When it comes to shore-side excursions,  options today  take the experiences to new levels.  And this is where luxury line, Crystal Cruises continues to lead the way with ones that can best be described as  providing exclusivity, private, “one of a kind” and unique. Their new  collection of “Boutique Adventures” includes a new, industry-first spiritual adventure in Rio de Janeiro. Also, they’ve added some new, enlightening shore excursions as a part of  their  “You Care, We Care”  Voluntourism  program in 2013 as well.

More about the industry first – private mass at Rio’s Most Famous Monument

On  the upcoming  March 10  Rio to Miami “Exotic Amazon” voyage which overnights in Rio de Janeiro, Crystal Cruises offers its guests an opportunity to celebrate a private Mass at Our Lady of Aparecida Chapel. This remote chapel  is located at the base of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, one of the world’s Seven Wonders.  A private  mass service will be held at 5pm, and led by Monsignor Davis, Crystal Cruises’ English speaking, onboard priest.  The church made a special exception for Monsignor Davis to lead the services.

Crystal Cruises’ Land  Programs team spent more than a year working on this event, gaining approval from Rio’s diocese, which was finally secured in January.  The Chapel, which is located 2,500 above the sea, was named for the patron saint of Brazil and built for the statue’s 75th anniversary. The Christ the Redeemer excursion is  available for $145 per guest, and limited to 15 guests.  It’s just one of many intimate shore-side experiences offered exclusively to Crystal’s travelers, called “Boutique Adventures.”

Continued commitment to giving back via “You Care, We Care” Voluntourism

Crystal Cruises first launched its “You Care, We Care” program in 2011 and has continued to grow it with more opportunities in 2013.This industry first program allows guests and crew members to take part in a volunteer excursion (complimentary)  while sailing on the Crystal Symphony or the Crystal Serenity. Crystal Cruises’ covers the costs for crew and guests to participate and makes all the logistic arrangements. Areas include supporting disadvantaged communities, helping underprivileged children, aiding animals at rescue and rehabilitation centers,  and feeding the hungry through food serving, orchard picking, and donation distribution.

Some samples of “You Care, We Care” excursions

For instance, with the  “Helping Homeless Find Way Home” voluntourism adventure in Odessa, Ukraine,  guests and staff are taken to a social services center run by The Way Home, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping the homeless. Volunteers help in the daily work of running the organization, which can range from helping children with homework,  organizing activities, improving the grounds, or helping with some administrative work.

The “Visiting Domus Christi, a Home for the Elderly” voluntourism  adventure takes place in Dubrovnik. Domus Christi  was built back in 1347 when the city council decided to build a shelter  for the elderly, poor and infirmed. Today it serves 100 people in need, with more on a wait list.  During the visit, volunteers can  meet with the residents, accompany them on a walk to the Old Port, or help with gardening.

More options to explore for your group when planning your next cruise

 Today’s travelers enjoy more interactive experiences as well as embracing the culture of the destinations they visit, and  this is no different for your group members. And many enjoy ways to give back.

With their continued  commitment to “You Care, We Care” complimentary Voluntourism experiences, as well as their “Boutique Adventures,” yes, Crystal Cruises continues to “raise the bar.”