"" Writer's Wanderings: Cruise Ships in Haiti Controversy

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Cruise Ships in Haiti Controversy

For a couple weeks after the terrible earthquake in Haiti, Royal Caribbean/Celebrity Cruise Line received harsh criticism for stopping at their private beach with passengers. We watched CNN-HLN fuel the controversy on the sat-TV with polls and inviting viewer comments and a tone of indignation. We were cruising at the time but not to Haiti.

What we did learn was that RC had cancelled some stops at first but then began visiting their beach at Labadee again and bringing supplies to help as well as passengers to continue to infuse their weak economy with financial support. For some people, no matter what the cruise line did, it would have been wrong.

An Associated Press story by Travis Reed and Vivian Sequera did a little better job of presenting the situation. They mentioned a young man who told them that if the ship didn't come in, his family didn't eat. It was his income. (The picture is one I took of part of the locals' arts/crafts market at Labadee.) To be fair, they mentioned the other side--those who felt it was morally wrong to frolick on the beach when others were suffering so much.

In the end, the quote they supplied from Arthur Applbaum, a Harvard University professor of ethics and public policy seemed to sum it up: "The people of Haiti are suffering whether you take your beach vacation in the Dominican Republic or in Hawaii and it is a failure of the moral imagination not to be equally troubled in Waikiki."

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