Travel Weekly has a great article and QA session with Adam Goldstein, the CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCI).
Below is the conversation that took place between Travelweekly and Adam Goldstein. This quote from Adam shows their strong dedication to aiding a country in a great amount of need – “We feel very strongly as a company that the best thing we can do for our relationship with the Haitian people post-earthquake is to bring the ships and supplies and the economic benefit that a ship call represents to the north coast”
Q: The majority of comments on TravelWeekly.com support your going to Labadee, but how do you respond to those who say it’s wrong to bring vacationers there?
A: This is such an acute situation that we fully recognize there will be a diversity of opinion on what is the right thing to do. We feel very strongly as a company that the best thing we can do for our relationship with the Haitian people post-earthquake is to bring the ships and supplies and the economic benefit that a ship call represents to the north coast. Not only for the 500 or so people who work on the site and the vendors, but we know it is an economic engine for a much larger circle of people who cut into the affected area.
Our feeling about the ships being in Haiti is that at least this way, a vacation activity can contribute to the relief effort and the recovery. Whereas a vacation experience elsewhere cannot.
Q: What do those critics not understand about your being there?
A: When we are able to talk to people about why we are there and what we are doing, there is an understanding and a receptiveness. The [critics] are primarily people we’ve not been able to have a conversation with about what we’re doing. Their focus is entirely on the incongruity of the experience. But our goal continues to be to educate everyone that we can that our activity is very beneficial to the Haitian people; that it is the outgrowth of a 30-year relationship; that the government wants us to be there; that we are landing a significant amount of relief supplies.
Q: What would happen if you didn’t go to Labadee? What message would that send to Haiti and to your employees?
A: It would send a terrible message to Haiti, and we would be more than equally criticized for not going there than we are for going there. We respect that fact that there will be a … strong diversity of strong opinion. Anything that we choose to do, some percentage of people will endorse that and some percentage of people will oppose that. If the Haitian government said, “We don’t think your ships should be there, it’s not the right thing to do,” we would not be there right now. But the opposite is the case.
Q: What has been the reaction of the passengers on the ships to going to Haiti?
A: Anecdotally, they are doing more activities on Labadee knowing that we are contributing those revenues to the relief efforts, but we have no hard data yet.
When the captain of the Independence of the Seas announced that it was going to make the call, he got a standing ovation on the ship. There is no question that our guests want to go and help the Haitian people. And they are making cash contributions through their folios while onboard.
Q: How would you describe the media reaction overall?
A: There are so many media outlets and commentators that it’s challenging to gauge what the actual picture is in any moment in time. We’ve gotten a lot of favorable publicity for our decision to stay and a lot of negative publicity. We may be the largest foreign direct investor in Haiti, particularly with the plus-$50 million project we just completed there. Anything we do will be controversial on some level. Everybody involved in what we’re doing, from guests onboard, to the people offloading the supplies we bring, thinks this is the right thing to do.