Royal Caribbean announced that it is canceling another port stop, this time by the Navigator of the Seas, at it’s "private destination" in Labadee, Haiti. According to the RCL Blog, Royal Caribbean said today:
"Royal Caribbean has not received any guarantees or assurances that there will not be any protests in the future. If a protest takes place while a ship is port, there would be a significant impact on our guests’ ability to enjoy Labadee, or we may have to cancel the visit completely."
As we mentioned on the 19th, a small flotilla of boats carrying Haitians protested when the Freedom of the Seas tried to call on Labadee. Although most of the traditional media tried to down-play the incident or suggest that it was part of the protests about the national election in Haiti, many have suggested that the protests were focused on the exploitation of Haitian people brought about by Royal Caribbean and its trademarked resort of Labadie. (Royal Caribbean’s "Labadee®" is derived from the name of the 1600’s French plantation baron and slave owner Marquis de La’Badie.)
We recently published an article by a cruise passenger on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship yesterday – Local Protesters Greet Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship as well as an article which I wrote: Haitians Protest at Royal Caribbean’s "Private Destination" at Labadee.
After the Royal Caribbean ship was turned away, Prime Minister Evans Paul issued a press statement on Twitter, praising the cruise line and promising that regular tourist activities would continue in Labadee:
“The Haitian government strongly condemns with the utmost vigor the incident that occurred, this Tuesday, January 19, 2016, at the tourist port of Labadee with the inopportune arrival of a group of protesters to the dock of this port. This situation caused a regrettable tension for cruise passengers arriving at the site.
Therefore, the Government believes that some different can be resolved through dialogue and calls for calm everyone. The government has taken steps to remedy this situation caused by social order demands. Government officials will have to meet as soon as possible, residents of Labadee area and thus start a dialogue process.
On the other hand, we want to reassure and give our largest tourism partner of the cruise ship company Royal Caribbean all the guarantee that the arrangements will be made by the government to secure the area and allow the tourism activity to continue on the site of Labadee as usual.
The Government of the Republic of Haiti reaffirms the implementation of its overall policy to ensure that Haiti can become one of the main tourist destinations in the Caribbean that can accommodate visitors from around the world."
Royal Caribbean also said: "We will continue to closely monitor the situation and are in close communication with local and government officials in Haiti. At this time, we have not made any decisions regarding any additional upcoming port calls to Labadee. The next schedule call is Vision of the Seas, on Sunday, January 24."
The photo above, credit Freedom of the Seas cruise passenger Tom Fox, was taken on January 19th.
January 22, 2016 Update: A Haitian on-line site claims that "representatives of the Haitian Government met Thursday the residents of the community of Labadee to start the dialogue process. Meanwhile, the Minister Villedrouin will meet today Royal Caribbean with a view to guarantee a early resumption of tourism activities in Labadee."
Embarquement pour Labadee, "prison pour touristes" Boarding for Labadee, "prison for tourists" – (use Google Chrome to automatically translate). "Six years after the earthquake that struck Haiti January 12, 2010, Caterina Clerici and Kim Wall, two independent journalists, respectively photographer and writer, visited the country the time to four geographic and thematic chapters, to understand how tourism can definitely transform the country – for better or for worse."