LABADEE, Haiti Language: French, Creole Currency: Gourde Location: Hispaniola/Haiti/Hispaniola February temperatures: Average High 85.5Ã‚Â° Average Low 67.1Ã‚Â° Labadee can get extremely hot and humid even with a nice breeze. To keep cool and hydrated, it would be best to take a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and at all possible cost water bottles. Labadee Beech is located on the northern coastline of Haiti. It occupies 260 acres of land It is a beach and water sports area. You can relax, or take part in water sports. You can go to the native market and shop. But take CASH. When you get off the ship, walk to the left if you want quiet, the further you go, the quieter it will become. There are some old ruins, it is very picturesque, and you can get great ship shots from there. But the walking surface is uneven. It is named "Labadee, Hispaniola," in reference to the name given to the island by Christopher Columbus, who, thought he was in China when he dropped anchor here in 1492. Although cruise lines call this an Ã¢â‚¬Å“islandÃ¢â‚¬Â, it is really a controlled area owned by RCI This area is extremely secure and protected by steep mountain ridges, a very dense forest and a 20ft barbed wire black fence patrolled by guards. The cruise company pays the Haitian government $6 per passenger and employs about 300 locals, including security guards, beach monitors, waiters, cleaners, as well as some managers. And more locals earn money by selling things, or entertaining. This is the poorest place in the hemisphere, so please keep that in mind when you have someone carry chairs etc. for you. Also the entertainers.. So think about carrying cash to tip them. It has two small coves. One provides a calm shelter from the ocean. It is located in the heart of the Royal Caribbean tourist area, and is the swimming area called Labadee Beech. The beach is made up of white sand, Almond, mango and palm trees, and very few bugs in and out of the water In the other cove is a small town called Labadie. It has no road access or electricity from other main cities and all the supplies are either local, or brought in by boat. Ã¢â‚¬Å“BAD SNORKELING- And Be Careful Buying Wooden Products!Ã¢â‚¬Â Labadee is a small peninsula practically owned and operated by Royal Caribbean. It is safe and has OK beaches and clear blue water. It is a large area you can walk around and spend the day at but has NO OPPORTUNITIES FOR SPONTANEOUS SHORE EXCURSIONS which are not booked exclusively by RC, so beware. Problems- The Haitians have through necessity eaten just about everything, so snorkeling is not too interesting. There was a real hassle bringing back wooden items (masks, canes, trays) through customs. Apparently there is some wood boring beetle they need to check for. Customs officers examined pretty intensely for small holes in the wood and I noticed a big stack of things they had to confiscate due to infestation- BEWARE! The Haitian flea market had predictably annoying and aggressive hawkers- there IS cool stuff to buy but you have to be ruthless and patient when negotiating. DO NOT settle on anything greater than %25 of the initial asking price, act disinterested and always walk away at least once. Play vendors against each other and compare offers at other locations- they are all selling the same product. Good Things- The fire eater/ voodoo/ dancer guy was good and had some local acrobats with a show. The "Labadoozie" drinks peddled onshore by RC for $5.95 were pretty good (with a souvenir cup!) The cookout spread put together by RC was nice. In short, Labadee is a great place if you love to hang out on the beach or relax in one of the many hammocks, but if you want to actually DO something, you must book through RC. The wave runners and zip line seemed to get favorable reviews from the other cruisers. I tried the zip line. I loved it. But think that it is mismanaged. we did a count of people using it, and came to the opinion that if they cut the price in half, they would quadruple (or more) the amount of people that did this. It was way underused. But with a price tag of almost $100 I can see why. The reason there are only RCI tours is because there is the safety issue.... This is the poorest country in the hemisphere. Plus they have an unstable government.. That is why the 220+ acres that RCI "own" are very protected. So therefore.. no tours out of the area by private operators. The open market can get a bit aggressive, but you can bargain.. the other one has set prices, you can still try to get a bargain.. But I suspect it will not be as good as the one in the open market. But if the traders get too much.. go to the enclosed market. I found that I could go to the enclosed market and look for something I was interested in. I would bargain, but if they would not come down I would then go to the other market and look specifically for that item. It is too bad that someone does not explain to them that they would get more business if they were not so aggressive. I went through at the speed of light :lol because if something caught my eye, I would be surrounded with "in your face" sellers. TRANSPORTATION: Passengers are transported ashore in an accessible tender, which features a track lift boarding system. Once ashore visitors can enjoy the beach and surf in a beach wheelchair. RCI currently has nine beach wheelchairs on Labadee. RCI has made Labadee very accessible to passengers with disabilities. There are two