A cruise passenger has reportedly died after falling from the Harmony of the Seas, according to a passenger who contacted us.

This evening we received an email which stated that between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. today, there was a suicide/accident on Harmony of the Seas; someone fell/jumped from his balcony and died.

Later this evening, a guest on the cruise ship tweeted the following:

The passenger is apparently a 16 year old teenager (although there is also accounts that the passenger was in his 50’s who fell from an upper deck ), according to a guest on the ship. One passenger stated on Twitter that the guest died after hitting the “pavement.”  Another passenger posted on Twitter that the person struck the “concrete dock.”

The Harmony of the Seas is currently on a week-long cruise to the Caribbean. The cruise ship left Fort Lauderdale on January 6th and has sailed to Philipsburg, St. Maarten and San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was scheduled to stop in Labadee, today from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. this evening. It is scheduled to return to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, January 13th.

A crew member, Arron Hough, went overboard from the Harmony of the Seas two and one-half weeks ago.

Have a comment? Please leave a post below or join the discussion on our Facebook page

January 15, 2019 Update: Boy, 16, falls to his death while trying to climb into room from balcony of Royal Caribbean ship via the Sun Sentinel.

 

Today is the third occasion when Royal Caribbean has canceled a port call in its private destination of Labadee, Haiti. The Vision of the Seas was supposed to call on Royal Caribbean’s fenced-off private port today but instead the cruise line has chosen to avoid Labadee and take passengers on the Vision of the Seas to San Juan a little earlier, according to the unofficial RCL Blog.  

The last two times a Royal Caribbean cruise ship was suppose to call on Labadee ( Freedom of the Seas on January 19th and the Navigator of the Seas on January 21st), the cruise line initially encountered a small group of boats with protesters aboard and then on the second occasion refused to disembark its passengers there because it had not yet received assurances from the Haitian government that the drama would not be repeated. It replaced the port on these two cruises with a sea day. Royal Caribbean has reportedly returned the passengers’ port taxes for Ladabee, as it is permitted to do in its one-sided passenger ticket. There are rumors and a couple of postings on social media sites that Royal Caribbean has replaced Labadee with Belize, but the company has decided not Labadee Haitito post anything official. The cruise line has done a poor job notifying guests who are booked on cruises which include Labadee in the next few weeks exactly what is happening. 

Today was suppose to be the day of the much anticipated national elections in Haiti. Royal Caribbean has implied that the protests in Labadee were about the national elections, but there appears to be far more to the story that the cruise line is admitting publicly.  

The cruise line took over sovereign Haitian land when it made its deal with Baby Doc Duvalier in 1986. It separated the village of Labadie with a 12 foot chain-linked fence, covered with barbwire, from its private resort which it trademarked Labadee®.  

Labadee® is a major money maker for the cruise line. Royal Caribbean pays no actual rent of any kind for the 260 acres of waterfront property, but its passengers pay a $10 to $12 head tax. Few people will argue that this money reaches the local villagers in Haiti, which some local people contend is the real source of the local protests last week. Passengers pay hundreds of dollars to Royal Caribbean to ride on the "Dragon’s Breath Flight Line" (a zip line which towers over the beach), or to rent jet-skis, or to lounge in a private cabana.  A "Labadoozie" frozen rum drink costs a whopping $14 plus 18%. Needless to say, Haitians on the other side of the barbwire do not receive any of this money and are mired in abject poverty. The local artisans, who are permitted thought the barbwired scurity fence, receive only a pittance selling their local artwork. In contrast, cruise ships from Royal Caribbean and its sister company Celebrity bring many millions of dollars of money generated in Labadee back to their headquarters in Miami on each cruise.  

Many cruise passengers don’t know, or seem not to care, about the troubled history of Haiti or Royal Caribbean’s sharp deal with the former corrupt leaders of Haiti, which resulted in the Miami-based cruise line obtaining 260 acres of water front land for 50 years. Many people don’t seem to understand that the resort of Labadee is part of Haiti. Some still believe that it is an island unto itself or is part of Hispaniola, a marketing image encouraged by the cruise line knowing that selling a vacation spot in an impoverished and sometimes violent country like Haiti was a long shot. Even a travel article published recently in the News-Gazette newspaper in Champaign, Illinois about cruising to Labadee mistakingly calls it a "private island" located just "off the shore of Haiti."  

