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Past Webcast - October 23, 2007
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VT Cast #11: Cruise VolunTourism

Synopsis

What is the Cruise Industry doing to embrace VolunTourism? Guests discuss the socially responsible aspects of Cruising which includes "greening," philanthropy, and efforts to support destination residents, cultures, and the environment through voluntary service.

[Listen To The Cast] (Click Here To Download)

Guests

Melissa Baldwin, CruiseCritic.com [Bio]; Jeff Krida, CruiseWest.com [Bio]; and Barry Vaudrin, of GlobalCruiseCenters.com [Bio].

Quotables

[What is the impetus behind the movement of the cruise lines toward social responsibility... is it the industry, the consumers, or both?]

"I definitely do think that it's both the industry and the consumers. When we actually were researching Cruise West's program, they were the only cruise line that offered a very specific program for people that wanted to go ashore and volunteer. But there's lots of smaller things, like I said, that are being done; and people do want to participate.

I think if you look at Holland America, they do an On-Deck for the Cure program - - where people sign-up, I believe it's fifteen dollars and they do a walk on board. And seventy-five percent of that money goes to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Fund; and then the rest of it is to provide a t-shirt and a pink lemonade party for guests, and it's been wildly successful. People want these opportunities to get involved, and the cruise industry is responding to that.

In terms of "green" cruising, I think because all of the cruise lines have a very specific way that they are going about it, I think they are self-motivated. I don't necessarily know that it's coming down from an industry overhead, or it's not necessarily from a mandate. I mean there are certain things that are required by the government: they're required to purchase in bulk; and they're required to use efficient packaging and reuse packaging; and recycle glass and metals and wood and cardboard. But they're not required to do all of these extra programs, and they're doing them." Melissa Baldwin

[Listen To This Quote]

[In relation to consumer and employee responses to Cruise West's VolunTourism initiatives]

"Well, there's a small group of our past customers that are beginning to ask, 'what are we doing next?' But there also is a, wonderfully, a group of those people that participated in some of our hands-on projects in the Darien Jungle in Panama and at the La Paz Orphanage in Baja California, for example, that have continued to support those programs that we run at those places on their own, well after our project ended that they participated in.

One of our customers is a Rotary Club, Rotary International, member in his hometown and after we did a 'paint the one-room school building' in Embera Indian Village in the Darien Jungle in Panama together two years ago, he went back and did a whole slide presentation to his Rotary Club and they ended up providing a blackboard and desks and had them shipped to Panama for this school - - totally outside of Cruise West's promotion. We helped coordinate the transportation for the equipment; so we see that going on.

We're trying to stay very focused on a relatively small number of projects at each one of our destinations so that we can do them well. And what we've found is the enthusiasm in our employee group has, I guess it's been a suprise to us, it's a wonderful thing that's happened. We find that running these programs has even become a retention program for employees in our company. A lot of our employees, and younger ones, are very jazzed about the fact that they work for a company that, not only does this, but gives them time to participate.

In the exploration cruise business, as you can imagine, we have a number of employees that are kind of free spirits, world explorers, want to make a difference anyway; if they weren't working for us, they'd probably be in the Peace Corps or something. And it gives them a reason to stay committed to their jobs at the company because we do this and they're involved. So our Bear Cares Foundation was actually sanctioned by the company and formally founded by the company but it was really initiated by employee crew members that, in learning the intimate needs of a destination where we sailed, started raising money, and making donations, and helping the local needs on their own. So it wasn't something that management can take credit for dreaming up, it really came from the ranks and the energy behind it is really growing." Jeff Krida

[Listen To This Quote]

[On the model for VolunTourism Initiatives that Global Cruise Centers plans to use...]

"David, what we would like to do, what our mission is, what we aspire to, is to set up a small group of people in a number of ports where they basically manage and run a shore excursion, but the shore excursion is not like your typical shore excursion. So we would basically like to set up a permanent shore excursion program in a number of ports.

Now these programs would be designed to go deep into the community to help out with a number of ongoing needs in those communities. And, so, week after week as these big cruise ships pull into like Puerto Vallarta, for example, every week, on any given day, there might be two or three ships in that port. And every week there might be four or five or six ships that visit that port, so almost every day during the week there's a ship in that port. And each of those ships have two or three thousand passengers on board, more like two thousand, and if there was a shore excursion that they could choose, I think we would have a market for that.

