Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Is This Haiti?

Our third and final excursion of the cruise was to Royal Caribbean's private beach paradise in Labadee, Haiti. It was our first time going to Haiti. Before we went, and even while we were there, I thought Labadee was Royal Caribbean's private island off the coast of Haiti, like Disney's Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. I came to find out that we were on the actual island of Haiti. But in my defense, Labadee is so private and closed-off from everything else that you'd never know it! (Until you do actually know it.)

That morning was very rainy, but thankfully it cleared up by mid-morning so that everyone who wanted to could go out and enjoy the beach. I think this was the rainiest weather we've ever encountered on a cruise.

Lots of water on the balcony!

The pool deck was deserted for once!

I saw two tiny fishing boats out in the rain. They were so small, especially from my view 17 decks up, and also in comparison to our colossal ship! I took the picture below with my camera zoomed in as far as it would go. If you look closely enough, you can see the rain streaming through the air.

All I could think of was Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. And also that they must have been soaked! 

There I go again!

The first thing we did after we got off the ship was to ride this fun "Dragon Coaster." I'm glad we went early because the line got pretty long for it later. We'd never been on a coaster like this before!

And then we finally made it to the beach! There were actually several beaches. We had reserved one of these beach beds. Aren't they dreamy?

Unfortunately they were also very wet because of the rain. It didn't stop Peter from stretching out on it, but it was too wet for me to enjoy. I would have loved stretching out and relaxing on this on a nice warm, dry day though.

This has been my Facebook cover photo for the last several months. I think the boys look so cute, and the background is beautiful!  

Sam had fun floating around. The water wasn't super-warm yet so it was better to stay on top of it!

After we ate (a rather subpar) lunch we went over to another beach where the kids were signed up to do a big inflatable "playground" in the water.

They didn't have as much fun on the inflatables as we'd thought they would. A lot of them were hard for kids to climb on to, especially for Sam, and it took a lot of energy to swim around to them all and then get onto them. Plus Sam's life jacket didn't fit properly so he was uncomfortable the whole time. I think this would have been better when they were older, or Royal Caribbean should do more kid-sized ones.

That's John at the top of the rock wall and Sam climbing up the hill right near him.

The scenery was gorgeous!

Walking back to the ship. Check out those low-hanging clouds! I love cloudy days, as long as they don't produce rain until I'm safely inside!

Here's Sam with his new Haiti sword. 

A word about the Haitian vendors in Labadee. They were so pushy! I didn't like it at all. I became one of their innocent victims due to my kind and friendly nature, and now I know if I ever go back to just walk right by them, which I did by the time we left. It's a shame because I'd love to wander around and look at the various handmade things they're selling, but they're too aggressive about trying to get you to buy their stuff that it makes shopping hard and uncomfortable. They'd get more business if they'd take a chill pill and let people shop in peace. I guess it's a cultural thing, but it's something they should understand about Americans if they want to be successful. I suggested this to Royal Caribbean on our survey of the cruise. Each vendor has to have a special permit from RC to sell their wares in Labadee, so RC should know that their selling practices aren't enjoyable for their customers and maybe help the vendors out by giving them feedback like this. 

At the same time, these people are very poor and I have empathy for them--they're just trying to make a living, after all. The standard of living between them and most cruise-goers is vast, so I see my purchases as charitable contributions to them in large part, and I feel good about that. But I think they'd get a lot more of those contributions if they'd back off a little (or a lot!) more.

But overall Labadee was nice and we had a good time. The beaches and scenery were beautiful and there were fun things to do. I certainly wouldn't mind going back again!