Indeed, Royal Caribbean’s official video of Labadee misleadingly refers to it as "Royal Caribbean’s Private Island Paradise."

Large multi-national companies obtaining sweet deals for valuable land of impoverished Caribbean or Central America nations for private destinations seems like business as usual in the winner-take-all world of the cruise industry. Multi-billion dollar, Fortune 200 companies gobbling up ports in one-sided deals with beholden and often corrupt leaders of tiny countries in the Caribbean and Central America seems to be viewed as just good business.  

Cruise lines are making sharp deals throughout the Caribbean. The government of Belize just passed a bill which "legislates tax and duty exemptions for Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), a billion dollar multi-national company that has been given a 25-year exclusive contract to control cruise operations in southern Belize," according to a local newspaper in Belize. The Supreme Court of Belize earlier found that NCL "fast-tracked" its dredge-and-fill Harvest Caye project with the government hastily approving the NCL’s new port and resort project over environmental concerns. 

The indefinite postponement of the elections, apparently due to violence and fear of corruprion, will result in Royal Caribbean postponing its decision when it will return its ship to Labadee.  Have no doubt about one thing – Royal Caribbean will return to Labadee. It has directed far too much of its profits on building a pier, zip-lining and roller-coaster rides and cabanas to walk away from such an immensely profitable waterfront boondoggle that it has tied up for the next 24 years.

It seems questionable to me whether any significant percentage of Royal Caribbean passengers care about whether the cruise line is exploiting the local villagers. It’s just another private destination, they say, like Coco Cay (another Royal Caribbean private resort), or Half Moon Cay (operated by HAL), or Castaway Cay (operated by Disney).  

But it seems, unnfortunately, that Royal Caribean feels compelled to first make a point with the protesters. It will continue to freeze out the local people, just like Carnival Corporation did when 150 Indian P&O waiters congregated on the pier in Seattle and politely protested their low wages and the withholding of tips. When it was over, despite promises that there would be no retribution, the Carnival CEO’s terminated all of the waiters and black-balled them from ever working in the cruise industry

One Royal Caribbean crew menber left a comment on my Facebook page: "guests did not pay to change the world during their visits but to relax and have fun." Is this true? Once Royal Caribbean shows the protesters who is boss of Labadee®, will passengers again be unloaded into the cruise line’s private resort to zip-line, parasail and drink $14 Labadoozies in their private cabanas, or will they wake up to the injustice of Labadee®? 

Photo Credit: Tancy Talks Cruising Part 2: Fake Haiti

January 26, 2016 Update:  Time magazine weighs in

January 28, 2016 Update: A travel agent takes a look at Labadee.

By Tom Fox, currently aboard the Freedom of the Seas

Dozens of chanting protesters, banging pots and cymbals, and packed onto a half dozen small vessels, greeted Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas cruise ship as it docked this morning in Labadee, Haiti.

Labadee is a 260-acre peninsula – dubbed a “vacationer’s paradise” by the cruise line — along Haiti’s lush, mountainous and secluded north coast. A small beachfront resort with palm covered cabanas, the area is separated from the rest of the island, cut off by a 12-foot high fence and guarded by security forces.

Royal Caribbean, according to various cruise websites, has leased the land until 2050.

At first it appeared the vessels were approaching the docked ship as part of a rehearsed welcoming ceremony. However, when two coast guard ships arrived and began circling the vessels and encouraging them to leave the waters, it became clear this was a protest – though the specifics of the protesters complaints were not completely spelled out.

One sign, held by one of the protesters, read “USA Away!”

The Freedom of the Seas cruise ship states it carries 3600 passengers. Many were waiting near the gangplanks waiting to disembark shortly after breakfast. With the protests going on many on the ship watched from their balconies taking pictures and waiting for further instructions

After some thirty minutes’ delay the ship, a voice over the ship’s loudspeaker system announce there would be a short delay before passengers could leave the ship. The vessels continued to play cat and mouse with the coast guard vessels, slightly larger than the protesters’ boats, but all dwarfed by the docked cruise ship.

