I had read about the unrest in the papers and on this board. I immediately called my agent who in turn called Royal Caribbean. They had said at this point they would still be stopping at Labadee but if things got worse they would replace that stop with another. That is what she had told me.
I am not really familiar with the situation, but my basic understanding of it is that they want to get the President out of office. There are protesters who think he is corrupt and violence is occurring between the protesters and the other side.
We were curious about this issue as well since we will (hopefully) be stopping there on our cruise in April.
You pretty much summed it up. The Christian Scienc Monitor had a summary article on line today. The current leader, Aristide, was I guess elected in a questionable election in 2001 I think it was, meanwhile, much of the aid they had been receiveing from other countries, including the US, has been curtailed..(not sure why) plunging the country into even deeper poverty
. The rebels want Aristide to step down and they will stop but he refuses. Most of the fighting has been in towns that are some 45-60 miles from the town of Port-a-prince (which I think is near to wear Labadee is) so it is still some distance away, plus the last time I was there the dividing line was a huge stone wall with guards.
It is odd though, I have been trying to follow the unrest articles and details and the REAL reasons seem to be missing from reports. Its all very sketchy.
The closest town to Labadee is Cap Haitien, Labadee is just west of it. They say about 20 miles, but the map I have the scale shows it a lot closer than that. Last report I read, (yesterday) had fighting in Cap Haitien. There was some mention of road blocks that are keeping fuel fand food from getting to the town.
Here is a quote from one news story:
"There were also reprisal attacks in Haiti's second city, the northern port of Cap-Haitien, where Aristide supporters were manning barricades to block any rebel incursion. The house of a reporter for opposition Radio Maxima was burned overnight, witnesses said."
I just read on another board that RCCL has cancelled stops at Labadee, (even though it is perfectly safe and far removed from the troubles, to paraphrase). There was no mention of what, if any, alternative port of call was being used instead.
I just read on RCCL's web site that they have cancelled Labadee. There was no mention of replacing it with another stop. If anyone knows anything please let me know and where you got the information. I understand why they are doing it ,but I am very disappointed as my cruise is 2/21 on the NOS.
We were in Labadee Feb. 5 2004, on the Navigator. Nothing was mentioned to the passengers of any danger, or the possibility of going to another port. I did see on the news in our cabin, of the fighting that was going on. I talked to other passengers of this. No one seemed to even be aware of the disruption going on. It would be a shame if cruises decide to avoid this port, as it is a beautiful spot to snorkel and relax. The one thing I can say about the local sellers is, they are extremely pushy. I have been to Jamaica, and I would have to say they are worse in Labadee. They are almost desperate to sell you anything. You don't have to go into the shop areas if you don't want to. Most people that did buy from them were very happy with their purchases. They were getting things nearly half off from what they were selling in other stops. And I would have to say that much of the wood items were really unique and beautiful. I hope this helps and enjoy your cruise.. WE DID!!!
What I've read on the wed is that for the next 6 sailings they wont be going to Labadee.
There doesn't seem to be an alternate port at this time. It went on to say it will be reviewed in a couple of weeks at which time they will decide to continue the alert or start returning to Labadee .Hope this helps
IT IS AMAZING...how little we know about the history of Haiti. After it was discoverd by Columbus...the island was named Hispaniola. All the Arawak indians were slaughtered after they destroyed a Spanish settlement near Cap Haitien. The island was settled in the eastern half while the west was left unsettled. In 1697 the Spanish ceded the western 1/3 of the island to the French. Within a few short years the French had succeeded in making Haiti the tropical produce center for France. It was one giant plantation run by French planters. The cost of a slave in the early 1700s was around $17 and the life expectancy was 5 years. Haiti was run like a prison/concentration camp. By the end of the 1700s there were more than 450,000 slaves. 25.000 free mulattoes and 30,000 planters. The culture had evolved into 3 classes.
According to some sources there were more than 800 Haitian participants in the American Revolution under Lafayette. It is speculated that some of these trained soldiers made their way back to Haiti and helped to foment a slave revolt. (I am still trying to track information on this fact but clues lean toward some connection to this story.) The Haitian slaves developed their own froms of communications to bridge the plantations and communicate in such a way as to not be understood by their French masters...without raising their suspicions. This patois of different languages of African tribes, Spanish and French became Creole. It was not put into written form until after 1957.
There was a massive slave revolt in 1791. Toussaint Louverture led a band of slaves to overthrow the 1st. plantation and then went on to successively overthrow the rest of the plantations...about 20 in all. Louverture was a brilliant man and antagonist of the French. Napolean sent more than 19,000 French troops to quell the rebellion and they were defeated and slaughtered by the newly freed slaves. It is also important to note that Louverture had a 2nd. in command who was a free white man. Louverture wanted desperately to unite in a treaty with the fledgling United States...this did not come to pass as Louverture was captured by the French in 1802 and died in a French prison near Switzerland some years later. (This seems to be the sad direction that Haiti has always taken...close to democracy but never quite there.)
Haiti was declared an independent nation in 1804...It was the first freed slave state in the world. Jean Jacques Dessalines declared the country a free state and again tried to make treaties with the USA...only to be assassinated in 1806. Haiti had a sad succession of rulers...this was known as the successsion of the generals. Haiti was continually in revolution and bloodshed. The French and the Germans would continually pillage and rob the country for agricultural goods. European ships would routinely sail into Porto Prince and aim their cannons at the wharehouses until the political leadership would fork over the required amount of extortion before they were allowed totransport to market.
The USA intervened in 1915 out of fears of toatal collapse promulgated by the Germans. The US occupation from 1915-1934 was anything but peaceful...US Marine casualties were in the hundreds but some form of republic was finally instituted. The depression took its toll on Haiti and led to more political unrest and upheaval. 1957 brought in the country doctor, "Papa Doc" Duvalier, who went from being a modest and caring man to a totally despotic dictator who killed thousands of innocent people while appointing himself "President for life". His TonTon Macoutes were a murderous bunch of armed sycophants very similar to the Gestapo and SS of Nazi Germany. Papa Doc passed on in 1971? only after naming his son, Baby Doc, as his successor. Military coups followed and finally free elections in 1989?
The man of the hour who was elected was Father Jean Bertrand Aristide, a humble and caring parish priest who was liked by a great majority of Haitians. Aristide became a (you guessed it...must be something in the water in Haiti.) a despotic dictator who has hastened yet another page of bloody history onto the field that is Haiti. Aristide is a murderous dictator who has armed another league of assassins known as "Attache`s".
His favorite form of retribution (and this is a direct quote) is the "Porto Prince Necktie". this happens when an opponent of Aristide's is lined up and shot in the head and then placed in the road with a burning tire around his neck...just a little subtle message for the rest of the Haitian folks. Father Aristide is now a fire breathing communist who was supported by the Clinton administration and will probably luck out with some form of support from the current Bush administration as well...at least according to Colin Powell. Aristide's government mis-spent billions of US aid dollars in the 1980s. there was supposed to be a new road from the airport and a power generator system for Porto Prince. The road was never completed and the power system was done with Canadian parts and has never worked properly since the alleged completion.
As far as I can see; life in Haiti has been like living in Auschwitz for the past 400 years. Yet you can meet some of the sweetest Haitian people who remain kind, considerste and interested in good government and fair play...Amazing, simply amazing.
Agreed that life has been rough for most Haitians. It would be a great benefit for them if they could get their political "house in order". Their civil unrest over the years has discouraged a tourist industry from developing. It would be a great destination if there was political stability. Such a beautiful island, and Labadee is such a beautiful place.
P.S. Just a spelling correction, Port-au-Prince is the capital of Haiti.