If you book a cruise with Royal Caribbean or one of their companies such as Celebrity there is a chance you will be going to Labadee. What is called a private Island for Royal Caribbean guests only. Chances are you won’t of heard of it before and will want to know a little about it.
First of all it’s not an Island, it’s a peninsula bolted right onto Haiti. It is completely man made with very few natural elliments. For example if you dig more than an inch deep in some of the sand you will find concrete.
Now if you are happy to just have a beach day and think nothing much of it Labadee is for you. It’s one of the hottest places you will go in the Caribbean and the water isn’t too bad. There is also a lot to do including a rollercoaster down the mountain and a zip line across the water. There are also jet skis and kayaks to rent. All in all if you don’t think about anything you’ll have a great day. Oh also the food is free.
Okay for those of you who get off in port and have a bit of a think about where you are head straight on over to the furthest part of the “Island”, there is a BBQ there and quite a nice beach. If you set your eyes towards the trees and the mountains you’ll notice that your part of Haiti has been walled off. This wall is patrolled by armed guards. Strange that isn’t it? If you really focus on the trees you’ll start to notice children in those trees begging for food, the food you are currently eating for free. If at any point you try to throw food to them you will be spotted and asked to move to another part of the Island.
You see a cruise ship terminal on most of these Caribbean Islands help in great measure to the economy of that island. I believe Cozumel for example has the 4th biggest port in the world in regards to number of passengers. Cozumel benefits from this, it’s people and it’s economy. If we go back to Haiti, one of the poorest places in the Caribbean it benefits in no way when Royal Caribbean dock there. Anything spent on a jet ski rental or on drinks or anything at all goes straight back to Royal. The staff that work there? Oh it’s Royal Caribbean staff who work on the ship. Does anyone think this is fair? Especially when there are children begging just across a barrier of two walls and armed guards?
On the subject of this barrier there have been ships not able to dock due to protests from the local residents. They have put blockades up along the port so the ship can’t dock, they have invaded the “private island” making it unsafe for cruise ship guests to get off. These aren’t rebels or anything along those lines, they are simply residents that don’t want Royal Caribbean to dock on their land. Such a far cry from other parts of the Caribbean that couldn’t be more welcoming of cruise ship guests because of the money they bring in.
I worked on a Royal Caribbean Ship. Let me tell you I had a great time and it’s not a bad company to work for but I refused to get off when we docked in Labadee because of this dark situation that is kept very quiet. If you ever find yourself there have a look, try to give the young children some food (I say give like it’s easy, it’s not, it’s a good 40 yard throw across two walls).