After more than two hours a voice once again came across the loudspeaker system explaining to passengers that local Haitian elections will take place in another week and that the protests they were watching were a local matter.

It seemed a number of passengers and crew members weren’t buying this explanation. 

Finally, the voice stated that the cruise ship would not be disembarking today “for the safety of our passengers, which we hold to be of the utmost importance.”

One veteran crewmember told me said she had been sailing into Labadee for 13 years and this was the first time she had seen such a protest.

Nestled on the northern coast of Haiti, Labadee, according to Royal Caribbean’s website, “is the ultimate private destination for cruise vacationers – and we’re the only cruise line that sails there.”

According to several cruise websites, passengers are not allowed to leave Labadee to venture out to see the rest of the island. Haiti is the poorest of the nations in the Western hemisphere and suffered a devastating earthquake in 2010, although it apparently did not affect the northern part of the island where Labadee is located.

Cruise travel websites state that only a small group of Haitian merchants are given rights to sell their merchandise and establish their businesses at the Labadee resort. Most workers are employed by Royal Caribbean and come from outside nations.

Royal Caribbean proudly advertises its private Haitian resort. One advertisement reads: “Looking to unleash adrenaline? Strap on a helmet and harness, and soar down 500 feet on the Dragon’s Breath Flight Line, the world’s longest zip line over water. Curious to explore Haiti’s unique culture and incredible landscapes? Explore Haitian life, its coastline, flora and fauna on one of our exciting shore excursions and tours. Ready to kick back, relax and sip a Labadoozie? Get the VIP treatment while unwinding beachside in our private cabanas. Take it all in on one of our eastern or western Caribbean cruises to Labadee.”

Visitors don’t spend the night at Labadee. For years blogs and message boards have been critical of the idea of tourists frolicking in the sun at Labadee when so much hunger and poverty rest only miles away.

"Royal Caribbean is performing a sickening act to me by taking tourists to Haiti," wrote one poster on CNN’s Connect the World blog. "Having a beach party while people are dead, dying and suffering minutes away hardly makes me want to cruise that particular line," wrote another.

Freedom of the Seas
was back at sea by mid-morning with Captain Ron Holmes on one of the ship’s channels reassuring passengers that the protests were solely a local matter and that there would be plenty of activities on board the ship, all intended to make up for the lost fun they had suffered from being kept at sea by the protesters.

Video Credit: Tom Fox

 

Many news sources are reporting that thousands of Haitian protesters have rioted in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and other locations in Haiti against President Michel Martelly and the upcoming election to determine his successor, which some say is rigged in favor of his ruling party, according to Time magazine. The turmoil comes before the scheduled runoff election this coming Sunday between Jovenel Moïse, who is backed by the current government, and opposition candidate Jude Célestin. 

Protests are also taking place today in the port at Labadee, an idyllic 260 acre "private destination" operated by the Royal Caribbean cruise line on the northern coast of the country. Small boatloads of protesters have blocked cruise passengers from disembarking the Freedom of the Seas which arrived Labadee, Haiti - Royal Caribbean by Tom Foxin Labadee this morning.

The controversy has been witnessed first hand by Tom Fox, a passenger aboard the Freedom of the Seas. Ironically, Mr. Fox just retired after 35 year as the publisher of the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) two weeks ago.

You can read Mr. Fox’s account here

Mr. Fox says that the cruise ship was met by a number of small vessels packed with protesters clanging pans and shouting, One or two Haitian coast guard vessels kept watch, guiding through and among the other vessels. Mr. Fox reports that the demonstration has been non violent so far. The captain of the Royal Caribbean cruise ship announced that the protests were "due to the upcoming Haitian election."

It is curious, however, that one of the signs on one of the vessels read "USA Away," according to Mr Fox. 

In 1986, Royal Caribbean shook hands with the tyrant Baby Doc Duvalier to seal a deal where it obtained exclusive control of 260 acres of sovereign waterfront land from Haiti. Royal Caribbean trademarked it’s new "private island" – "Labadee®" – derived from the name of the 1600’s French plantation baron and slave owner Marquis de La’Badie. It then erected a 12 foot high security fence around its "island" and hired armed security guards to keep the impoverished Haitians out.

