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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability

Should Royal Caribbean continue to dock in Haiti at this present time? Is it a case of economic contribution, or bad business practice?

Let me know your thoughts.


Astrid Franchiska

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Royal Caribbean should continue to dock and help contribute in stimulating the haitian economy through the tourists' activities.
That's an interesting topic, and funny enough I was just part of a conversation regarding that the other day. From the information that I was told, the location where Royal Caribbean is docked is actually an area that is not affected by the quake and is some 90 miles from Haiti.

To be honest, it's not like they are docking right in the middle of Haiti in the most affected area, and the fact that they are bringing in a variety of supplies to help the people of Haiti, I don't know if I would consider that wrong. It could appear to be slightly insensitive on the part of Royal Caribbean, but they have a business to run, and in addition to doing business, they are still offering as much help as they can. As Leandro mentioned, by continuing to dock in Haiti, they stimulate the economy at the same time.

On a closing note, it is sad that nobody cared about the poverty and chaos in Haiti until there was an earthquake. I guess that's how life is sometimes though.
The cruise ships could be used much better for food and water delivery and production in Haiti. These large cruise ships also have medical clinics on board. I would be embarrassed to be a tourist in Haiti right now. The main port has been destroyed, and all means are needed to deliver needed relief supplies. It is true that the cruise ship companies are businesses, and helpful that they are contributing some profits to relief. But they can do more. The world's assets need to be marshaled to figure out how to help Haiti in the long run. It is not true, as another commenter has said, that only now is Haiti's poverty drawing attention. Many humanitarian and governmental organizations for many decades have been involved there. A big question is, what have they accomplished? Have some done more harm than good? Once the immediate suffering is dealt with, there needs to be an international conference to figure out a unified set of strategies for long-term improvement in Haiti--if the Haitian people want it. If they are unwilling or uninterested in making changes, that must be respected also. Different countries can contribute different things-- for example, Cuba has a very good record in natural disaster preparation, and has educated many medical personnel.
Marc Brenman
Given the magnitude of the disaster, the state of the infrastructure and the needs of the communities in Haiti I feel it is innappropriate at present.

If Royal Caribbean can dock a cruse ship it must have resources to share in the rescue and relief effort. At the very least the dock space would seem to be of high and immediate value for the groups trying to get needed aid into Haiti.

If in a couple of weeks the basic needs in Haiti are being met following a disaster of this magnitude and a cruise can be accomodated with positive impact then we might consider it economic contribution but at this time not a good idea.

It would be a good time for Royal Carribean and others to review their practices in Haiti and reflect on how they might best contribute to the longer-term rebuilding of Haiti. As others note the roots of the problems in Haiti run long and deep and it is time for some new and bold approaches!
To some extent, the question is moot since the US Coast Guard surveyed the port facilities and declared them to be unusable. Accordingly a cruise ship couldn't dock even if it wanted to. If the port were repaired so ships could dock, priority would be given to aid deliveries just as is happening at the airport. If a cruise ship were to moor in the harbor, passengers would not be able to disembark.

If Royal Caribbean really wanted to be helpful they could fill up one of their ships with aid supplies instead of passengers and deliver them to Haiti or the Dominican Republic for transshipment. However I doubt that Royal Caribbean would be that altruistic.

In terms of economic contribution, cruise ships don't leave as much money behind in the ports they visit as one might imagine. They pay port fees but many cruise passengers don't leave the ship and spend money in the port. In fact the cruise lines make distinct efforts to avoid leaving money behind in their destination countries. For instance they buy uninhabited islands to provide beach experiences to their passengers without the bother of dealing with the locals. A few years ago a resident of Haines, Alaska told me that several towns on the inside passage said they would collect a $5 fee for every cruise passenger who disembarked in their town to pay for such things as road paving and police protection. The cruise lines said they would not stop at any town that insisted on imposing such a fee. Several towns did insist and the cruise ships stopped going to them. I don't know who won that argument.

Cruise ships have been visiting Haiti for many years, supposedly providing some kind of economic benefit. However Haiti remains the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. How come the cruise ship arrivals don't seem to have helped them?
Ronald, your question about many years of supposed economic benefit in Haiti also applies to the many other forms of "aid" that have been provided to Haiti. Many of the humanitarian groups have been there for decades, some since 1954, to very little obvious signs of improvement or success. There needs to be a major reconsideration of all these efforts. I'm sure that if the dollar amount of aid were tallied up over the past 50 years, it would be a very large sum. I don't think anyone knows how much. The efforts appear to have been hit or miss, based on the particular interest of the group or international agency or country donor, with no particular standards, such as "All structures built with the aid will be earthquake resistant" or coordination. Efforts should be directed toward making the country self-sufficient and resilient. Cruise ships and tourism are a small piece.
Marc Brenman
Cruise ships spend very little money on land and take away the little dignity they have left by showing off the differences. In the Netherlands alone we collected yesterdayalready € 83 Million that is going to be well spend so that is not needed now.
While all money is welcome, I find it perverse and obscene to anchor off shore (no docking possible) and do condescending disaster tourism, especially in Port au Prince. It is not like buying souvenirs, haggling for prices for a piece of concrete, not from the Berlin wall. There are professionals that can look at what WE did wrong there. If the cruise ships want to supply water and food, they should sneak in at nigth and leave before they can be noticed.
Definitely! If my memory serves me, RC docks on a separate island that is not obviously branded as part of Haiti. Nevertheless the service industry jobs add value and enable livelihoods for locals. It contributes to the economic recovery of the country.
I absolutely think that Royal Caribbean should continue to visit Haiti. To pull out now would be mean-spirited and the business is really important to the local economy.

However, cruise ships in general are notorious polluters and energy wasters. Maybe Royal Caribbean is an exception, I don't know. If not, I suggest that in the short term you continue to visit Haiti, but that you create a plan for finding a way to utilize these ships for a better purpose--Perhaps as hospital ships.

I know some people enjoy cruises. I don't understand that much. I'd rather BE someplace. But if airplanes are more polluting, than maybe ships are a good way to get from one place to another.

Back to the question of visiting Haiti, think about what can be done to help visitors on the ground to get to know the issues of locally organized self-help projects who are being systematically shut out from the critical job of distributing supplies because the Preval government and the US government want to make sure that the community base movements get no credit for relief. This is costing lives---yesterday, today and in the days and weeks to come.
I have been on Royal Caribbean and stopped at Labadee, Hatti several times. It is at the north side of Haiti, far from the devastation of the earthquake. There are many Haitians who make their living working at and selling goods at Labadee. Does it make any sense to penalize these Haitians because of what happened in the south? I don't see any difference between vacationing for a day on the beach at Labadee or vacationing anywhere else and indulging oneself. It seems to me that if you think it is wrong to be at Labdee, you better not be sitting in Jamaica, Cancun. or Cabo right now.


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