enables cruise guests to participate in meaningful community volunteer work and scientific data collection on specially designed tours. Beginning in Alaska this summer, select tour operators, partnered with local non-profit organizations, will offer guests the chance to contribute some of their time to assisting with projects.

These unique excursions build traditional tour content around volunteer and ‘citizen science’ opportunities provided by association with the non-profit partners. The first Cruise with PurposeSM tour will be offered in Juneau, Alaska from May through September 2009.

“By combining a tour experience with a volunteer opportunity, guests are experiencing the destination in a different, rewarding way,” said Richard D. Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs.

In Juneau, local tour operator Gastineau Guiding has created the first Cruise With PurposeSM shore excursion in partnership with the Alaska Sea Grant’s Marine Advisory Program and the Alaska Marine Conservation Alliance. Designed especially for Holland America Line, the Marine Wildlife Research Exploration takes guests on an exploration vessel out of Auke Bay to look for and help document individual humpback and orca whales. Guests will identify individual whales by their tail “fingerprints” and record their songs using an underwater microphone called a hydrophone. Participants will also collect water samples, trawl for plankton and record ocean temperature readings. Since plankton is a significant indicator in predicting the success of Alaska’s salmon runs, this data will help manage this precious wild resource. All collected data and water samples are contributed to the body of research maintained by Alaska Sea Grant’s Marine Advisory Program.

The beach landing vessel will then make a one-hour stop at a secluded cove or shoreline where guests then turn into volunteer beachcombers. A naturalist-guide provides interpretation on the flora and fauna of the area as guests help pick up any non-native debris in support of the Alaska Marine Conservation Alliance’s efforts.

The cost of this Cruise With PurposeSM offering is $219 per person. At the tour’s conclusion, guests receive a Cruise with PurposeSM VolunTour pin, and will be able to track the projects they contributed to at the program’s web page http://www.hollandamerica.com/cruise-destinations/ShoreExcursions.action. Click on the Cruise With PurposeSM tab.