Royal Caribbean ran into a public relations nightmare in 2010 following the earthquake which devastated Port of Prince, when it sailed its mega cruise ships into its private resort.

Mr. Fox points out that a Freedom of the Seas crew member says that the protest at Labadee has been unprecedented in her 13 years of visiting the port, although Mr. Fox tweeted that some crew members doubt that the protests are, in fact, due to the Haitian elections.

There is a video on Facebook (shown below) with people leaving comments that the protests are about a work-strike and the use of the $10 passenger head tax collected by the cruise line.  

All photo credit to Tom Fox.

Video Credit Jc Roy.

 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=Z4JKyNv7wsw

 

Haiti-Caribbean News Network reports that Haiti will require Royal Caribbean cruise passenger to pay an extra two dollars to visit the cruise line’s "private destination" in Labadee.

The extra money, to be paid by the cruise passengers and not the cruise line, is intended to fund social projects benefiting the local community.

Effective March 15, 2015, cruise passenger will pay $12 a piece instead of the $10 being paid now. 

Royal Caribbean has invested virtually nothing into the local community over the past 20 years. Royal Labadee - Royal CaribbeanCaribbean built a modest little school four years ago, which it named after itself.  The school was built using materials donated by third parties and cost only around $425,000. 

With around 600,000 cruise passengers visiting Labadee a year, that turns out to be only a little over seventy cents a person for the school.  The cruise line has been criticized for erecting a barb-wire fence around the resort to keep the Haitians out (photo right), and not providing food for the children at the school or transportation to transport the children safely there.

On the other hand, Royal Caribbean has spent tens of millions of dollars in labadee building a deep water port, a huge zip-line and other improvements for its passengers.

Haiti’s Prime minister, Laurent Lamothe, announced last month that he agreed to permit Carnival to develop the island of Tortuga in a deal that sounds like the Royal Caribbean-Haiti deal in Labadee. 

 

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page

Photo Credit: Rudbeckia Flickr Photostream "A Haitian view of Labadee"

This weekend I ran across an interesting opinion piece from Caribbean News Now.  Entitled "Turning Haiti’s Historic Sites into Tourist Destinations," the article begins with a quote from an article I wrote in January 2010 following the horrific earthquake in Haiti: 

Is it appropriate to sail into the idyllic port of Labadee, Haiti on a pleasure cruise when the dead remain unburied and the impoverished country writhes in chaos? (Cruise Law News, January 19, 2010)

Labadee - Haiti - Royal CaribbeanThe opinion piece was written by Anthony L. Hall, who publishes an interesting and well written blog called the iPinions Journal.  Mr. Hall discusses developing tourism around two of Haiti’s historic sites – the ruins of the Palais de Sans Souci, which was the residence of Henri Christophe, Haiti’s revolutionary war hero and first president, and the Citadelle Laferrière, which is a fort he built in anticipation of fighting off the French.  

Mr. Hall is critical of Royal Caribbean’s attitude toward Haiti, which he compares to " . . . resort developers throughout the Caribbean who have been invited over the years by local governments to treat vast areas of their pristine coastline as exclusive, almost hermetically sealed enclaves for visiting tourists."  

But he is not content hurling "belated moral indignation" at what I have often characterized as the worst cruise line in the world.  Instead, he suggests that if Royal Caribbean could develop these historical sites as shore excursions, and in the process raise money for a ten mile stretch of roadway from its private port of "Labadee," the cruise line might "make itself a better corporate citizen and earn an unprecedented amount of international goodwill."

In theory that would be great. 

But Royal Caribbean as the steward of the historic residence and fort of the first President of free black Haiti? 

Oy vey! 

From a historical perspective, it’s a repugnant notion.  The cruise line’s private enclave of "Labadee®" is a name that Royal Caribbean trademarked as a variation of Marquis de La’Badie who settled in Haiti in the 1600’s.  That’s right, Marquis de La’Badie, the French slave owner, whose descendants fought against Henri Christophe and his army of former black slaves. 

