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15 miles from Labadee !!!!


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Cruise ships still find a Haitian berth

 

Luxury liners are still docking at private beaches near Haiti's devastated earthquake zone for holidaymakers to enjoy the water

 

* Robert Booth

* guardian.co.uk, Sunday 17 January 2010 21.53 GMT

 

 

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines faced a difficult decision over whether to dock as per itinerary at Labadee Beach, Haiti after last week's tragic quake.

 

Sixty miles from Haiti's devastated earthquake zone, luxury liners dock at private beaches where passengers enjoy jet ski rides, parasailing and rum cocktails delivered to their hammocks.

 

The 4,370-berth Independence of the Seas, owned by Royal Caribbean International, disembarked at the heavily guarded resort of Labadee on the north coast on Friday; a second cruise ship, the 3,100-passenger Navigator of the Seas is due to dock.

 

The Florida cruise company leases a picturesque wooded peninsula and its five pristine beaches from the government for passengers to "cut loose" with watersports, barbecues, and shopping for trinkets at a craft market before returning on board before dusk. Safety is guaranteed by armed guards at the gate.

 

The decision to go ahead with the visit has divided passengers. The ships carry some food aid, and the cruise line has pledged to donate all proceeds from the visit to help stricken Haitians. But many passengers will stay aboard when they dock; one said he was "sickened".

 

"I just can't see myself sunning on the beach, playing in the water, eating a barbecue, and enjoying a cocktail while [in Port-au-Prince] there are tens of thousands of dead people being piled up on the streets, with the survivors stunned and looking for food and water," one passenger wrote on the Cruise Critic internet forum.

 

"It was hard enough to sit and eat a picnic lunch at Labadee before the quake, knowing how many Haitians were starving," said another. "I can't imagine having to choke down a burger there now.''

 

Some booked on ships scheduled to stop at Labadee are afraid that desperate people might breach the resort's 12ft high fences to get food and drink, but others seemed determined to enjoy their holiday."I'll be there on Tuesday and I plan on enjoying my zip line excursion as well as the time on the beach," said one.

 

The company said the question of whether to "deliver a vacation experience so close to the epicentre of an earthquake" had been subject to considerable internal debate before it decided to include Haiti in its itineraries for the coming weeks.

 

"In the end, Labadee is critical to Haiti's recovery; hundreds of people rely on Labadee for their livelihood," said John Weis, vice-president. "In our conversations with the UN special envoy of the government of Haiti, Leslie Voltaire, he notes that Haiti will benefit from the revenues that are generated from each call …

 

"We also have tremendous opportunities to use our ships as transport vessels for relief supplies and personnel to Haiti. Simply put, we cannot abandon Haiti now that they need us most."

 

"Friday's call in Labadee went well," said Royal Caribbean. "Everything was open, as usual. The guests were very happy to hear that 100% of the proceeds from the call at Labadee would be donated to the relief effort."

 

Forty pallets of rice, beans, powdered milk, water, and canned foods were delivered on Friday, and a further 80 are due and 16 on two subsequent ships. When supplies arrive in Labadee, they are distributed by Food for the Poor, a longtime partner of Royal Caribbean in Haiti.

 

Royal Caribbean has also pledged $1m to the relief effort and will spend part of that helping 200 Haitian crew members.

 

The company recently spent $55m updating Labadee. It employs 230 Haitians and the firm estimates 300 more benefit from the market. The development has been regarded as a beacon of private investment in Haiti; Bill Clinton visited in October. Some Haitians have decried the leasing of the peninsula as effective privatisation of part of the republic's coastline.

 

------

 

I'm with those who wouldn't go ashore. Never mind RCI being an important source of income for Labadee, it is pure common deceny that should prevent passengers disembarking while they are still pulling bodies out of collapsed buildings - 800 schoolkids in one building alone.

