See related (excerpted) story from the Miami Herald: “Haiti cruise stops: ‘Without this, we don’t eat’”
With the Celebrity Solstice cruise ship anchored just offshore this beautiful expanse of white sand Friday, vacationers stretched out on beach chairs in the sun, sipped cold beer and pina coladas with pineapple slices on the rim and listened to Haitian folk music.
The beach resort of Labadee is just 60 miles (100 kilometers) from Port-au-Prince, but it’s a world away from the devastation of the Haitian capital, where some 200,000 people are believed dead in an earthquake.
The cruise ships that stop here have become the center of a controversy: Should vacationers relax and have fun with so much suffering elsewhere on the island? Or would it be worse to halt the port calls and deprive locals of what they earn from tourism?
Miami-based Royal, which escaped damage to the plush private facility, was awaiting word from the Haitian government on when it can return to Haiti’s northern coast, far from the bulk of the earthquake damage.
“Site inspections of Labadee, Haiti, our private destination, report no apparent damage to our buildings, pier and attractions,” Royal Caribbean said in a statement. “Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises are eager to take guests, as well as humanitarian assistance, to Haiti as soon as possible, though we are awaiting confirmation from the Haitian government on when our return is feasible.”
Royal Caribbean boosts Haiti tourism push
Some vacationers Jet Ski, lounge on beach chairs and gorge at the buffet. Others hunt souvenirs in the nearby market or soar across the sky on a zip line linking lush mountains.
Right here, in Haiti.
Miami’s Royal Caribbean Cruises has extended the palm-lined beach, put in a roller coaster and constructed an 800-foot pier — a nearly $55 million investment that is fueling hope that this troubled nation can finally achieve the elusive goal of becoming a tourist getaway once more.
Read rest of story at the Miami Heraldhere.