Monday, January 18, 2010

Cruise ships still visit Haiti

This is one of those cases where your head tells you one thing and your heart says another. I know that for Haiti’s weak economy it is vital that these ships continue business as usual. I am sure there are more than a few Haitians who are beyond grateful that these ships are still coming so that they can have a job at a time like this. But there is just something so unseemly about people having a ball so close to such human suffering.  The juxtaposition really is a tough concept to wrap your head around. 

From The Guardian
 Sixty miles from Haiti's devastated earthquake zone, luxury liners dock at private beaches where passengers enjoy jetski rides, parasailing and rum cocktails delivered to their hammocks. 
The 4,370-berth Independence of the Seas, owned by Royal Caribbean International, disembarked at the heavily guarded resort of Labadee on the north coast on Friday; a second cruise ship, the 3,100-passenger Navigator of the Seas is due to dock.
The Florida cruise company leases a picturesque wooded peninsula and its five pristine beaches from the government for passengers to "cut loose" with watersports, barbecues, and shopping for trinkets at a craft market before returning on board before dusk. Safety is guaranteed by armed guards at the gate.
The decision to go ahead with the visit has divided passengers. The ships carry some food aid, and the cruise line has pledged to donate all proceeds from the visit to help stricken Haitians. But many passengers will stay aboard when they dock; one said he was "sickened".
"I just can't see myself sunning on the beach, playing in the water, eating a barbecue, and enjoying a cocktail while [in Port-au-Prince] there are tens of thousands of dead people being piled up on the streets, with the survivors stunned and looking for food and water," one passenger wrote on the Cruise Critic internet forum.
"It was hard enough to sit and eat a picnic lunch at Labadee before the quake, knowing how many Haitians were starving," said another. "I can't imagine having to choke down a burger there now.''
Some booked on ships scheduled to stop at Labadee are afraid that desperate people might breach the resort's 12ft high fences to get food and drink, but others seemed determined to enjoy their holiday."I'll be there on Tuesday and I plan on enjoying my zip line excursion as well as the time on the beach," said one.
The company said the question of whether to "deliver a vacation experience so close to the epicentre of an earthquake" had been subject to considerable internal debate before it decided to include Haiti in its itineraries for the coming weeks.
"In the end, Labadee is critical to Haiti's recovery; hundreds of people rely on Labadee for their livelihood," said John Weis, vice-president. "In our conversations with the UN special envoy of the government of Haiti, Leslie Voltaire, he notes that Haiti will benefit from the revenues that are generated from each call …
"We also have tremendous opportunities to use our ships as transport vessels for relief supplies and personnel to Haiti. Simply put, we cannot abandon Haiti now that they need us most."
"Friday's call in Labadee went well," said Royal Caribbean. "Everything was open, as usual. The guests were very happy to hear that 100% of the proceeds from the call at Labadee would be donated to the relief effort."
Forty pallets of rice, beans, powdered milk, water, and canned foods were delivered on Friday, and a further 80 are due and 16 on two subsequent ships. When supplies arrive in Labadee, they are distributed by Food for the Poor, a longtime partner of Royal Caribbean in Haiti.
Royal Caribbean has also pledged $1m to the relief effort and will spend part of that helping 200 Haitian crew members.
The company recently spent $55m updating Labadee. It employs 230 Haitians and the firm estimates 300 more benefit from the market. The development has been regarded as a beacon of private investment in Haiti; Bill Clinton visited in October. Some Haitians have decried the leasing of the peninsula as effective privatisation of part of the republic's coastline.


@eloh said...

I suppose using one of these ships for a hospital .. just wouldn't be cost effective.........

@eloh said...

I just read a "rest of the story"... seems this may not have been what it appears on the surface. They really were lending a hand.

Don't forget that the UN has said before the quake that Haiti was a very dangerous place...maybe even the most dangerous place..can't recall. That would be BEFORE over four thousand criminals escaped.

I saw where the UN wouldn't let the medical people coming in stay at the hospital because it wasn't safe etc...

Interesting that the first thing out of Bush's mouth was "security" but Clinton was into talking about food, etc... guess is the most important.

I saw where they were trying to get bodies/people out and everytime the backhoe would retreat a dozen thugs jumped on the pile and fought over the spoils.

It's a mess.

Osumashi Kinyobe said...

It is good to see some people affected, even bothered, by their comfort versus the obvious distress and pain the Haitians are in. It is hoped that the aid helps even a little.
As for the selfish SOBs who would prefer to sun themselves than see someone's suffering, let karma manifest itself in lost luggage at the very least.

Jeff Stone said...

Folks having a good time has not caused any distress in Haiti.

However, folks coming to Haiti and supporting an economy, perhaps creating jobs, is what Haiti needs to put an and to the dependence upon outside help which will only keep Haiti in poverty.

Janelle said...

May the tips be hugely generous.

Anonymous said...

I found this while doing some research on Labadee

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