Celebrations International Travel Blog

Weighing in on Royal Caribbean’s Decision to Return to Labadee

Posted on: January 22, 2010

I have resisted the urge to voice my opinion on this matter for days.  Part of me thought “Let the big-wigs in the industry fight this one out,” and another part of me thought “It doesn’t matter what I as one agent think, it’s what the cruise line thinks.”  But I’ve seen this topic come up in countless consumer and travel industry news bulletins, and a client asked me about Labadee last week, so here’s my take on it:

I can definitely understand the viewpoint that asks “How can people be enjoying themselves on vacation when there’s death and devastation 100 miles away on the same island?”  Nobody is implying that cruise passengers and crew who visit Labadee don’t have the people of Haiti and their current struggles in their hearts and minds.

While it is quite unusual and ironic to think that people could enjoy a port call to a nation in such a situation, just imagine what would happen if Royal Caribbean and Celebrity had decided to skip all port calls in Labadee for the foreseeable future.  No one knows how long the clean-up and rebuilding efforts in Port au Prince and its environs might take, and in that time, would it be right to cut off the livelihoods of so many others outside of Port au Prince?  Sure, the cruise lines could choose to divert their ships to other ports, and their employees would continue on as usual, once all the details were ironed out.  But what about the people in Haiti who depend upon cruise tourism to make their living?  And wouldn’t the lack of visitors to Haiti increase the likelihood that citizens of other countries would start to not only disregard Haiti as a cruise destination, but forget about it altogether?

Travel industry professionals like myself believe strongly in supporting the locales from which we make our living.  The thought in this regard is much the same as protecting and preserving the environment in which cruise ships sail, resorts operate, and so on.  With that being said, I agree with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity’s decision to return to the port of Labadee.  They are doing so in support of the economy in Haiti, and their ships bring in much-needed supplies each time they are in port.  Especially with the cruise lines’ buildings and attractions in Labadee undamaged by the earthquake, what better way to make use of the port and incoming ships?

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This is blog based on the experiences and interests of travel agency owners Adrienne and Agni Mitra. Through our blog entries, we will share our travel experience and expertise. We will also have other entries of interest to inspire your travels.

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