This special “Cruise Specialists Cares” excursion will help provide much-needed school supplies for students at the rural Sunday school and also support the important work being done at the Born Free Elephant Transit Home. A portion of the tour proceeds will be donated to both organizations.
Once the tour was set in motion, the Cruise Specialists team began to gather donations of school supplies, new and lightly used books. Our staff and a local Seattle school donated/collected over 300 books! The books were then placed in to Cruise Specialists bags so that our guests on the Holland America Grand World Voyage could be part of delivering them. Cruise Specialists hosts Steven and Wendy shared the following:
It was a great experience for all. We arrived at the school in a caravan of open air SUV’s.
The kids – at least 100 strong, all dressed in white and very excited to see us – put on a show. There were several singers, dancers, and even a short play. We didn’t understand any of it, but it was charming. Short speeches by the head of school and Tom Mullen and then it was outside to distribute the books.
Some of our Guests were disappointed that we didn’t have enough bags to give every child one, but the kids didn’t seem upset and we think they understood that this was all to be shared. A few of our guests brought large bags of candy, which were enough for everyone to get something. One couple also brought a large duffle bag filled with school supplies.
After visiting the school it was on to Udawalawe National Park to experience a game drive. The park was established in 1972 to provide refuge for wild animals that were displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe reservoir. The park is home to herds of elephants, sloth bear, spotted deer, wild boar, water buffalo, plus a myriad of bird life.
After an approximately two hour game drive, it was time to visit Kalu’s Hideaway Resort for lunch. This eco-resort is owned by the famous Sri Lankan cricketer Mr. Romesh Kaluwitharana, who was one of the key players to win the 1996 ICC world cup for Sri Lanka. After lunch, the Cruise Specialists guests continued to the Born Free Elephant Transit Home. Established in 1995, the Elephant Transit Home cares for abandoned elephant calves until they are old enough to fend for themselves and be released into the park. At the Transit Home, they have access to both food and medical care, but are kept within the park to retain awareness of their natural habitat. The Transit Home also provides a humane alternative to taking abandoned animals into permanent captivity.
All in all, an amazing day for everyone involved and just another way that Cruise Specialists seeks to provide unique and memorable experiences.