Feed on

Thanksgiving in Haiti.

It’s becoming something of a tradition for us to spend Thanksgiving in some far flung locale, usually the Caribbean. With Libby’s school schedule and the vacation day savings for me, it’s a very efficient way to add a few more countries. Thus, we found ourselves in Labadee, Haiti this Thanksgiving.

For those that don’t know, Labadee is Royal Caribbean’s private beach destination, which is located on a peninsula on the northern coast of Haiti. The fact that it’s based in Haiti isn’t generally a “selling point” of RCI. Indeed, I suspect that a good number of passengers don’t even realize they’re in Haiti. Following the massive earthquake that rocked the country, RCI took some heat for continuing to visit Labadee immediately on the heals of the disaster. In truth, RCI’s continued presence brought some needed supplies, helped to bolster at least the local economy, and didn’t disrupt aid operations in any way. So, while it might seem unpalatable to eat burgers and bask in the sun while bodies rot under rubble a hundred miles away, it’s really just a more intense version of a daily reality: cruise ships regularly bring relatively privileged, wealthy people to places that either supply meagerly paid ship workers and/or have populations that live in varying degrees of poverty and misery. On balance, this is probably neither an entirely good or bad thing. But, on this Thanksgiving Day, I do think it’s important to remember those less fortunate and to take account of our own blessings.

As a beach destination, Labadee is actually very nice. The weather and water were perfect — not too hot, not too cold. Likewise, the scenery was beautiful with a mountainous backdrop, sheltered cove, and blue-green waters. This was Emerson’s first trip to the beach (ironic as we live in Florida, I know). She played in the sand with a bucket and shovel, and I took her into the water to collect rocks and seashells. Meanwhile, Mom took pictures (surprising? I think not), and Pop sat in a lounge chair under a palm tree (good for him at 87!). The facilities/infrastructure at Labadee are also wonderful. In general, I’m suspect of both beach days and private cruise ship destinations, but I really couldn’t help having a good time. This was just an excellent day!

Dinner–our second and final formal night–was in the main dining room. Service was much better this evening, and the Thanksgiving spread was both traditional and credible. Unfortunately, the ship made minimal effort to decorate for the holiday, unlike our prior Thanksgiving aboard Navigator in 2008. Once again this underscores my feeling that the service quality aboard Navigator is sort of middling at best.

Vintages, the ship’s wine bar, was running an excellent deal on a Barbera d’ Asti at $22 per bottle. I bought one for the family’s Thanksgiving dinner. And, I might do it again tomorrow night. :-)

Today’s box score: +1 country

This brings our total to 54, having tacked on 20 in 2011!

Leave a Reply