The Current

Aid experts skeptical of voluntourism's corporate slant

From shuffleboard on the lido deck to planting crops with a women's cooperative in the Dominican Republic... Carnival cruise line kicks off a for-profit venture that combines tourism, volunteer work, and aid to developing countries. But could these charitable cruisers do more harm than good?
The rise in popularity of voluntourism is raising questions about the value of these experiences. Critics say volunteer trips often help the tourist and tour companies but not the people needing the aid. Others say the impact to these communities are life-changing. (Volunteer Abroad UBELONG/Flickr cc)
In 2016, Carnival Cruise will offer packages to do humanitarian work in the Dominican Republic.

Fathom is the newest cruise offering from Carnival -- the world's largest cruise ship operator. But unlike its predecessors, fathom's passengers have a special mission in mind. Instead of just visiting their cruise destinations -- they'll be volunteering there. 

Their first trip to the Dominican Republic will be in April, with a starting fare of $1500 US dollars per person.

To tell us more about what passengers sign up for, we reached fathom's president and global impact leader at Carnival Cruise Lines, Tara Russell, in Seattle.  

Mixing your holiday with charity work might seem like a noble alternative to an all-inclusive. But aid agencies and NGOs have long questioned what voluntourism is actually achieving.   

Samantha Nutt is the founder of War Child Canada -- an NGO that does work across the developing world. She's also a physician and the author of "Damned Nations: Greed, Guns, Armies, and Aid".

Have you volunteered abroad? What are your thoughts on today's discussion?

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This segment was produced by The Current's Ines Colabrese and Marc Apollonio.

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