Cruise ship company Royal Caribbean has already returned to Haiti, where its ships dock at a private beach 60 miles north of earthquake ravaged Port-au-Prince. Some are questioning whether the company should have returned so soon.
The fact that the ships are also bringing humanitarian aide, that the company has donated $1 million to relief and that they consulted with the U.N. Special Envoy of the Government of Haiti before deciding to return, has certainly helped the company’s case.
Royal Caribbean Associate Vice President John Weis said the cruise ships should be there because, “being on the island and generating economic activity for the straw market vendors, the hair-braiders and our 230 employees helps with relief while being somewhere else does not help. These 500 people are going to need to support a much larger network of family and friends, including many who are in (or are missing in) the earthquake zone.”
That still that hasn’t stopped headlines like this one from the New York Post: “Ship of ghouls: Cruisers frolic 60 miles from rotting bodies.”
Regardless of the company’s efforts, and the fact that at least one local resident told a reporter that the ships returning is not disrespectful, Royal Caribbean will still face media challenges.
Andy Morris, Co-Founder and Partner/Principal of agency Morris + King told PRNewser he and his agency partner Judith King think the company made the right move. “Anything that can help to restore the devastated island and economy is beneficial,” he said. “The situation is analogous to when – only a day or so after 9/11 – Rudy Giuliani called on New Yorkers and tourists to shop and thereby help rebuild the city. The cruise line has also very appropriately committed $1 million in aid to the country.”