Past Parrot Lover's Cruise goers have helped release wild macaws in Mexico.
On November 2, 2014, a group of parrot lovers from all over the world will converge in Galveston, Texas, and board a Royal Caribbean cruise ship headed toward bird-related ports of call. This will be the sixth such cruise, which in past years has drawn about 80 guests (out of around 3,000 total passengers), who are treated to avian seminars and activities led by some of the most famous names in birds.
In the past, speakers on the cruise have included Steve Martin of Natural Encounters in Winter Haven, Florida; Susan Friedman, Ph.D., who pioneered the application of Applied Training Analysis to captive and companion animals; James Morissey, head of exotics at Cornell University; Phoebe Greene Linden of Santa Barbara Bird Farm; and several staff from the World Parrot Trust, including the director Jamie Gilardi. In 2014, the cruise will feature James Morissey; Cassie Malinda, a member of Steve Martin's team at NEI; and Sam Williams from Echo, an organization dedicated to protecting the Yellow-Shouldered Amazon on Bonaire, where he resides.
Each year, Parrot Lover’s Cruise creator and coordinator, Carol Cipriano of Carol’s Travel Time in Pennsylvania, organizes port-of-call excursions tailor made for parrot lovers.
Darlene T. Carver of Ijamsville, Maryland, who lives with 15 parrots, has been on four Parrot Lover’s cruises, and is booked to take the 2014 voyage.
"We usually sit in the same vicinity at four to six tables set up for our group,” Carver said. "The speakers sit at different tables each night so everyone has an ‘up close and personal’ encounter with the speakers. There is also an ‘all-girls’ table made up of single girls. My first year at that table was fabulous. We were the loudest group, laughed all night and bonded with our waiters. The other tables kept wondering why we were having so much fun.”
The Parrot Lover’s cruise isn’t just for fun – there are onboard raffles and auctions, and the funds raised from these events, as well as a portion of the conference fees, goes to support the conservation efforts of the World Parrot Trust.
Each year, Parrot Lover’s Cruise creator and coordinator, Carol Cipriano of Carol’s Travel Time in Hawley, Pennsylvania, organizes port-of-call excursions tailor made for parrot lovers.
"We have trekked through the rainforest to see wild parrots in Dominica; visited a bird rescue for Amazons in Belize; released scarlet macaws into the rain forest in Mexico; visited a preserve in Puerto Rico and saw the beautiful Puerto Rican Amazon; toured Bonaire to see wild parrots flying free; visited Steve Martin to see the macaws in free flight; and went to the beautiful gardens in Grand Cayman to see birds in the wild and hear about efforts to preserve them,” Cipriano said. "There’s nothing quite like seeing a parrot flying free to help us appreciate the wondrous creatures we have in our living rooms.”
Carver said that one of the most exciting parts of the journey is seeing parrots in their natural habitats.
The Parrot Lover's Cruise is all about making new friends while helping out parrots.
"Of course, it’s hard to see them because they blend in so well, but some people bring their expensive cameras and get great pictures up close with their zoom lenses,” said Carver. "Usually our tour guides can point them out for us, which helps us see them.”
This year, the group is going back to the bird rescue in Belize, and to an ecological park, Xcaret, to see a macaw breeding facility, as well as to release macaws into the surrounding forest.
"I promise this will be a journey of discovery and excitement for those who come on this spectacular cruise for all parrot enthusiasts,” Cipriano said. "You can leave your worries behind and escape with us to some of the bluest waters and best sightseeing in the world.”
Carver said that, if you’re a parrot lover, this cruise should be on your bucket list.
"It doesn’t get any better than spending quality time with bird people, talking, laughing, showing pictures, telling stories, asking questions, learning how to relate better to birds, and knowing that part of the money invested is going to helping birds in the wild,” Carver said. "The only thing better would be to bring our birds with us."
To find out more about the Parrot Lovers Cruise and perhaps book yourself a spot, check out the website here or contact Carol Cipriano at 570-470-0034. You can also find the cruise on Facebook here.