Row over Haiti cruise stop overs

Company says its ships are "helping Haiti" as critcism mounts over tourist visits.

    Royal Caribbean's decision to continue its stopovers in Haiti has been criticised as "insensitive" [AFP]

    Others have also suggested that the Labadee dock could be better used to ship in much-needed relief supplies, although Royal Caribbean says US military advisors have visited the site and declared it unsuitable.

    "It was hard enough to sit and eat a picnic lunch at Labadee before the quake, knowing how many Haitians were starving"

    Posting on

    The cruise line's ship Independence of the Seas was the first to return last Friday, just three days after a quake struck the capital Port-au-Prince, with three more ships scheduled to stop at Labadee this week.

    But Royal Caribbean says it is proud of what its ships are doing, and Adam Goldstein, the president and CEO, said the liner's visit to Labadee was contributing to Haiti's recovery in their own way.

    "Being on the island and generating economic activity for the straw market vendors, the hair-braiders and our 230 employees helps with relief while being somewhere else does not help," Goldstein wrote on the company's blog.

    "The north [of the country] is going to bear a good part of the burden of the agony of the south, and the more economic support there is to the north, the better able the north will be to bear this burden. People enjoying themselves is what we do."


    Royal Caribbean Cruises has also announced plans to provide at least $1 million in humanitarian relief to survivors of the Haiti quake.

    But the decision to go ahead with the visit has divided passengers.

    A survey by an online cruise reviews and news website, Cruise Critic found most passengers backed the company's decision to resume its port calls in Haiti.

    However, several passengers said they would stay on board ship when it docks in Labadee, with one saying 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," another passenger wrote on a 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.''

    SOURCE: Agencies


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