I think there's a market for people that would like to make a difference and to reach out to the community. But if it was packaged, as a shore excursion, that's mentioned on board by the port lecturer, or something, or the tour operator, then I think that we would get a lot of people that would want to participate in this special, unique shore excursion that allows the passengers to give back, to reach out, to help out in some way." Barry Vaudrin

[Listen To This Quote]

Guest Bios

Melissa Baldwin, Managing Editor, CruiseCritic.com

Melissa Baldwin covers the “green cruising” beat for Cruise Critic, a critically acclaimed interactive community comprised of avid and first-time cruisers who enjoy the fun of planning, researching and sharing their passion for cruising. She has covered the industry’s response and responsibility to environmental issues in news stories, features and interactive reader polls. Melissa’s personal and professional dedication to travel has taken her to South America, the South Pacific and Europe, and throughout the U.S. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Magazine Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

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Jeffrey D. Krida - CEO, CruiseWest.com

Jeff Krida, president and chief executive officer, joined small-ship cruise line Cruise West in 2000. Cruise West’s specializes in delivering enriching experiences for inquisitive independent travelers that are keen on natural and cultural history. The cruises are destination focused and give an “insiders” point of view in an up-close, casual and personal style. Itineraries on the fleet of nine ships include North and Central America, the South Pacific and Asia.

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Krida, a 40-year veteran of the travel industry, began his career with American Airlines at age 20, “to pay for college.” He has since been committed to exploration, discovery, and building tourism related businesses. His past positions include president and co-founder of RiverBarge Excursion Lines, Inc., president and chief operating officer of The Delta Queen Steamboat Company, senior vice president of sales and distribution in the airline industry, and vice president of operations at Thomas Cook Travel.

Krida earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Foreign Affairs from The America University, completed two Graduate School of Business Executive Programs at Columbia University (’76) and Stanford University (’90) and was an “Entrepreneur in Residence” at Tulane University Graduate School of Business. He is currently on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Passenger Vessel Association, and the Alaska Natural History Association. Krida is also a Lifetime Fellow of the Institute of Certified Travel Agents (The Travel Institute).

Past associations include Delegate, the Clinton White House Conference on Tourism; Chairman, Mayor Morial’s Tourism Transition Team, City of New Orleans, and U.S. Navy, Airborne Crew, Anti-submarine Warfare Squadron.

Krida and wife, Rebecca, reside in Seattle, Washington.

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Barry Vaudrin, Founder, GlobalCruiseCenters.com

Barry Vaudrin had a passion for the history of the trans-Atlantic liners like the Queen Mary, the Mauretania, the Normandie, SS United States and the QE2. Many of the ocean liners were transformed into cruise ships, so Barry’s interest in the liners also moved with the times as more and more liners became cruise ships. A pivotal time in the cruise industry, was when Norwegian Cruise Lines took a huge risk and purchased one of the more famous ocean liners in history that was laid up…the SS France. The SS France, the longest ocean liner ever built, was transformed into the SS Norway and began service in 1981. Barry had it in his mind in the early eighties to someday open up a cruise-only travel business, because he could see a trend in the travel industry that cruising was gaining momentum as a vacation option. Also, there was a need for the cruise-only travel business, because it was too difficult for travel agents to become specialist in all forms of travel and know everything there is to know about the cruise industry too. Barry found that the travel agent community was seriously lacking in knowledge of the cruise industry, so he was determined to someday open up a cruise-only travel business that specialized in helping people find the right cruise.

In 1986, Barry Vaudrin applied for a membership to Cruise Lines International Association, or CLIA, and he began selling cruises from his dorm room in college. To gain practical experience with the cruise industry, in 1989 Barry signed-on to work aboard the cruise ships as an entertainer and finally a Cruise Director. In 1992, Barry lived out one of his wildest fantasies when he signed-on to work aboard the famous ocean liner, the QE2. In 1993 Barry created a business called Global Cruise Centers…a cruise-only business. Since then Barry has strived to provide expert cruise planning for his customers. Barry offers his first-hand experience and unique knowledge of the cruise industry to plan cruises for groups and individuals like only an expert would be able to do. Global Cruise Centers is a specialized business with an expert-level culmination of over 25 years of cruise experience.

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VolunTourism:
A seamlessly integrated combination of voluntary service to a destination and the best, traditional elements of travel—arts, culture, geography, and history—in that destination.

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