Royal Caribbean wasn’t thinking of the 1791 Slave Uprising or the Haitian revolution when its snabbed the 260 acres of sovereign Haitian land to create its own enclave.  It ignored Haiti’s black national hero when it went about marketing its slice of Haiti.  So why should Royal Caribbean be Henri Christophe - Haititrusted to be the steward of such historic sites when it already staked its presence on the island bearing the white de La’Badie slave owner name?

Putting history aside, there are practical business concerns that make it unlikely that Royal Caribbean will open up the gates and send its passengers outside of its barb wire fences which surround Labadee without expecting to make lots of money using the Citadelle as a shore excursion. 

The cruise line makes tens of millions of dollars a month keeping the thousands of passengers locked in Labadee where their only sources of fun are drinking, renting jet skis, para-sailing, and zip lining.

For Royal Caribbean to invest in developing these sites, it would need a deal where the venture would be highly profitable and it would probably demand the name rights to market the project.  Would it advertise these sites to its passengers as part of the Royal Caribbean "Private Destinations?" 

Royal Caribbean has already drafted plans to develop the Citadelle for its guests.  You can see the cruise line’s plans here.

For the past 25 years, Royal Caribbean has accomplished little in Haiti outside of Labadee, other than a $425,000 school which it named after itself as a publicity stunt but it still could not figure out how to feed the school kids or provide them with transportation to the school bearing its name.   

Mr. Hall’s challenge to Royal Caribbean to rehabilitate its image and make itself a better corporate citizen is laudable.  But this is a corporation which consistently underachieves when it comes to the interests of Haiti.  

Royal Caribbean will never help Haiti develop the historical Haitian sites associated with Henri Christophe without demanding that it control the operation, name the project, and profit the most from it.  It makes too much tax-free money keeping its passengers safely ensconced in its fantasy creation of Labadee®.   And for historical reasons, the notion that a corporation like this should be the steward of the legacy of Henri Christophe is a farce.    

 

For other articles about my view of Royal Caribbean and Haiti, consider reading:

Royal Caribbean "Returns" to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® – While Haiti Suffers

The Royal Caribbean School in Haiti – A Genuine Commitment or a Publicity Stunt?

Royal Caribbean: $6,800,000,000 in Tax-Free Income, But No Lunch Money for the Kindergarten Students in Haiti?

 

Photo / Images credit:

Top:  Not My Tribe

The New York times published an excellent article about a small school which Royal Caribbean built in Haiti.  Entitled "In Haiti, Class Comes With a Peek at Lush Life," the article was written by Sarah Maslin Nir and contains some interesting photographs by Piotr Redlinski.  

The little school is called "École Nouvelle Royal Caribbean," which translated literally is the "New Royal Caribbean School."  Naming a school for disadvanged kindergarten and grade school Haitian students after a Fortune 200 corporation seems to be somewhere between arrogant and clueless, but this is a cruise line struggling for self-promotion. 

Ecole Nouvelle Royal Caribbean - Cruise School LabadeeThe cruise line built the school last year, following the public ridicule and loathing it received after it continued to sail to Haiti after the earthquake in January of 2010 which killed hundreds of thousands of Haitians and left millions more homeless and in a state of shock.  The breadth and depth of the Haitian suffering appeared lost on the cruise line executives as Royal Caribbean cruise ship after cruise ship unloaded thousands of passengers in Labadee to graze at the oversized buffets and sip margaritas in lounge chairs on the cruise line’s private beach while hungry Haitians on the other size of a ten foot barb wire fence begged for food. 

I commented on this gross spectacle in an article Royal Caribbean Sails  to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® – While Haiti Suffers.

When the school opened last October, I asked the rhetorical question whether it was a genuine commitment or a publicity stunt?   Royal Caribbean said it spent some $425,000 to build the school.  Not much, particularly considering that Royal Caribbean collected around $6,800,000,000 (billion) last year and pays no U.S. Federal income tax because it incorporated itself in Liberia and registered its cruise ships in places like Liberia and the Bahamas.