 

I found it difficult enough on my LOS cruise 2 years ago, when I spent an hour speaking with a worker about the poverty in his country. It was a real eye opener. The thought of lazing on the beach, enjoying a BBQ and generally having fun while such tragedy is unfolding not too far away is abhorrent, and those who think nothing of it show a lack of compassion for their fellow men.

 

I understand that if you have paid for a cruise you will want to visit the ports, and Labadee is very beautiful, I also understand that RCI have spent a huge amount of money constructing this new pier, but that should not stand in the way of deceny and, for deceny's sake, the ships should stay away, at least until all those loved ones have been buried and put to rest and the people given food, water and shelter, and for the outside aid groups to formulate some sort of rebuilding of the capital city and surrounding towns.

 

Even if it was only for a month or two, it would show the people that Americans had got their priorities right. Any argument about boosting the economy through a few tips doesn't hold up when hundreds of thousands of people lie dead and dying in the streets just a couple of hours away.

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I'm not saying the ships shouldn't call in to deliver aid, just that passengers not go ashore. They could say, I was part of the relief effort for the victims of one of the worst earthquake disasters in modern times- that should be reward enough

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Sure wish I was on a cruise scheduled to stop in Labadee in the next 2 weeks!!!! With so many people from PoP headed north to Cap Haitian looking for food, shelter, and water it seems that the passengers have even a much better chance to contribute than before. First off, everyone gets off the ship and heads to the market and buys a trinket at an outrageous price. And add a few dollars to the price. Then tip someone on the beach for carrying their bag. It has been reported that food that is not eaten by the passengers is taken home by the Haitians working at Labadee. So passengers - don't eat while on Labadee. Have a big breakfast, head back to the ship for a slice of pizza for lunch, and enjoy your dinner on board. Leave the food that is prepared at Labadee for your enjoyment to be taken by the Haitians. Some of it will find it's way to the shelters. You can do without it. Also, leave a few unopen bottles of water with the Haitians. And if you are on a cruise that RCI is donating profits from that stop to charity, well buy an excursion. You don't have to go on it, just buy it. Or donate that money to one of the charities that are helping out.

Honestly, you can get off the ship, contribute, and have a subdued day.

I also would probably leave several pair of brand new pairs of flip flops on the beach. Not to mention a few new t-shirts and whatever. New and unused.

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We support the decision of cruise lines to continue business with Haiti (in Labadee or elsewhere) at this time.

 

Due to the fact that it will take months- even years to rebuild parts of Haiti- why remove a source of income now when it is most needed?

 

No one has to take a particular itinerary-no one has to get off the ship in Labadee or in any port they feel uncomfortable in.

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I'm not saying the ships shouldn't call in to deliver aid, just that passengers not go ashore. They could say, I was part of the relief effort for the victims of one of the worst earthquake disasters in modern times- that should be reward enough

 

And what happens to the workers who want to work there? They NEED our tourist dollars. It is that or join the line of people who get the "free" meals and water. The people NEED us to stay there and keep Labadee open.

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IMO

 

To me it's like going to a funneral and singing and dancing around the Casket.

 

It would be nice to make Labadee a Seaday for alittle bit and Royal can still send supplies, pay the port taxes and pay the 230 Haitian workers there.

 

I know it's going to take months and years for the people of Haiti but Royal should have skipped Labadee for a short time just to show some respect for human life lost.

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Sure wish I was on a cruise scheduled to stop in Labadee in the next 2 weeks!!!! With so many people from PoP headed north to Cap Haitian looking for food, shelter, and water it seems that the passengers have even a much better chance to contribute than before. First off, everyone gets off the ship and heads to the market and buys a trinket at an outrageous price. And add a few dollars to the price. Then tip someone on the beach for carrying their bag. It has been reported that food that is not eaten by the passengers is taken home by the Haitians working at Labadee. So passengers - don't eat while on Labadee. Have a big breakfast, head back to the ship for a slice of pizza for lunch, and enjoy your dinner on board. Leave the food that is prepared at Labadee for your enjoyment to be taken by the Haitians. Some of it will find it's way to the shelters. You can do without it. Also, leave a few unopen bottles of water with the Haitians. And if you are on a cruise that RCI is donating profits from that stop to charity, well buy an excursion. You don't have to go on it, just buy it. Or donate that money to one of the charities that are helping out.

