After last week's earthquake, millions of Haitians are struggling to merely survive. But at Labadee, a private resort on the relatively unscathed northern coast, tourists are still disembarking from cruise ships run by Royal Caribbean to frolic in the surf and cultivate a flattering suntan on the beach. The company, facing a tidal wave of criticism for continuing the cruises, is on the defense, pointing out that its ships have delivered aid to devastated areas of the island and pledging $1 million to the recovery fund. Is it too soon for cruise ships to dock in Haiti? (Watch a report about cruise ships docking in Haiti)
Royal Caribbean is disgusting: "This is what's wrong with the world, people," says James Melzer at Manolith. While the people of Haiti attempt to bury their dead and calculate the cost of the earthquake, "these guys are off on jet skis having a gay ol' time." This "blunder" is unforgivable. Well done, Royal Caribbean. You "just won the Most Disgusting Corporation of the Year Award, and it's only January."
"Royal Caribbean Makes Me Sick"
But Haiti must try to carry on as normal: Royal Caribbean's decision to continue cruises to Labadee may look "uncaring," says Matthew Schofield in the Kansas City Star, but it is performing a vital duty. The company employs a "couple hundred" Haitians at its resort, and is trying to preserve "every single stable job" available on the island. The company should be admired for "maintaining as much of the status quo as is possible," no matter how "horrible" it looks. "Even party boats help."
"Should luxury liners be docking in Haiti these days?"
It is revolting—but so is tourism: This story may provoke an "instinctive revulsion," says Gwyn Topham at the Guardian. But "globalized inequality" is what tourism is all about, whether in Haiti, Grenada, or Southeast Asia. The "chasm" that lies between "short lives of poverty" and "pampered passengers" is nothing new. Royal Caribbean deserves to be "applauded" for "ferrying relief supplies" to Haiti—and not chastised in the name of "standards" that "did not exist last week".
"The haves and the have-nots in Haiti"