There's a cruise that combines vacation with volunteering and it's only $340 -- this woman said it changed her life

Amber Cove cruise arrivalCourtesy LatinAbroadMaria Laborde of LatinAbroad.

The INSIDER Summary:

• Travel blogger Maria Laborde went on a $AU340 Fathom cruise to the Dominican Republic.

• The trip combined travel with volunteering.

• She feels her work really made a difference in the community.

As a travel blogger and digital marketing translator fluent in Spanish and English, a Fathom cruise that combined vacation with volunteering was a perfect fit for Maria Laborde of LatinAbroad.

In between hiking waterfalls and riding water slides, she taught English to Dominican families.

She found that making an impact is what truly makes a trip unforgettable.

Laborde studied abroad in Cairo and travelled around the Middle East from 2008 to 2009, which 'woke up the travel bug.'

She's since been to over 30 countries, blogging as LatinAbroad.

She combined her love of travel and charity work on a Fathom social impact cruise in the Dominican Republic.

'I always wanted to get involved with charities and do more social impact activities, so I was always looking for ways where I could combine travel with those experiences,' she said.

Laborde went for free on a travel bloggers' press trip, but the entire eight-day cruise would have cost her just $A340.

'I paid for excursions and tipped my bartenders well,' she said. 'They got plenty of me!'

While initially sceptical about whether or not her work would make a difference, she found that connecting with local charities made her time there productive.

'Bloggers that like responsible travel are really wary of certain volunteering programs because they charge these big fees, and then you don't really know where the money is going,' she said. 'What's great about Fathom is that they actually connect with those local organisations... so they already know from inside what those needs are.'

She taught English workshops, which she described as 'life-changing.'

Originally from Puerto Rico, she was able to draw on her own experiences and help the girls speak English with confidence.

She incorporated English cheers with newspaper pom-poms to help her pupils have fun practicing their spelling.

The trip wasn't all work, though.

The Amber Cove cruise port provided plenty of opportunities to relax.

Still, she regards her volunteer work as the most memorable part of the trip, setting it apart from other cruises she's been on.

'I've been on many cruises, and I'm used to travelling a lot, so it was just a completely different vibe on this cruise,' she said.

'It was small enough to be able to connect with fellow volunteers and travellers, and really mingle with the staff and learn more about their mission and what Fathom is doing, but at the same time it was enough space. It felt very peaceful.'

'It was fabulous.'

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