The NY Times article takes a critical look at school today, some six months after the school opened to great fanfare and cruise line CEO Richard Fain then flew back to his mansion in Miami.  Although the residents seemed to appreciate the school, many of those interviewed by Ms. Nir asked why hasn’t the cruise line done more?

The article points out that the cruise line fails to provide any meals to the children, "leaving many children hungry .  .  .  the vast majority of the 200 or so students do not eat anything from early morning until they get home after school, teachers said.  Some students fall asleep at their desks from fatigue."

The Times also explains that many students commute for an hour and are often piled dangerously in the back of pickup trucks.   

Cruise CEO Fain defended the cruise line’s modest project, telling the Times "we are a business. We’re not a charitable organization."   

Richard Fain - Adam Goldstein - Cruise Executives There can be no debate about that, considering last year CEO Fain and cruise president Adam Goldstein (photo right) together pocketed over $12,500,000 in income.  

How can any executive justify not feeding kids lunch, particularly in a school which bears the corporation’s own name, not to mention the destitute circumstances surrounding the cruise line’s private beach? The cruise line didn’t even bother to install a stove, cook top or refrigerator for juice for the children.  Inexcusable, considering the orgy of food at the buffets on the mega-ships which sail from Miami into Labadee.  And consider this cruise review a couple of years ago about Labadee:

One of the best Private Island experiences you could ever wish for!  Labadee has four beaches and facilities for lots of people!  Labadee is owned and operated by Royal Caribbean for the exclusive use of it’s own passengers only . . .  Royal Caribbean maintains a nice lunch area on the island.  Here you can graze at your heart’s content,  The cuisine was hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, ribs, various salads, and deserts.  No charge.  It’s all included in the cost of your cruise!

If Royal Caribbean can charge passengers thousands of dollars to cruise on its ships like the Oasis of the Seas and around $100 to ride jet skis for just an hour, certainly it can figure out how to buy a few buses to safely transport the children to school and install a few grills to feed the kids some left over hotdogs from the other side of the barb wire fence? 

Royal Caribbean Cruises - Haiti - LabadeeMay 10th Update:

Luke Renner has a different view of this issue in Luke’s blog "The Royal Treatment."  Check out his non-profit organization – Fireside International.

 

 

Image credits:

Top:  prodevhaiti.org

Middle:  Royal Caribbean International Flickr photostream

Bottom:  Luke Reamer

The Miami Herald published an article on Friday entitled "New School, New Hope for Young Haitians" about Royal Caribbean Cruises building a new school in Labadee on the 260 acres which it leases from the Haitian government. 

The article points out that the new 6,500-square-foot campus consists of six buildings, twelve classrooms, administrative offices and a computer lab.  Around 230 students from nearby villages, from kindergarten to fifth grade, will study at the new school.

Royal Caribbean School Labadee Haiti - L'Ecole Nouvelle Royal CaribbeanThe construction was overseen by a Miami company Innovida which used lightweight yet sturdy materials which can withstand an earthquake and high winds. 

As much as a school facility like this was needed in Haiti, I could not help but to think what a meager expenditure a project like this represents considering the financial resources of this cruise line.  It made me think of two basic questions:

1. What, if anything, has Royal Caribbean done for Haiti in the last 25 years?

Royal Caribbean has been in Haiti for over 25 years.  This is the first development of anything remotely benefiting the local people.  The cruise line was roundly criticized when it sailed into its "private destination" in Labadee earlier this year, after the devastating earthquake to the south in Port-au-Prince, a PR nightmare which I wrote about in an article "Royal Caribbean "Returns" to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® – While Haiti Suffers." 

The Miami Herald article mentions that the new school cost only $425,000 to build.  Royal Caribbean collects over $6,000,000,000 (billion) a year and pays no U.S. Federal income tax because it is incorporated in Liberia and its cruise ships fly foreign flags.   Its last "investment" in Haiti was the multi-million dollar zip line amusement ride in its "private destination" of Labadee for the exclusive of its paying guests.  Haitians are kept on the other side of the cruise line’s barb wire fence

Everytime a cruise ship like the Oasis of the Seas sails with 5,000 or 6,000 passengers to Labadee, the cruise line collects millions and millions of dollars in cruise fare each cruise.  An investment of $425,000 from a corporation like this is peanuts.

