A year ago Royal Caribbean International came under close scrutiny as the line planned to visit their private destination of Labadee, Haiti shortly after a devastating earthquake rocked the island. I was on board Freedom of the Seas last January when critics said it was in bad taste for the line to have cruise passengers go ashore for fun and sun while so many were suffering on different parts of the island nation. A year later, not a lot is better in Haiti and Royal Caribbean continues to call.
“Please go back to the ship and tell everyone to come ashore, we need them” I was told by local resident and Royal Caribbean island crew member “Franclin” at the time.
His plea was in response to a lower than normal number of passengers getting off ships calling at the island, a move that was hurting them financially as natives tried to sell hand-crafted items.
At the time, Royal Caribbean was scorned by some for visiting the island even though they were delivering much-needed relief supplies including much-needed basics like water at a time when ports elsewhere were damaged and unusable.
The effort continues today, a year later, as the cruise line continues to call at Labadee.
Humanitarian Relief to Haiti is an ongoing effort at Royal Caribbean. Highlighted by opening one fo the first schools to be built after the earthquake in October 2010 and company blogs that helped keep the world informed, relief efforts started just three days after the earthquake. The efforts continue too as company lets those with Royal Caribbean Visa cards help by donating their points to help in aide programs. Guests aboard sister-lines Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises can donate to Food for the Poor’s Haiti Relief Fund via their onboard charge accounts while sailing.
“Well, it can only get better there in 2011, right? Right??”
Royal Caribbean has made much more than a “show” of support as they continue efforts long after the TV cameras and journalists have moved on.
Photos: Whitney Owen