An interesting dilemma for cruise line Royal Caribbean: The company has decided to allow its ships to continue to visit its private beach in Labadee, Haiti, despite the obvious mayhem occurring just 60 miles south in Port-Au-Prince. This has caused a bit of an uproar among some folks (including many naval-gazing public relations types) that the cruise line is being wildly insensitive by pulling up a ship stocked with midnight buffets to one of the country’s ports while people are starving just miles away. Says one of these PR types, “The symbolism and optics of a big white ship sitting right off the beach and people playing were very damaging to the brand, and they have to be prepared for medium to longer-term damage.”
Royal Caribbean counters that it employs several hundred Haitians whose livelihoods depend on the ship stopping in Labadee. Avoiding the port, in this case, certainly wouldn’t help these people at all.
I appreciate what the navel-gazers are saying, but I think the best thing that cruise line can do for Haiti right now is to continue to visit. After 9/11 people were not telling tourists to avoid Philadelphia, were they? No they were not. Labadee has not, thankfully, been affected by the quake, and avoiding it because there was a disaster on the other side of the country actually doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.
After the typhoon in Southeast Asia, Thai resorts were begging people to come back. Haiti doesn’t have the infrastructure to beg people to come to Haiti; for the only company that actually WANTS to bring tourists to the country to avoid doing so because it would somehow look bad is just crazy. Eliminating the stop in Labadee would bring economic disaster to the Haitians who depend on the ship to make a living. Why is anyone suggesting that cutting them off from their livelihood is a good idea?