Cruise for a Cause — a $600,000 exercise

They're everywhere. Some of them can be spotted by their license plates. Or maybe because they're wearing a cap that is their identity. Or maybe, sadly, because they're wearing a prosthetic. Sometimes, more than one.

They are veterans.

Vets are thanked, supported and decorated all over the country. Even on cruise ships. And no cruise ships do more for veterans than the ones flying the Princess Cruises flag.

In November, the Caribbean Princess sailed a 5-day cruise from Houston that was dedicated to veterans. Princess called it Cruising for a Cause and on board were guest speakers, a former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman (Admiral Mike Mullen), US Navy-VietnamMoving Wallretired senior officers from all walks of military life and a war correspondent (Joe Galloway) whom Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf called "the finest combat correspondent of our generation" for carrying soldiers to safety in Vietnam.

How's this for support?

The cruise was a fundraiser for Operation Homefront and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. A portion of each passenger's fare was dedicated to the cause. Passengers were invited to show their support in fundraising activities. This week, Princess CEO Alan Buckelew — a Vietnam Vet — delivered a check for $300,000 to Operation Homefront. An identical check was already in the coffers of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

Total: $600,000.

It fell short of the cruise lines expectations of $1 million. Maybe the passengers weren't as generous as expected. Maybe Princess was over-zealous in its ambitions. But it's $600,000 that wounded warriors and veterans' causes like The Wall in Washington (above) and families in need didn't have last month.

Walk by a former soldier who's struggling to get out of a car or into a grocery store. or just get through the day, and Cruising for a Cause — and programs like it — are not just admirable.

They're vital.

Holland America Noordam
14 nights
March 21, 2014
Fort LauderdalePonta DelgadaCadizMalagaCartagenaBarcelona
Oceanview: $699
Cost per day: $49
www.hollandamerica.com

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