Royal Caribbean Suspends All Visits to Labadee, Haiti

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Royal Caribbean is notifying guests on current and upcoming sailings that the cruise line has suspended all calls to Labadee, Haiti due to continuing unrest in the Caribbean country.

This comes just a day after the cruise line started canceling planned tours at the destination to keep guests safe while visiting the private port of call.

Royal Caribbean Cancels All Calls to Haiti

Royal Caribbean International has begun reaching out to guests booked on sailings with visits to its private destination of Labadee, Haiti to notify them that the port will no longer be visited at this time. This follows a recent prison break during which approximately 4,000 inmates escaped from two prison facilities.

“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 email notifications read.

Safety is always the first priority aboard any cruise ship, whether for inclement weather, such as during hurricane season, due to global tensions, those impacting sailings in the Red Sea, or for crime or violence at a port of call, which is now impacting Labadee.

It should be noted that Labadee is on the nation’s north shore, 128 miles (206 kilometers) from where the prison breaks occurred. While this is approximately a 6.5-hour drive from the private cruise port, and the port area itself is secured with private barriers and additional security, concern has been growing among guests about the safety of visiting the port.

Royal Caribbean Ship in Labadee
Royal Caribbean Ship in Labadee (Photo Credit: Solarisys)

The last ship to visit Labadee at this time has been the 155,889-gross-ton, Freedom-class Liberty of the Seas, which enjoyed a call to the port on Wednesday, March 13.

Oasis of the Seas Among First Ships Impacted

The first ships to be affected by these port cancellations will be Oasis of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, and Adventure of the Seas, with Labadee visits scheduled on Thursday, March 14; Friday, March 15; and Sunday, March 17, respectively. Each of these cruises is already underway but will adjust en route.

All three vessels will now enjoy an extra day at sea instead of their visits to Labadee. Extra activities, games, and performances will be added to the daily activity schedules to be sure all guests have plenty of fun to enjoy onboard.

In addition, each ship is adding extra time to other ports of call where possible to give passengers extra time ashore to explore other destinations in safety. This can give guests time to take advantage of a longer shore tour or both morning and afternoon tours, or simply provides more time to enjoy local shopping, restaurants, and attractions.

Royal Caribbean's Labadee, Haiti
Royal Caribbean’s Labadee, Haiti (Photo Credit: Solarisys)

Royal Caribbean does note that the suspension of visits to Labadee is intended to be temporary, and future sailings will continue to be evaluated in the days ahead of each visit to make the safest choice for passengers. Upcoming sailings aboard Mariner of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, and Grandeur of the Seas have already had the port cancelled as well.

“We have suspended calls into Labadee, Haiti for the next 7 days and will continue suspension on a rolling basis with 3 days advance notification to our guests sailing on itineraries impacted and changed as we monitor and evaluate the situation,” explained Michael Bayley, President & CEO of Royal Caribbean International.

If guests had booked any pre-paid Royal Caribbean International shore tours for Labadee, full refunds for those excursions will be processed to travelers’ onboard accounts and may be used for onboard purchases, spa treatments, or tours in other ports of call. Any amount remaining at the end of the sailing will be returned to the card on file within 14 business days from debarkation.

Decision Follows Cancellations of Tours at Labadee

It is somewhat surprising that Royal Caribbean has made the decision to outright cancel complete visits to Labadee just one day after cancelling select shore tours at the destination.

While not all tours were cancelled, most options that had any potential to stray from the immediate vicinity of the port – such as jet skiing, kayaking, sailing, etc. – were cancelled. This would dramatically reduce the activity options available for guests and could have created some backlash about the lack of opportunities at the port, while raising questions about how safe a visit could be.

There have been no immediate reports of escalating violence close to Labadee, but in a situation as tense as the one in the troubled country, it is undoubtedly best to be cautious and wait for the situation to cool before resuming visits.

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