Cruise Ships Docking In Haiti. What’s Your Take?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I’ve spent a few childhood vacations sailing around the Caribbean islands in those gleaming-white, floating tourist kennels, visiting predetermined ports for minimal amounts of time. I rather enjoyed those trips, at that  time of my life, but now that I’ve outgrown hats with cartoon character ears attached to them, I prefer my traveling through different means; means that inject me more into the culture, and provide an authentic, local, and beneficial experience for all involved.

Caribbean cruise ships have always stood drastically detached from the impoverished countries they visit. Because of the recent decisions of a popular cruise line (to protect the integrity of the cruise line, I will refer to it as Coyal Raribbean) to dock at the Haitian port of Labadee, this microcosm of inequity has reared its vicious head yet again.

First mentioned in The Guardian, and causing ripples all over the internet, I can’t help but feel the same kind of frustration as expressed by quotes such as this, found on Sphere, “I just can’t see myself sunning on the beach, playing in the water, eating a barbecue and enjoying a cocktail while there are tens of thousands of dead people being piled up on the streets.”

The rebuttal: Coyal Raribbean’s vice-president states, “Labadee is critical to Haiti’s recovery; hundreds of people rely on Labadee for their livelihood. In our conversations with the UN special envoy of the government of Haiti, Haiti will benefit from the revenues that are generated from each call.”

How do you feel, and why? Could you eat a burger knowing about the starving people on the other side of Labadee’s 12 foot wall? Do you see cruise ships as an integral part of the recovery project (carrying food aid and donating proceeds)? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.

  • Darrell- I echo your sentiments here- I really do hope they are helping their ports, and it seems as though you've seen it a bit. Thanks for sharing your experience. I do think they help, but I also think they widen the gap. An interesting thought I had while reading your comment- is there a tipping point? how much help should the cruise ships/industry do to help that would make stopping there more justifiable? I think there is a point, but where that is, is up for debate.

  • Darrell Wilson

    Just was on the Jewel of the Seas Jan. 11- 22, 2010. Quake happened as we sailed between Cuba and Haiti. There were no scheduled stops in Haiti this voyage, but the cruise line did give passengers the chance to donate monies that were to be given to a Childrens welfare group to help the children of Haiti. Also, last night of the cruise, a bin was made available to deposit clothing that would be taken to Haiti on its next cruise, as Labadee was a port of call. The rational according to the captain and cruise line is that many Haitians are employed by the line and it has a long history of calling at this port. The vessel would also be used to transport releif supplies to that area of Haiti. This is neither to condone or condem the decision, just to give you a first hand account. On my cruise we stopped at Colon, Panama and Port Limon, Costa Rica and poverty was very evident here also. Do cruise ships calling at these ports help the local economy……I would like to think so.

  • Their response that they are going to help the local economy is so….what's the technical term, BS. Sorta like where very wealthy people argue that tax breaks for the rich will help the poor…there aren't any self serving fallacies in that argument are they.

    Or the United Fruit company that was the cause of Guatemala's 36 year civil war. Their argument after they manipulated thousands of farmers out of their land was that they were building infrastructure such as roads to benefit the country. They were building roads, but it was to help their production, any help the roads provided to anyone outside of their investors was just an accident.

    When I have a barbecue I sometimes help ant colonies, but I don't ask for any medals or act like I give a chicken finger about ants…

    • Luke! so eloquent as always! Ha!

  • Coyal Raribbean – ha. Yeah I think you hit the nail on the head Jon. This whole episode kind of encapsulates the entire argument against cruises. I think it goes without saying: wouldn't a better choice for all these cruisegoers to have been to demand a refund and instead donate their time/money to those that could really need it right now?

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