VACATIONING in Haiti

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    Jan 18, 2010 11:49 PM GMT
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/17/cruise-ships-haiti-earthquake

    QUOTE AUTHOR GOES HERE
    Sixty miles from Haiti's devastated earthquake zone, luxury liners dock at private beaches where passengers enjoy jetski rides, parasailing and rum cocktails delivered to their hammocks.

    The 4,370-berth Independence of the Seas, owned by Royal Caribbean International, disembarked at the heavily guarded resort of Labadee on the north coast on Friday; a second cruise ship, the 3,100-passenger Navigator of the Seas is due to dock.

    The Florida cruise company leases a picturesque wooded peninsula and its five pristine beaches from the government for passengers to "cut loose" with watersports, barbecues, and shopping for trinkets at a craft market before returning on board before dusk. Safety is guaranteed by armed guards at the gate.

    The decision to go ahead with the visit has divided passengers. The ships carry some food aid, and the cruise line has pledged to donate all proceeds from the visit to help stricken Haitians. But many passengers will stay aboard when they dock; one said 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," one passenger wrote on the 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.''

    Some booked on ships scheduled to stop at Labadee are afraid that desperate people might breach the resort's 12ft high fences to get food and drink, but others seemed determined to enjoy their holiday."I'll be there on Tuesday and I plan on enjoying my zip line excursion as well as the time on the beach," said one.

    The company said the question of whether to "deliver a vacation experience so close to the epicentre of an earthquake" had been subject to considerable internal debate before it decided to include Haiti in its itineraries for the coming weeks.

    "In the end, Labadee is critical to Haiti's recovery; hundreds of people rely on Labadee for their livelihood," said John Weis, vice-president. "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."

    "Friday's call in Labadee went well," said Royal Caribbean. "Everything was open, as usual. The guests were very happy to hear that 100% of the proceeds from the call at Labadee would be donated to the relief effort."

    Forty pallets of rice, beans, powdered milk, water, and canned foods were delivered on Friday, and a further 80 are due and 16 on two subsequent ships. When supplies arrive in Labadee, they are distributed by Food for the Poor, a longtime partner of Royal Caribbean in Haiti.

    Royal Caribbean has also pledged $1m to the relief effort and will spend part of that helping 200 Haitian crew members.

    The company recently spent $55m updating Labadee. It employs 230 Haitians and the firm estimates 300 more benefit from the market. The development has been regarded as a beacon of private investment in Haiti; Bill Clinton visited in October. Some Haitians have decried the leasing of the peninsula as effective privatisation of part of the republic's coastline.


    What the sweet dear Christ is wrong with people that they are going to vacation in Port au Prince?

    At some point don't you just cut it out?
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    Jan 19, 2010 1:43 AM GMT

    This is a tough one... I think RC should continue to go to Haiti because it does keep people working which is critical... but when there be respectful by doing a small scale bbq for passengers and donate the rest of the food to the relief effort










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    Jan 19, 2010 1:47 AM GMT
    mattyrec said
    This is a tough one... I think RC should continue to go to Haiti because it does keep people working which is critical... but when there be respectful by doing a small scale bbq for passengers and donate the rest of the food to the relief effort




    They should get their money back, it's disgusting otherwise.
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    Jan 19, 2010 1:49 AM GMT
    Even when we invaded the joint in1994, there were cruise ships stopping in there and disgorging passengers in Haiti. One of my favorite invasion scenes was a group of white folk, wandering around Cap Hatien (the big city in the north), looking totally confused. When we asked them what they thought they were doing, the said " . . . . we are visiting Hispaniola . . . ". When we told them the were in Haiti, you could see their faces turning green.

    The only really nice places in Haiti were the cruise line beaches and resort hotels. Those areas are sealed off from the rest of the population, just the way it is. Somebody in Haiti makes money off of it, so I guess that is a good thing.

    Good on the passengers for questioning whether or not they should stop and what they should do. But, I bet they just kept on cruising along . . .
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    Jan 19, 2010 1:50 AM GMT
    The site employs less than 600 Haitians? Hmmmm . . . .
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    Jan 19, 2010 1:56 AM GMT
    RCCL has been going there for years. They stopped during the military coupe several years back but have since returned. I can see both sides of the coin but they are intecjting cash into the Haitian economy. Where that money goes is hard to tell with their corrupt govt.

    RCCL is a customer of mine so I'm probably jaded somewhat but I understand their decision and support them fully.
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    Jan 19, 2010 3:05 AM GMT
    "Hispaniola" really? That's pretty bad.

    But the thing about this "money in the economy" is that it is a government official who validated the license and the lease to the land, and that government official, going by Haiti's past and current disposition, is utterly corrupt.

    What money goes into Haiti goes to these corrupt individuals goes to things bought in Europe. The money barely touches Haiti.
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    Jan 19, 2010 3:17 AM GMT
    Labadee is the paradise. It is the best place in the island and hidden place outside the city of Cap-Haitien. I live there 18yrs of my life but it is not like Port-Au-Prince.

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    Jan 19, 2010 3:26 AM GMT
    so 230 ppl have jobs and an additional 300 are reaping the benefits of the Americans coming to the island. seems like it would hurt haiti if the cruise lines left completely.


    The cruise lines obligation is first to there passengers, who pay all kinds of money to go on these cruises

    Yes it's horrible what happened in haiti, but the world shouldn't stop everything because of one disaster.
  • rnch

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    Jan 19, 2010 3:29 AM GMT
    yet another reason not to vacation outside of the United States of America.