Royal Caribbean’s crisis management team remains in over-drive as the international press continues to focus on the incongruity of tens of thousands of affluent U.S. citizens sailing to Royal Caribbean’s "private destination" in Labadee, as Haiti remains in turmoil.
Over the weekend even the Arab news station Al Jazerra sent a film crew to Labadee to document the story (video below). Al Jazerra reported that Royal Caribbean forbid the reporters from interviewing any passengers at what is often erroneously referred to as the cruise line’s "private island." The video shows a Royal Caribbean security boat trying to waive the reporters away from the resort.
Other news sources report that the cruise line tried to restrict reporters from interviewing the passengers at the beach resort. In an article entitled "People Still Vacationing in Haiti Despite Devastation Miles Away," Fox News indicates that "Royal Caribbean allowed a team of journalists from the Associated Press to visit Labadee on Friday, but the cruise company’s spokeswoman . . . would not allow them to interview or photograph cruise passengers."
It looks like Royal Caribbean’s attempt to control the media did not work. There are hundreds of stories, photographs and videos popping up on the internet regarding Labadee.
On one side of the debate are those outraged that vacationers are drinking beer and jet-skiing with over Haitians 100,000 dead and devastated survivors are desperate for food and medicine. An editorial in the U.K.’s Mirror characterized the spectacle of Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas docking at the "heavily guarded Labadee resort to allow its residents to jet-ski, parasail or have rum punches brought to their hammocks," as "rampant self-interest and insensitivity."
The other side of the debate, most often voiced by travel agents and the cruise industry itself, is that the cruise ships are bringing some supplies as well much needed income to the Haitians who work at Labadee. This sentiment is reflected in the ABC News article "Haiti Cruise Stops: Without This, We Don’t Eat." The article mentions that about 200 Haitians work at Ladabee and are wholly dependent on the cruise passengers.
But even the ABC article states that Royal Caribbean would not allow reporters to interview or photograph cruise passengers.
Notwithstanding the cruise line’s attempt at censorship, the images and video from Labadee continue to appear – showing what ABC News describes as the uneasy image of "vacationers stretched out on beach chairs in the sun, sipp[ing] cold beer and pina coladas with pineapple slices on the rim . . . "
Photographs Lynne Sladky/AP (via Huffington Post "Reading the Pictures: Haiti Cruises – The Fun is Just Beginning")
Video Al Jazerra