Royal Caribbean’s Labadee Problem: Update

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Words matter, and nowhere in the cruise world is that becoming more clear than at Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s beloved beach resort. While many people mistakenly believe Labadee to be a private island owned by the line, it is in fact part of the country of Haiti. And while that may not seem like a huge distinction, the fact that Labadee is a resort, and not an island, is primarily why several of the line’s recent cruise ships have had to bypass the gorgeous location.  While Allure of the Seas was able to visit the tropical paradise on Tuesday, it’s safe to assume that Royal Caribbean will continue monitoring the situation and making decisions on a case-by-case basis in the weeks ahead.

Will more ships wind up skipping Labadee?

As it happens, Haiti is in a bit of turmoil at the moment thanks to a rather contentious presidential election. Sure, the occasional insult might be thrown during a Donald Trump rally, but in Haiti, things are downright ugly, with accusations of fraud running rampant and protests erupting in the street. As NPR’s Carrie Kahn recently explained on Morning Edition, “It has just fallen apart here in the last couple of days. There hasn’t even been a date when they’re going to hold new elections, and the protests just continue to grow here in the streets.”

Unfortunately, that impacts cruisers because Royal Caribbean has apparently made the wise decision to put passenger safety first, even if that means occasionally having some disgruntled guests on their hands. “If a protest takes place while a ship is in port,” they said in a recent statement, “there would be a significant impact on our guests’ ability to enjoy Labadee.”

How much longer will the protests go on?

That is a valid question and, at the moment, one without a definite answer. As Kahn explained, “There is a constitutional deadline that the president needs to leave office by February 7. There’s no way that there can be an election before then that can be held peacefully and credibly.”

Translation: The situation won’t be resolved anytime soon.

This isn’t the first time Royal Caribbean has had to contend with issues where Labadee is concerned. Back in 2004, visits to the port were temporarily halted due to — you guessed it — political unrest in the island nation. Haiti does, however, have good reason to want to see the ships continue docking, as the Christian Science Monitor reported back in 2007 that Royal Caribbean had been the largest travel-based revenue generator for the country for over a decade.

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