Royal Caribbean Suspends Stops in Haiti as Precaution Due to Civil Unrest

Labadee Haiti
Royal Caribbean operates a private destination on the north coast of Haiti (Royal Caribbean International)

Published Mar 14, 2024 5:18 PM by The Maritime Executive


Royal Caribbean International is suspending stops at its private destination in Haiti saying that it is a precautionary step in response to the recent escalation of violence in the Caribbean nation. It is the only cruise line to call in Haiti but took the action after the country’s embattled prime minister agreed to step down and the United States and United Nations called for all their citizens and aid workers to immediately leave the country.

Haiti has been plagued with years of violence and lawlessness with parts of the major cities controlled by gangs. The situation however flared up in recent weeks including efforts by the gangs to storm the facilities at Port-au-Prince and the country’s main airport.

Royal Caribbean limits its calls to a private port called Labadee on the north coast of the country. It is located more than 100 miles north of Port-au-Prince. The cruise line acquired rights to approximately 200 acres in 1986 and created a private enclave behind a security fence for passengers from its cruise ships. Royal Caribbean’s premium brand Celebrity Cruises also makes some calls at Labadee.

It started as a beach destination with a popular BBQ. Over the years, Royal Caribbean however has transformed its private destinations into amusement parks and revenue generators. Today it features everything from a zip line and coaster ride to villas that rent by the day. A small number of Haitians are employed at the enclave which is protected by private security, but it is largely isolated from the country.

“Due to the evolving situation in Haiti, and in an abundance of caution, we're temporarily suspending our visits to Labadee for our entire fleet,” the company said in a written statement. On social media CEO Michael Bayley’s account said it was for the next seven days.

Earlier in the week Royal Caribbean began canceling shore excursions which include water rides and fishing trips as well as issuing a general safety warning. Passengers are now being told that their cruises will either replace the private destination with a day at sea, extended stops in other ports such as Falmouth on Jamacia, or some cases add new destinations such as Grand Turk, a port in the Turks and Caicos normally a port primarily used for Carnival Corporation’s ships.

Royal Caribbean has had to suspend stops at Labadee in the past due to weather-related issues or unrest in the country. They have been criticized for continuing calls at the country in periods such as after the devastating earthquake but responded by saying they were carrying relief supplies to the island.