trams that make continues circuit of the area. Each of the trams is able to transport one or two wheelchairs on a ramp platform at the rear of the tram. You can board it at the base of the concrete pier and get off at most of the facilities They have also built a hard surfaced path, which allows wheelchair access to selected areas of the island. The walk along the trail can be very nice, filled with beautiful shells and rocks, and flowers. NOTE: RCI has done a lot of things to make their ships accessible to everyone. They have added hydraulic lifts for pools and Jacuzzis, and casinos with wheelchair-approachable tables and slot machines. For going ashore in a tender, RCI has installed lifts to move guests from the ship to the boat. Royal Caribbean (800-722-5472 ext. 34492 for Access Desk for people with disabilities. Things to do: RCI will provide a BBQ lunch. B Beach chairs are free, but the men carrying them will expect a tip. Although in that days newspaper RCI will ask you NOT to pay. Lay in a hammock Walk out to Dragon's Breath Point where a sound like a "dragon breathing" comes from the rocks, caused by the wave action. The point actually does look like a dragons head Watch the African-style dancing, drumming and singing at the folkloric show Hopefully they will not do two shows within feet of each other as they did when we were there :grin The dueling music was a bit much, and too bad that you were not able to enjoy either. SHORE EXCURSIONS The cruise ships offer a variety of shore excursions that require advance reservations. The most popular tours fill up fast, so book them early. Many cruise lines have shore excursion information available on their websites and allow reservations before you leave home. Check to make sure that the times and prices are current. Floating Beach Mat ($10 Adult, $10 Child) Price includes use of a floating beach mat for the entire day. Kayak Adventure ($38 Adult, $32 Child, 90 minutes) Row along the coastline through coral reefs, and past fishing villages that have not changed in decades. Enjoy a guided tour along Labadee's coast in a two-person ocean kayak. Para-sailing ($79 Adult, $79 Child, 1 Hour) Fly 400 feet in the air and get wonderful views of Labadee. Do the zip line: On a 3,000-ft. long zip line about 600 feet up and over the water at Dragons Tail beach. If you are planning to do this.. keep in mind that if the weather turns bad, they will close it. You can take the walk up to the Dragon's Breath. Snorkeling ($15 Adult, $10 Child) Castaway, Malfini Beach: . A twenty-minute boat ride takes you to a privately owned beach with pristine white sands, hidden in a remote cove surrounded by lush tropical vegetation. Your tour guide will give you a short glimpse into Haiti's history and culture and answer all the questions you might have about this port of call. After being greeted with a complimentary Malfini Punch, take your floating mat and snorkeling mask to explore the stunning coral formations just off the beach. Visit the unique Canoe Bar and have our bartender fix you a special drink. Very limited space sign up early! I think it costs $60 If you do not wish to pay for this, there are plenty of beaches at Labadee where you can sun and swim without paying. Columbus Cove Aqua Park Enjoy various water activities. Admission fee is $15 Adult and $10 Child. Children 12 and under are Free. I think this is for 50 min of fun. You can bounce on water trampolines or slide and climb on inflatable slides that are shaped like icebergs. Jet ski rental Wave runner: ($99 Adult, $99 Child, 1 Hour) Rent one and ride up and down the coast. Take part in volleyball tournaments. And sliding on the "world's largest" inflatable water slide Luc's Splash Bash. Luc's Splash Bash is the island's dedicated area for kids and offers ground geysers, water cannons and a treasure map trail. Where you can become a pirate for a day. You can get drenched by ground geysers and water archways, battle other buccaneers with water cannons on the pirate ship, and you can explore the treasure map trail. Shopping: There are two shopping places....a building called the Artisan's Market and an open straw market. The ArtisanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s market has specialty stores where you can buy goods ranging from hand made pottery, statues, Jewelry, Barbancourt rum, artwork, Paper MÃƒÂ¢chÃƒÂ©, sarongs, hand decorated dresses, exotic fabrics, tapestries, and many other goods. The stores in this building have the prices marked on everything and are not pushy. They accept traveler's checks and credit cards. In the straw market you will encounter more aggressive people. Remember that you should barter, and not settle for the first price. You can get many local handmade artwork, woodwork and crafts. But you will need cash. Sip a "Labaduzee" It is Royal Caribbeans signature frozen drink that is out of this world. Places to eat. CafÃƒÂ© Labadee The cruise ship's barbecue is served here. The buffet usually includes hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, beans, coleslaw, salads, punch, ice tea, dessert and musical entertainment. Dragon's Rock CafÃƒÂ© Buffet service available. Hispaniola/Haitian Market This is the place for bargain hunters that enjoy haggling with local vendors. Fine carved statues, tableware, a colorful variety of small and large original oil paintings and various crafts are available. Cash only. Nellie's Place Serves various tropical drinks.