Honestly, you can get off the ship, contribute, and have a subdued day.

I also would probably leave several pair of brand new pairs of flip flops on the beach. Not to mention a few new t-shirts and whatever. New and unused.

 

Maggie... great points.

 

IMO

 

To me it's like going to a funneral and singing and dancing around the Casket.

 

It would be nice to make Labadee a Seaday for alittle bit and Royal can still send supplies, pay the port taxes and pay the 230 Haitian workers there.

 

I know it's going to take months and years for the people of Haiti but Royal should have skipped Labadee for a short time just to show some respect for human life lost.

 

FYI... Haiti was subject to poverty and extremely poor standards for years and now, even with the millions and millions of dollars in aid from countries all over the world, it will take years for the country to recover.

 

Why should RCI take the brunt. RCI is doing its part- donating money, transporting supplies, paying port taxes. What more can one expect?

 

Did we cancel our travel plans when Katrina ravaged New Orleans and the gulf coast?

 

I just don't understand. Tragedies happen around the world... does it matter if the tragedy was 100 miles or 1000 miles away before feelings of guilt disappear?

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My point was that if Labadee were to become unstable then RCL would have to find another port. Weather / "waves" are a little different than anticipating a problem on an island that just had a Major Natural Disaster where THOUSANDS of people have just perished! They have a responsibility to anticipate and develop a game plan if issues were to arise on Hatti. Just to say “oh well it will have to be another day at sea”, is NOT an acceptable response to this situation! And I’m sure anyone else that is on my cruise would think the same way!

 

Let's not forget, if, and that's a big IF, Royal was able to send you to a different port for the day, there are already ships at that spot. Imagine another 3000 - 4000 people on an island that already is jam packed with 2-3 other ships. No thank you.

 

We'll get off at Labadee, enjoy the vacation we've been waiting for, spend some money to help the local economy and then move on.

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how about keeping it a port day, but instead of getting off the ship, RC unloads all of the donated money and supplies the pax thoughtfully brought along to help those people. The pax can stay on the ship and it would still be a "sea day", just in sight of land :)

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We will be on the Jan. 30 Navigator sailing and I hope they are still going to Labadee. We plan to get off, as we always do. We will tip very heavily to the guy that moves our chair for us, even if he doesn't move it, we will tip him. We will also buy some trinkets in the market. Maybe we won't even take the trinkets, just give the workers some money to use to buy whatever they can.

 

I think what RC is doing is great. There is always tragedy in the world. People take cruises every day, and do they stop to think of the fighting in the middle east and the tragedy going on there? There are many third world countries with starving people every day. If people feel guilty, they should stay home and send their cruise dollars to the relief efforts of some of these countries. At least we are helping (maybe in a very small way) with the relief effort for the people of Haiti.

 

So do the cruisers that are going now to Labadee and not getting off the ship feel guilty last time they were in Haiti? There were still thousands of Haitians starving before. Yes, it is a great tragedy what the earthquake has done there, but we are trying to help with the relief effort by supporting the stop in Labadee and doing our part while we are there.

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Tell you what..if they put me out at sea for an extra day they will be refunding a large amount of money. I would have a hard time believing they could not find another port to call on! They could tender in if they could not dock.

 

 

 

Read your cruise contract they can alter the itinerary with no notice, keep you floating around at sea for the whole cruise and they wouldn't owe you a dime.

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A lot of posters on this, and other threads, seem to take the stand that they should not be enjoying themselves when there is such devastation and loss of life 100 miles away, But, those same people would have no problem enjoying themselves if the Labadee stop was changed to a sea day, and the same devastation and loss of life was 120 miles away:confused:.