2. What, if anything, does the cruise line plan to do in the future?

There was some talk about this being one of, maybe, two schools to be built in Haiti.  That’s it.  I doubt that there will be a second school.  I hope I am wrong.  But there are no discussions of anything resembling a multi-million dollar building project, like you see when a new port is constructed and hundreds of millions of dollars are budgeted.  

Is this the extent of the cruise line’s investment in the host country?  When you think of what commitment really means, is $425,000 reflective of this cruise line’s sense of loyalty and duty to Haiti?  Probably so.

Royal Caribbean School Labadee Haiti - L'Ecole Nouvelle Royal CaribbeanSeems like a pittance.

There are a number of online photographs of the school opening, such as the Innovide’s Royal Caribbean School photo page.

You can see Royal Caribbean’s CEO, Richard Fain, attending the opening ceremony, cutting the royal blue ribbons, standing in front of the sign for the "Royal Caribbean" school, posing in front of a banner proclaiming the opening of the "Royal Caribbean" school," and smiling for the camera in front of Haitian school children wearing "Royal Caribbean" blue polo shirts emblazened with the "Royal Caribbean" name and the "Royal Caribbean" logo.

These photos make me feel rather squeamish.  Is this a marketing stunt?

When I clicked on Fain’s Chairman’s Blog, I could not help but note that one of the first comments to his article about the new school reads as folllows: 

"I really love the RCI brand, but was it necessary to brand all of the kids?"

December 4, 2010 Update: Interested in a true commitment by a corporation to education? Read: What the Cruise Industry Has to Learn From My Cousins Back in Arkansas

 

Photo credits:

Photo 1:  Innovide

Photo 2:  Ricahrd Fain’s Chairman’s Blog

 

Barbados Free Press reports that in September, Royal Caribbean is hosting a "Tea Party At Sea" aboard the Liberty of the Seas.

In an article entitled "Anti-Obama Tea Party Cruise Conceals Haiti Destination As “Hispaniola,” the Barbados Free Press explains that Royal Caribbean is teaming up with the right-wing conservative website World Net Daily to sail a ship full of tea party fanatics around the Caribbean.  The "Tea Party At Sea" cruise will be full of anti-Obama speakers and their like minded "patriots." 

Tea Party At Sea - Tea Party Cruise - LabadeeKinda like the S.S. Fox News captained by Glenn Beck on steroids.  

As the Barbados Free Press points out, the promotional materials for the cruise omit the fact that the cruise ship will be sailing to, among other locations, HAITI.  The organizers have instead listed the Haitian port of Labadee as being in "Hispaniola" – which consists of both Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  For decades, Royal Caribbean marketed its "private resort" of Labadee as being in "Hispaniola" in order to keep the image of starving and impoverished Haitians away from the American public.

We have written many articles about Royal Caribbean’s boondoggle in Labadee and its exploitation of the people of Haiti.

"Labadee®" is a name that Royal Caribbean trademarked  as a variation of the French slave owner Marquis de La’Badie who settled in Haiti in the 1600’s.

What a spectacle this will be!  Tea Party cruisers criticizing our first black President as they sail aboard a foreign flagged cruise ship operated by a tax avoiding Liberian company into the cruise line’s private resort named after a slave owner, while millions of impoverished, injured, and homeless Haitians suffer on the other side of Royal Caribbean’s 12 foot high barbed wire security fence. 

Tea Party At Sea - Tea Party Cruise - Labadee

Credits:          World Net Daily (via Barbados Free Press)

 

Syracuse New York local news station Channel 10’s "Travel with Val" takes a look at Royal Caribbean’s controversial decision to continue sailing to its "private resort" of Labadee, Haiti. 

While the cruise line is shipping pallets of food and supplies to Labadee and committed $1 million from its net proceeds, is this enough from a corporation which grosses over $6 billion and pays no taxes? 

 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=Bef1X9UEtFU%26hl%3Den_US%26fs%3D1%26rel%3D0

 

We have written many articles on the relationship between Labadee and Royal Caribbean.

 

Credits:   

Video               Syracuse New York local news station Channel 10’s "Travel with Val"