One of the world's largest cruise ships, the 3,634-passenger Independence of the Seas, made a scheduled call on Friday. The 3,114-passenger Navigator of the Seas arrived Monday. A third ship, the 3,634-pasenger Liberty of the Seas, arrives Tuesday.
They're docking at a resort at Labadee, where Royal Caribbean operates a private beach and tourist attractions. The Jan. 12 earthquake didn't damage the resort. Also, cruise lines don't make stops at Port-au-Prince.
Arrival of tourist ships has raised questions as to whether it's unseemly for passengers to be enjoying a resort so near the death and destruction caused by the quake.
"There were a lot of discussions about (going ahead with stops), but in the end, Labadee is critical to Haiti's recovery, and hundreds of people rely on Labadee for their livelihood," Royal Caribbean Associate Vice President John Weis wrote on a company blog.
Weis says Royal Caribbean talked with the U.N. Special Envoy of the Government of Haiti, Leslie Voltaire, before making the decision. Voltaire told the company the revenue Haiti would generate from upcoming cruise calls would be critical to its recovery, he says.
In addition to vacationers, Royal Caribbean is carrying in relief supplies loaded onto the vessels after the disaster to be distributed to affected parts of the country by Food for the Poor and other groups.
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