18 January 2010

Cruise ship visits Haiti

The Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines' ship Independence of the Seas went ahead with its scheduled stop at a fenced-in private Haitian beach surrounded by armed guards, leaving its passengers to "cut loose" on the beach, just a few kilometers from one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the region's history. The ship's owners justified it as a humanitarian call, because the ship also delivered 40 palettes of relief supplies while its passengers frolicked on zip-lines and ate barbeque within the 12-foot-high fence's perimeter...
This is a headline and blurb that will elicit immediate "knee-jerk" reaction, but before you reach a final conclusion, please read the rest of the story at BoingBoing and then browse through the comments to see some of the different points of view.  It's more complex than it seems...


  1. Really it would have been better to leave the one-sided BoingBoing excerpt out altogether, and linked directly to the full story here:

    It is obvious from the full story that this isn't a case of an "insensitive rich company", but rather a thoughtful, planned decision taken only after consulting with local UN officials in Haiti.

    "In our conversations with the UN special envoy of the government of Haiti, Leslie Voltaire, he notes that Haiti will benefit from the revenues that are generated from each call...

    "We also have tremendous opportunities to use our ships as transport vessels for relief supplies and personnel to Haiti. Simply put, we cannot abandon Haiti now that they need us most."

    In addition to cash donations, the cruise line is ferrying aid workers and over 100 pallets of food and relief supplies.

    I, for one, can't argue with that. Most of the commenters on Boingboing were doing so without reading the full article either.

  2. Thanks for posting this. I have seen a couple other posts that are not giving a "full accouting".

  3. I would take issue with this if two conditions were met:
    1) RCL neglected to consider the potential risks to their customers and to consult with the Haitians on the topic; AND
    2) The port was a real port that was intact and available to much larger relief vessels if only RCL wasn't in the way.

    Since neither of those conditions are true, from what I can tell, I just can't get worked up about this.

    I will say that I was never comfortable with the idea of Labadee, and took it into consideration when my wife and I shopped for cruises for our honeymoon. We're not the trinket-buying type. But if you are, your money is better spent in Haiti than at home on the same trinket. Local artisans tend to make more off of tourists in these types of markets than off of resellers.

  4. What is the appropriate distance one must be in order to enjoy themselves?
    Are people frolicking in Bali given a pass?
    How much time should pass?
    Do you tell family from Wisconsin who have been saving for years for a vacation booked six months ago are supposed to suck it up? Bob and Nancy from Detroit picked Jamaica they're alright with me.
    I'm glad that the Cruise lines donations can do some good, and I wouldn't judge those unfortunate enough to book travel at this time.


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