Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker comments on the pathetic failure of Royal Caribbean to help Haiti

Royal Caribbean’s Haitian response called “A Sick Joke”

Our article Royal Caribbean passengers frolic in Haiti as the screams from the rubble continue touched a few raw nerves, but BFP isn’t the only blog questioning the cruise industry’s failure to respond with their full might to the mass deaths still happening in Haiti. As a matter of interest, a Google search reveals dozens if not over a hundred critical articles out there so far.

Maritime lawyer Jim Walker runs Cruise Law News blog out of his Miami law office where he specializes in representing crew members and passengers who have been injured, assaulted or otherwise had a bad experience with the cruise line industry.

Mr. Walker is naturally much more knowledgeable about the cruise industry than we are, and even if he is normally on the opposite side of the industry, when you read his articles, you’ll pay attention. Here are some samples from his article Royal Caribbean “Returns” to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® – While Haiti Suffers.

The photos are supplied by Royal Caribbean through Mr. Walker. Royal Caribbean probably intended that the photos would be evidence of their worthy response, but we at Barbados Free Press find them totally pathetic…

“In the last few days, Royal Caribbean has made a big deal talking about offloading pallets of food for Haiti. Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas sailed with only 60 cases of food and water  last Friday according to the Royal Caribbean President’s “Nation of Why Not?” blog. That’s just four pallets. The blog has some photographs of the few pallets from the Independence of the Seas – four pallets of flour, tomato sauce, can goods, and water bottles. Four pallets? 

Considering that on a typical seven-day cruise Labadee – Haiti – Royal Caribbean “Private Destination”the cruise ship’s passengers consume over 100,000 pounds of food and 12,000 gallons of alcohol over the course of over a hundred thousand meals- the photograph of the meager provisions sitting on the dock dwarfed by the huge Independence of the Seas seems like a sick joke.”

“Now a million dollars is a lot of money to me and probably anyone reading this article, but it is peanuts for a cruise line like Royal Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean collects around $6,000,000,000 (billion) a year.  And because it registered its business in Liberia and its cruise ships fly the foreign flags of Liberia or the Bahamas, it pays $0 in federal Income taxes. $0.

Why only a million dollars?  That will accomplish little. Even Royal Caribbean’s competitor Carnival promised to send $5 million to Haiti, and it has no relationship with Haiti.  The $6 a passenger deal which Royal Caribbean struck with the leaders of Haiti rips the Haitian people off.  $6 to go into a 260 acre private paradise?  Well established ports in Alaska collect $50 a passenger in head taxes just to step off of the cruise ship.”

Royal Caribbean tosses a few coins to the native swimmers.

“The executives at Royal Caribbean know how to make a hard bargain with Caribbean islands which have little economic bargaining power. CEO Richard Fain cut a deal where for only $6 a passenger (paid by the passenger), Haiti turned over a 260 acre tropical waterfront paradise of Haitian sovereign land for Royal Caribbean to consider it “private property” bearing the trademarked name “Labadee®.” Yes, that’s right.  This is a name that Royal Caribbean trademarked as a variation of the French slave owner Marquis de La’Badie who settled in Haiti in the 1600’s.

Many years ago an article revealed the hypocrisy of this whole endeavor.  Entitled “Fantasy Island:  Royal Carribean Parcels Off a Piece of Haiti,” the article explained that Royal Caribbean began docking in Haiti in January 1986 after the ruthless dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier leased the land to Royal Caribbean.  He thereafter fled to France and the country turned into chaos for the next decade.”

… read the entire article at Jim Walker’s Cruise Law News: Royal Caribbean “Returns” to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® – While Haiti Suffers.


Filed under Barbados, Building Collapse, Disaster, Haiti

18 responses to “Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker comments on the pathetic failure of Royal Caribbean to help Haiti

  1. Sue Thompson

    Thanks for posting this article on Labadee – very informative & I will pass along.

    As George W. Bush said about 9/11, “Through my tears I see opportunity.” It turns out that now, according to the Heritage Foundation, similar opportunities are available after the catastrophic Haitian earthquake.

    Things to Remember While Helping Haiti

    The old colonial powers face off again

    France criticizes US ‘occupation’ of Haiti

  2. Observer

    I have found for the most part that the cruise liners have had a parasitic relationship with the Caribbean. It is all about them. With an underpinning philosophy that states “the less we have to give the better” and in the interim they have played these individual countries off against each other. This should act as a wake up call to the region who should insist on getting their fair pound of flesh from these cruise companies.

  3. I don’t know whether to puke, cry or start a petition – but what about the competitors? Carnival, Celebrity etc. What are THEY doing?


    I don’t know whether to puke, cry or start a petition – but the African countries … What are THEY doing?

    Tell me I missed the news. Thanks for that.

