Cruise ships in Haiti


If you are a frequent reader of this blog, then you will know by now that I don’t just blog about Mama. In my travels throughout the Caribbean and Europe I have formed some “opinions” as an ESL teacher and a former employee in the hospitality industry, especially while working on cruise ships.

This post is about Haiti. Not because I want to jump on any popular bandwagons so much as I have an opinion about some of the things I have been reading online. I’ve been following an online news survey and am shocked that the votes are at a 49/51% split.

Basically, the gist of it is whether or not it is a good idea for the cruise ships to resume their port of call in Labadee, Haiti. If you want to participate in this vote go to this link:

http://travel.newsvine.com/_question/2010/01/19/3779083-should-cruise-ships-have-returned-to-haiti?pc=20&sp=40#discussion

At the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney, here are my 2 cents worth: The island of Labadee is 60 miles away from the earth quake zone. The government of Haiti receives approximately $6 per cruise ship passenger in tax fees, multiply that by approximately 4,000 passengers per day and the money is pretty considerable to help their economy. This does not include the countless jobs that these “vacationers” create for locals. So, do the math.

(Also click here if you want to read an article about Royal Caribbean going to Haiti)

Some have voiced that it would be insensitive to be sipping cocktails on the beach when not too far from them there is death and devastation. So my question is this: Is it better to just ignore Haiti altogether then? If you are on a vacation on a ship and it goes to Haiti and you don’t feel comfortable sitting on a beach while tragedy is near, then perhaps you would feel better donating all your vacation money to their cause?

I’ve witnessed far too many “tourists” who take for granted that if they pay top dollar for a vacation then they should be exempt from reality. Sorry to disappoint 50% of these voters but the real world doesn’t exactly work that way. You want a beautiful beach and a nice vacation, I get that. But these places are not just placed on earth for our desires. Real people live in these countries with real issues.

I used to work in the corporate world and I know what it’s like to scrimp and save for that perfect vacation on my 2 weeks a year escape from the office. If I had not had the experiences since then working on the side of tourism and hospitality I would probably want to pretend that all was well with the world too. But, in fact I am proud that I had the opportunity to expand my world view and really see clearly. I don’t know how it is even possible these days to still live in a bubble? Ignorance is not bliss, it is just simply ignorance.

When Katrina hit New Orleans I was on one of the Carnival ships sent there by FEMA. I lost my job along with thousands of other crew members. I was also going to be separated from my husband to be. Not something I was very happy about when we had already waited a full year to get on the same ship together. But, that’s life. I made the choice to stay on board (much to the dismay of my boss), and I volunteered for 2 weeks. Yes, I was nervous. They were still randomly shooting at anything and I was fearful to even walk on the outer decks when we first arrived.

Our “guests” were roughly 2,500 male police officers with guns! I was one of only 10 women that remained on board. Keep in mind that these NOLA police had not slept for days, had a shower or a descent meal and most of them also lost their own homes and families in the devastation. Oh, and not to mention they were being shot at by looting civilians. (one female crew member had a gun pulled on her while unlocking a cabin door! Lets just say that these boys were tired, hungry and a “bit jumpy”).

I’m only stating my opinion here, but I also know that most of my readers are Expats and/or seasoned travellers. So, I welcome your feedback and encourage you to go to the above link and cast your votes!

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About lmarmstrong66

I'm a blogger, painter, writer, singer. For the love of all things in nature and creativity.
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3 Responses to Cruise ships in Haiti

  1. Meagan says:

    Very thought provoking… Definitely a double edge sword. Its hard to say how I would feel if I was already booked for said cruise, naturally concerned about safety during port but given the opportunity to help, I think I’d be first in line. I’ve never been to Haiti but I know the extent of poverty and Govt corruption is extreme like in many of our worlds most beautiful spots (odd isn’t it). It seems as though there should be some “Fine” imposed on the cruise ship to veer off course.

    Great post, Meg

  2. J.Doe says:

    I agree with you that the ships should dock in Haiti. Those tourist dollars will make there way to Haitians who need it, but I have to be honest that my first reaction was ‘Ewww…how can one enjoy a relaxing cocktail with dead and dying hungry people under buildings.’

  3. Thx for your email. Your initial reaction is exactly why I felt the need to write that post. If you have not worked in the tourism industry it’s hard sometimes to see the whole picture as a vacationer. No one wants to see doom and gloom while on vacation, I can appreciate that. But avoiding the rest of Haiti would be a huge mistake.

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