Tag-Archive for » Haiti «

Royal Caribbean And Haiti…A Problem?


This is a blog about Royal Caribbean, Haiti and reading between the lines. A lot of people are doing that these days following what appeared to be a fairly innocent incident this month: ships skipping Labadee because of a group of protesters on the water offshore.

Little more than that was said…at first. What has been said since may turn into a much bigger snowball by the time it gets to the bottom of the hill, as the analogy goes.

According to people on ships that turned around, Royal Caribbean officials said the protests Haiti-1had to do with upcoming (and postponed) elections in Haiti. After passengers dug deeper, they found the protesters were holding up signs because Royal Caribbean was not living up to its promise to build schools, hospitals and self-esteem in one of the world’s most impoverished countries.

As a result, more people than ever are re-examining the cruise line’s “private resort” known as Labadee. As a result, critics like maritime lawyer Jim Walker are ripping Royal Caribbean in commentaries — logically presented — for making excessive profits at the expense of Haitian people who thought they were going to benefit from the development of Labadee.

As a result, now people are questioning why Royal Caribbean ships have returned to Labadee, as they did this week. More and more the answer appears to be money. Period. Going to another port deprives the cruise line of an enormous revenue stream. The “private resort” is waterfront property the cruise line bought for a song and it’s Labadee-ziplinesurrounded by barbed-wire fencing to protect passengers who spend millions zip-lining and lounging in cabanas or renting equipment to use on the water, and to keep out poor Haitians who want to sell their crafts and try to escape their poverty.

“Royal Caribbean pays no actual rent of any kind…but its passengers pay a $10 to $12 head tax,” writes Walker, who is a well-known thorn in the side of cruise lines but who has probably touched a raw nerve this time.

If the head tax goes to the government as “rent” then fees for the “world’s longest zipline” and most of passengers spend in Labadee is likely pure profit for Royal Caribbean. A conservative estimate is that’s about 10,000 visitors every week.

We’ve only been to Labadee once. One of us was sick. We never ventured far enough from Allure of the Seas even to see the fence around Labadee. We never met any of the locals, as we usually do. All we really know about it is what we’ve learned from Royal Caribbean, including how it’s dedicated to helping poor Haiti.

That’s called PR…for public relations. The return of its ships to Labadee solved one problem, but now Royal Caribbean appears to have another.

A PR problem, and clearly it’s growing.

In the news…

• A $450 million multi-year product innovation and ship renovation for Princess
• Two new ships to push Royal Caribbean capacity to four million passengers a year
• Five Norwegian ships — the most ever — going to Europe for summer 2017

Today at portsandbows.comThe new Princess restaurant SHARE

Emerald Princess
14 nights
April 2, 2016
Fort Lauderdale, Ponta Delgada, Lisbon, Bilbao, Paris, Southampton
Inside: $799
Cost per day: $57

Royal Caribbean Keeps Helping Haiti


Now here's a novel way to help the stricken people of Haiti, still devastated by that 7.0 earthquake more than two years ago.

Send a party to explore Haiti's rich history on its northern shore, where the cruise ships land, to see if shore excursions can contribute to rebuilding the country's equally devastated tourism industry.

Thank you, Royal Caribbean.

This move was conducted last week by 15 crew members from Freedom of the Seas, and Royal Caribbean would benefit, too, of course. By gaining access to a pair of buildings considered "classified historical heritage" — Citadelle and the Sans Souci Palace — the cruise line would have something unique to offer its passengers.

At the going rate of a shore excursion, naturally.

However, Royal Caribbean has long created jobs for Haitians, and this would be an extension of that. At last count, there were more than 200 Haitian people employed by the cruise line, which has an agreement to lease land at Labadee and treat its customers to private beaches. Another 300 locals apparently benefit from the tourism the ships bring.

The scouting mission was to determine the quality of the tourist attractions, and the ease with which locals could transport Royal Caribbean passengers there from the beach. Ms. Dieudonne Luma Etienne, Director of the Ministry of Tourism in the North accompanied the crew members in these exploratory visits and told the Haiti Libre newspaper: "This is a victory to be able to get tourists from Royal Caribbean to the citadelle…they gave us some tips to improve the reception and to better control the services of travel on horseback, as well for the sale of our crafts products."


Now that could make it challenging to "giddyap" back to the ship on time, wouldn't it?

Caribbean Princess
12 nights
May 26, 2012
Southampton (return): Channel Islands, Cork, Dublin, Liverpool, Belfast, Glasgow, Invergordon, Edinburgh, Paris
Inside: $999
Cost per day: $83


Those Who Help the Haitian Cause

Once a sports writer, I still have a special appreciation for chroniclers of the games with a special gift for stringing words together. Like Mitch Albom (left), arguably America’s best sports columnist of his time. I love his writing but, far more than that, I love his humanity.

Haiti. All of us cringed when the earthquake ravaged Port Au Prince in January. Here we are again, this week, cringing at the thought of cholera attacking these poor, poor people who have so little.

Mitch Albom, a sports writer, did something about the first tragedy and it would surprise no one if the second becomes an extension of his mission. He did something with more than words. He rounded up a group of people in Detroit to go to Haiti; three of them the first trip, then nine, then 19. They came from many backgrounds and occupations but in Haiti they were all the same…volunteers who built buildings and dug toilets and slept on filthy floors to try to make a difference.

It is a world apart from the cruising we write about, but the cruising world — like Mitch Albom but in a different way — also cares. In particular, that caring revolves around Royal Caribbean. The school that the cruise line built, with earthquake-resistant construction materials transported to the island from Miami on cruise ships, is now open. L’Ecole Nouvelle Royal Caribbean covers 6,500 square feet near nine Haitian villages and towns. It has six buildings, 12 class rooms, a computer lab, offices and bathrooms.

Best of all, it has education for young Haitians.

The cynic will say that Royal Caribbean, which also donated $1 million to Haitian relief this year, cares because it has a vested interest in Haiti. Its cruise ships — along with those from Celebrity and Azamara — regularly stop at Labadee, one of those nine villages and towns, because Royal Caribbean has a private resort at the port.

Does it matter? Is it more important to help poor people get educated, or do nothing? What’s better, to show a poverty-stricken population that somebody really does care — and there are many others also making hands-on contributions, most visibly actor Sean Penn — or to make a financial contribution to an organization that may or may not apply it where it’s needed.

Maybe the cruise line will inspire others to help. Maybe it will inspire Haitians to help. Mitch Albom did both of those things in Haiti, and he’s just a sports writer.

A Royal Response to Haiti

A small part of Haiti has been of great importance to Royal Caribbean Cruises and its affiliated cruise line, Celebrity Cruises, for years. RCC’s own cruise port, Labadee, is located on the impoverished island nation that was ravaged by the earthquake in January.
The Royal Response?
An injection of $1 million to a variety of charitable organizations the company has been supporting over the years, including Food For The Poor, Pan American Development Foundation, and the Solano Foundation.
Most importantly, Royal Caribbean cruise ships will continue to bring in supplies.
“The effect of the earthquake has left Haiti in need of not only immediate support, but assistance in their long-term recovery,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
“Royal Caribbean wants to do its part to help out not only the general response, but also our hundreds of Haitian employees and their families through this disaster.”
Supplies started arriving the next weekend on the Independence of the Seas. It was followed by other “supply” ships such as Navigator, Liberty, Celebrity Solstice.
Guests on board all Royal Caribbean ships also made donations to support the Haitian cause.
That’s it, we’re done.

  • Categories

  • Archives