Haiti Cruise Controversy

The Royal Caribbean Cruise Company came under fire last week as it resumed docking at Labadee beach in Haiti. The Celebrity Solstice anchors just off the shore of this private beach allowing its guests to enjoy the idyllic setting and enjoy a pina colada. However just 100km away lies Port-au-Prince, an area devastated by the earthquake that caused around 200,000 deaths.
Although many are deeming this move as selfish and unethical, Haiti locals are urging tourists to come back to area. Around 200 islanders work in the Labadee resort, offering tours and working in beachside bars and restaurants. Many of the local residents rely on the money brought in from cruise tourism especially as Royal Caribbean has leased the beach for its own personal use.
Many Haiti residents are urging Royal Caribbean to continue the port calls and ignore the controversy the issue. The cruise company itself donated $1 million to the relief cause and delivers fresh food and water on every port call. Net revenue from Labadee port calls will also be donated to the relief effort.
More than 15,000 people have visited Labadee since the earthquake struck. Royal Caribbean’s ‘Private Paradise’ offers a wide range of activities including a zip line, a roller coaster, snorkelling and kayaking. Haiti locals stand on the pier offering coastal cruises around the bay, many making up to $15 per passenger.
It is evident that after this tragedy, Haiti does need positive economic benefits. The cruise company has expressed that they understand the sensitivity of the situation however the regular port calls are bringing much needed revenue and supplies to this devastated country.

Author: Frank Lumley
Date: 02/02/2010

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