  5. small money

    Carnival giving 5 million. 4 million more than royal.

  6. Senegal offered to harbour Haitians until they get back on their feet, South Africa’s Navy was first to arrive with supplies – for those who are curious what Africans have done.

  7. Adrian Loveridge

    For the third quarter ended 31st August 2009, Carnival Corporation declared a profit of US$1.1 BILLION on revenue of US$4.1 Billion.
    This compares with a profit of US$1.65 BILLION on revenue of US$4.85 Billion for the third quarter in 2008.

    Somehow, US$5 million doesn’t seem like a huge amount of money when you think that around 40% of that revenue and profit is generated in the Caribbean.

  8. oh come on

    i wonder how much out of his anual income did jim walker and others donated?

  9. That’s a fair question…. ask him, better yet – I will!

    Dear Mr Walker;

    Sorry to bother you but a comment on the Barbados Free Press begged the question – what have you contributed to Haiti? This thread is why I was inspired to ask;-

    IAN BOURNE – The Bajan Reporter
    Cell: (246) 266-1866


    Information in this e-mail is confidential and can be legally privileged. It’s intended solely for the addressee.

    If you have received this message by accident, please notify us immediately and destroy or delete the message from
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  10. BFP, me stuck again!


    BFP george say I UNSTUCK YOU AGAIN. !! 🙂

  11. ANSWER= “Mr Bourne. Thanks for your email. So far we sent $25,000 to the Red Cross for Haiti. Admittedly not much. But our firm consists of 2 lawyers. We tithe one tenth of our income to charity.

    Around $7000 was matched by another law firm in the U.S.

    My public criticism of the cruise line is that they collect $6 billion tax free and have pledged but not sent only $1 million which is a small fraction far less than 1 per cent

    This is a tax free Liberian corporation with 40000 employees

    Thank you again for your interest.

    Jim Walker
    Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Device

  12. @oh come on: There’s your answer…

  13. oh come on

    but mr bourne what if i said someting like “that is all?” or “why not send 50,000 or 75000” wouldnt i sound ungrateful? what if in my opinion mr walker isnt donating enough?

    i hope my point is being seen.

  14. I find it disturbing that the CEO’s blog entitled nationofwhynot (how fitting a title) states that “there is no way for a person or a company to imagine the vastness of the tragedy or needs of the Haitian people”. I think that if RCCL’s CEO watched CNN for about 15 minutes, he’d get the complete picture of the “various perspectives” on the situation.

    Goldstein posted the “sitrep” his company issues on January 20th. The sitrep is a report which is under the aegis of Gary Bald, Senior V.P. of Safety and Security.

    In the first section entitled “Country Update”, Number Four states:


    Under the Labadee section of the same report it states:

    1- Cap Haiten is seeing an increased number of people coming into town from PAP and surrounding area.

    2- Security remains strong and no issues have been reported.

    3- US Marines in Cap Haiten securing sea port and airport.

    4- ALL features are operational for LB (Labadee) Call today.

    It goes w/o saying (but, I will) that the first line of text states there’s a WARNING for U.S. citizens to not travel to Haiti. How many U.S. citizens are on board RCCL ships and WHY is RCCL depositing pax in a region with such a warning?

    Labadee will become a refugee camp shortly as more and more Haitians head for the beach. What will they see besides sunning tourists eating and drinking? They’ll be met by U.S. Marines and/or armed guards (paid for by whom) and then what?

    Goldstein’s blog “NationofWhyNot”, is a fitting title as the blog basically sends the message of “with all of the problems faced by Haiti, Why Not keep going to Haiti? The words “Why Not” Mr. CEO, are usually followed by “Who Cares? Maybe you should re-think your public relations starting with the title of your blog.

  15. @ oh come on: how much have you done? I cannot do much either (‘Alff’ wanted barrels and I had one in may laundry room collecting dust), and certainly not like at Clifton on Sun 17 Jan but what have YOU done “oh come on“?

  16. Is it NOT odd that RCCL lends the Haitian government $55M to build the dock that RCCL NEEDED to dock its Genesis Class Vessels (30′ drafts) and then TAKES BACK the loan out of the $6 PAX port fee to repay the loan?

    Who in the world came up with this deal? Let’s see, RCCL finds this little stretch of beach and has a coffee chat with Baby Doc and gets a 50 year land lease plus, gets a loan on its books for $55M+ plus, pay back on the loan via a HUGE DISCOUNT on port pax fees and gets the land for 50 years!

    While I’m not suprised that Aronson is on the board for RCCL, I find it interesting that Baby Doc did NOT get a position as well considering the SWEETHEART deal RCCL cut for itself.

  17. Pingback: Anti-Obama Tea Party cruise conceals Haiti destination as “Hispaniola” « Barbados Free Press