 

The same goes for Jamaica, 341 miles from Labadee, are people going to be laying on the Beach, climbing Dunns River falls and drinking to excess at margaritaville?, I'm sure they are.

 

What is the acceptable distance, that people can be away form the disaster area and relax and enjoy their vacation.

 

Ships calling at Labadee, help the Haitian workers employed there and their familes and extended families, the goods that RCI is bringing to Labadee are being distributed right away to the people that need them, the financial donation from the sales at Labadee is helping the people of Haiti.

 

The results of the earthquake and subsequent loss of life and even poorer living conditions for the Haitian people is horrendous, lets not make it even worse by denying them the help that RCI and it's passengers and suppliers are willing to give.

 

The government of Haiti wants the ships visit to continue, so let RCI give them what they want, as well and what they need.

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I live in south Florida, which is home to many Haitians. If you speak to them you will hear stories of corruption, both in government and the people. For many, many years some have defined survival as taking from others to provide for their families. I understand people's negative reaction to stopping at Labadee. Safety is a big concern, as the days continue to pass, the desperation grows. This was a concern before the earthquake. Then you have the overwhelming human tragedy. To have a good time in the face of devastation seems wrong. However, if your ship does stop in Labadee, you have an opportunity not to give money to some foreign entity that you pray will put the money where they say they will but give it to war lords who will hoard the money and supplies, but in actual people's hands. That to me would be worth stepping off the ship.

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Tell you what..if they put me out at sea for an extra day they will be refunding a large amount of money. I would have a hard time believing they could not find another port to call on! They could tender in if they could not dock.

 

Owe Me! Owe Me!. They wouldn't owe you anything

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This should not be about OUR guilt or what WE think is right or wrong. It should be about what's best for Haiti. If the UN Special Envoy of the government of Haiti wants RCI ships to stop at Labadee, who am I to tell him that he's wrong? Respect their decision on what's best for their country.

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It seems to me that there are two choices:

1) The ships continue to call. They bring aid and resources which can be transported to the disaster zone, revenue to the local Haitians who work at Labadee, revenue (via taxes, fees etc) to Haiti's government, and passengers who will make extra contributions (by both spending=revenue and donations).

2) The ships stop calling. The aid goes undelivered, the local Haitians are out of work, there's no tax revenue, and no passengers to spend or donate. The passengers will still have their holiday but on another beach.

"Out of sight, out of mind" won't help anyone.

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Owe Me! Owe Me!. They wouldn't owe you anything

 

Seriously. We're talking about people who have lost everything and this guy's concerned about if he'll have to suffer with an extra day at sea on a cruise ship? Wow. At least priorities are straight.

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My brother is a TA and spoke with Royal yesterday. They told him they were revising itineraries for the next couple weeks by changing labadee to a day at sea.

 

We can only hope this is true. It's exactly the right thing to do.

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I would go there no problem. When I went to Jamaica the resort had a wall around it and the other side was the biggest crap-hole I ever seen, but that didn't slow down business...What am I supposed to do?

 

Would you have enjoyed your resort stay if a hundred thousand people were dead nearby - and hundreds were dying everyday for lack of the basic necessities of food, water and medical care?

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Unless the security situation changes, we're going to get off at Labadee and enjoy ourselves immensely. If the ship doesn't stop at Labadee I hope it will change to Coco Cay. If it becomes a sea day, we will enjoy another day at sea.

 

There is little we can do to help the people of Haiti besides giving money. Unfortunately I think plenty of donations will be lost to corruption. On the news last night they said most Haitians live on $2 a day. I'm quite sure most passengers visiting Labadee will generously tip. This money is going to directly into the hands of workers and not some corrupt government officials.

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If I was a Haitian working at Labadee, with family back in Port-au-Prince, I'm fairly sure I would rather be working to serve the cruise ship pax (and as a result making money to help the family), than standing there looking at an empty quay.

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