Posted by: Jerry Garrett | January 20, 2010

Royal Caribbean Supporters Speak Up on Haiti Cruise Ship Stops

Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas arrived in Ladabee with supplies, cash for earthquake relief

Critics pummeled Royal Caribbean after the cruise ship line decided to quickly resume its stops in Labadee, Haiti, just days after the devastating earthquake. But supporters seemed to far outnumber the critics. And in their support, they have become increasingly outspoken.

A sample of what they are saying:

“I’m firmly on Royal Caribbean’s side with Labadee,” said a cruise ship industry analyst in Denver.  “While I might be uncomfortable playing on the beach personally, if I were to find myself on a ship heading there, I’d be glad RCCL is using their resources to bring in much-needed supplies via an alternative point of entry, continuing to support the economy and those employed by the company, not to mention the cash donations from the sales made during their stop at Labadee.”

Royal Caribbean reported that over $30,000 was collected from such sales on Monday alone his week, from passengers on the Navigator of Seas which docked in Ladebee a day earlier. That was roughly twice the estimated $15,000 in port charges Royal Caribbean paid the Haitian government for Navigator’s visit. The ship also brought a reported 40 pallets of foodstuffs that were donated to the relief efforts. And even larger ship, Independence of the Seas, arrived the next day.

“Ships are often a much-needed economic link in the face of natural disasters, a la Cozumel a few years ago as you may recall,” continued the travel analyst. Indeed, I was on Celebrity’s Zenith in December 2005, when it was one of the first ships to reach Cozumel after the devastation of Hurricane Wilma. The ship brought much-needed relief supplies (particularly fresh water) and passengers brought dollars that helped sustain the locals and their battered economy.

“While going to an area which has been hit is controversial,” said the analyst, “it’s necessary to the locals.”

Travel agents I contacted also seemed to generally support Royal Caribbean, especially since it was donating just about every dollar it was collecting in Ladabee.

“They didn’t have to do that,” said an agent in south Florida, where the Royal Caribbean ships call home. “That was above and beyond.”

Agents also said that although some of their clients contacted the agents about their opinion of going to Haiti, people were “generally not trying to get out of scheduled trips”. Officially, Royal Caribbean maintains its “no refunds” policy for people who want to cancel or alter itineraries close to previously arranged travel dates. Unofficially, one agent said she expected Royal Caribbean “might work something out” for anyone who “truly objected” to going.

But another agent in Los Angeles said, “A couple hundred locals make what they consider a decent living from their work at Labadee.”

Royal Caribbean said some 270 local traders make their livelihood’s from Labadee transactions. The cruise employs another 230 people at the private resort, which is about 80 miles north of the quake’s epicenter. Labadee facilities were undamaged, and other than diverting its massive Oasis of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, from the port for the foreseeable future, the resort is able to be open for business.

“The amount the vendors at Labadee make may not seem like much by Western standards, but it is a good income for them,” continued the California agent. “They are able to feed and clothe themselves and their families. If Royal Caribbean pulled out, even for a few months, what would happen to these people? How would they then make a living? And when and if Royal Caribbean was to come back, say in three, six months, would those people even still be around? Or would more innocent people just be added to the list of victims?”

Jerry Garrett

January 20, 2010

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Responses

  1. Good points!


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