Tag Archives: labadee

Luxury holiday cruise ships still dock in northern Haiti? Wow.

I wanted to share this tale of what, at first sight, looks like remarkable bad taste on the part of Royal Caribbean, reported in the UK’s Guardian newspaper – but which, on further reflection, may be the right thing to do.

Sixty miles from Haiti’s devastated earthquake zone, luxury liners dock at private beaches where passengers enjoy jet ski 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..

I touched on the curious issue of Labadie – renamed Labadee TM – in this (pre-quake) post about the Haiti few Haitians will ever see.

It’s a difficult one. Even at the best of times, the thought that western tourists are living it up in a walled-off Xanadu while Haitians struggle in abject poverty is uncomfortable – although not unusual in the developing world.

Labadee, in better times

On the other hand, tourism is likely to play a crucial role in Haiti’s long-term future, as a source of investment and income, and right now the island can use every dollar it can get. Only a few weeks ago, the world’s largest cruise ship – Oasis of the Seas – started its maiden voyage there; seen as an important display of confidence in Haiti’s tourism potential, and pointing to a possibly brighter future. Perhaps one should stomach the sickening contrast; it is better the ships dock than abandon one of Haiti’s few viable industries.

Still. Ugh. Right now? The whole affair feels deeply distasteful.

Further reports from Fox News, The Guardian’s comment page, New York Daily News.

PS. I found these youtube videos about Labadee, uploaded by kidkut1 on Jan 14:

The ‘Haiti’ few Haitians will ever see

I was struck by this description of Royal Caribbean’s private Haitian port – or should that be “private port on the north coast of Hispaniola”.

Labadee® is Labadie, incidentally, near Cap Haitien. But it seems a tour company can rename somewhere and then trademark it without too much trouble these days.

On the north coast of Hispaniola, surrounded by beautiful mountain slopes and exotic foliage, sits Labadee®, Royal Caribbean’s private paradise. This exclusive destination offers pristine beaches, breathtaking scenery and spectacular water activities. We even have an amazing new Aqua Park for kids. Regardless of where you go, you’ll find yourself embraced by the beautiful landscape. Labadee’s native charm, along with its natural beauty, make this a destination not to be missed, and only Royal Caribbean can take you there.

The One Thing You Don’t Want to Miss

It’s impossible to choose just one thing that’s special about Labadee®. The sandy beach and coral reefs provide a perfect place to relax and have fun. Whether you’re interested in kayaking, snorkeling, parasailing or you just want to lie on the beach and relax, you won’t want to miss Labadee®.

Other Fun Things to Do

Paddle along the gorgeous coastline of Labadee® on a relaxing kayaking tour. Your guide will lead you through beautiful coral reefs, where you’ll witness an abundance of exotic marine life. You’ll also pass various fishing villages that have been unchanged for decades.
Ahoy, mateys! Become a pirate for a day at Labadee® Luc’s Splash Bash. Get drenched by ground geysers and water archways, battle other buccaneers with water cannons aboard the pirate ship, or explore the treasure map trail.
Soak up the sun while you float on the waves on a beach mat.
Enjoy the fun-filled floating Aqua Park as you bounce on trampolines and climb and slide on inflatables.

Sporting Adventures

Grab a bird’s-eye view as you soar 400 feet above the beautiful peninsula of Labadee on a thrilling parasailing ride.
Paddle through the enchanting Bay of Labadee® on a kayaking tour. Absorb the breathtaking surroundings and learn a bit about the Haitian culture.
Take an exhilarating ride aboard a waverunner down the scenic coast of Labadee®. See your ship from a perspective rarely enjoyed by other guests.
Go shopping for beautiful handmade local artwork, woodwork and crafts. You’ll want to bring cash so you can take home a beautiful memento of this private paradise.

Get a Taste of Local Flavor

LabadeeOur special “Labaduzee” is waiting for you – our signature frozen drink that is out of this world. Order yours from a shady hammock to capture the true spirit of Labadee®.

I plan to ask a few Haitians what they think of the Labaduzee, that “true spirit”, “taste of local flavor”.

Bah… I should not be so cynical. I am sure this walled off private tourist mecca provides some employment and can help build confidence here. A catalyst. And who can blame tourists from wanting a bit of hassle-free pampering.

Given that, why does it feel so weird?

I leave you with a note written by “lefonceur26” below the youtube speed boat video, written 9 months ago. “Lol it’s hard to know how others are enjoying my country while I can’t…I’m so pissed right now”.

FYI this piece from Conde Nast Traveler, on concierge.com, is worth a look.