Editor’s Note: Thanks to Hank Koppelman for his continued coverage of the debate on Royal Caribbean’s decision to continue pleasure cruises to Haiti.
As the Haiti crisis remains fluid, another organization, The Center for Responsible Travel, has leveled charges against Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines for what they term an “unsound” decision to continue to call on the resort area of Labadee. As mentioned in the previous blog on this subject, it is my opinion that this continued criticism is unfair, uninformed and unnecessary. It would seem that those individuals in the travel and tourism industry would agree. In a poll conducted by Travel Weekly magazine, when asked: “Did Royal Caribbean make the right decision to resume call in Labadee, Haiti?” the following are the results:
The Center for Responsible Travel suggests that RCCL should have dedicated their various ships to operate as hospital ships or as a shelter for homeless Haitian citizens. They also indicate that there’s a precedent for these actions (Carnival cruise ships used to house evacuees after Katrina), although they fail to mention that the precedent involved the U.S. government chartering the ships for $192 million, plus $44 million in reimbursement for lost revenues. RCCL is not charging anyone for their actions.
As stated previously, there seems to be a deliberate ignoring of the fact that the Haitian government specifically requested RCCL continue to serve Labadee, thereby providing jobs and much needed revenue for the economically stricken nation. In a statement, Leslie Voltaire, the special envoy of the government of Haiti to the United Nations, said, “Given the terrible economic and social challenges we now fact in Haiti, we welcome the continuation of the positive economic benefits that the cruise ship calls to Labadee contribute to our country.”
The debate will undoubtedly continue; however, there seems to be overwhelming evidence that Royal Caribbean’s contribution to the economy is not only welcomed by the government and people of Haiti, but it is essential to the eventual rebuilding of the nation.
Now that you know more of the “rest of the story”, what do you think?