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tourism in the vicinity of calamity

January 19, 2010

Royal Caribbean, the famous luxury Cruise line promised to send Haiti humanitarian aid in the sum of 1 million dollars.

Meanwhile, it continues to take tourists to the island, recently devastated by the worse earthquake in the last twenty years.

photo by Carolyn Cole for LA Times

The company’s CEO justified, or simple stated, that the resort and private beach – Labadee, in the northern part of the island (nearly unaffected), is 100 miles from Port-au Prince – the capital and most affected area. He went on, saying that the cruise would be available to send aid and transport it with its vessels.

There was great buzz on the media worldwide and soon Royal Caribbean declared that its cruise Independence of the Seas visited the island taking water and food.


Despite the humanitarian aid, which will always be a benevolent and charitable gesture, how can we describe the act of taking tourists enjoying enormous quantities of food and beverage, with all the wastage we know happens in such cruises, just some miles away from the tragedy?

In spite of the humanitarian efforts, how would you feel to relax and stuff yourself in a private beach in Haiti in the present conditions? Would you board the cruise in the first place?

Could the cruise be replete of food and water instead of tourists?

What was going through tourists´ minds, while they seized their vacation in the vicinity of a calamity?

Did the passengers get off the cruise? If so, is the consumption on the island to help the economy justified?

Does the trip to Labadee to keep the employees productive validate the visit? And the money that stays in Labadee – what percentage goes to Royal Caribbean versus the percentage that goes to Haitian employees?

What if the cruise carried volunteers along with food and water?

These are just a few of the questions that permeate my escapist mind, what are yours?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 20, 2010 9:12 pm

    This doesn’t sound good at all. Being a tourist and wanting to wander around without helping, getting in the way and taking pictures could only be described as the lowest thing a human could possibly do.

    But I would suspect that the majority of tourists on the boat will want to help, or at least stay on board feeling uncomfortable. I haven’t read the full story so I’m not sure whether the cruise happened before the earthquake and Haiti was enroute; or the cruise is an post earthquake event.

  2. January 20, 2010 9:16 pm

    Ok I just reread your post, it is something I know I could never do, to sit on a beach an lap up luxury in the midst of a disaster. Then again do we know if any were medical staff or other needed people who were able to volunteer their services? Or whether passengers left generous donations? Cruise ships should review their ethics in these types of situations and it should be done now, not next year.

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