Haiti awoke to aftershocks Wednesday morning, as a 5.9-magnitude tremor shook the battered nation at approximately 6 a.m. Nearby Grand Cayman also rumbled this morning, thanks to a separate 5.8-magnitude quake some 30 miles offshore. The effects of that earthquake were reportedly felt in Jamaica, Cuba, and even Miami.
Scientists fear that the initial quake in Haiti was so substantial that it may take weeks for the region to settle in, meaning more strong aftershocks are possible, if not likely.
With all this geological activity and human tragedy, it’s fair to wonder if it’s a good idea to visit the region. Quite frankly, the answer is murky at best.
For the time being, travel to the area has not been significantly disrupted, save for flights into and out of Haiti. In fact, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity continue calling at Royal Caribbean’s private beach in Labadee, Haiti, a move that has caused quite a bit of controversy. Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein defended the decision, saying, “My view is this—it isn’t better to replace a visit to Labadee (or for that matter, to stay on the ship while it’s docked in Labadee) with a visit to another destination for a vacation. Why? 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.” The cruise lines are also delivering water and other supplies.
Still, the notion of tourists relaxing on a private beach in Haiti while the nation starves is, to some, unpalatable at best.
As for more earthquakes, no one really knows what to expect. Hispaniola is clearly not yet out of the woods, but that seems to be as much as anyone knows (or is willing to say). People concerned about their travel plans for the central Caribbean region should contact their providers. At this time I’ve seen no change-fee waivers or other accommodations offered for destinations other than Haiti.
Folks, what do you think? Should cruise ships continue calling in Haiti? Would you be comfortable heading off to Jamaica for a week’s vacation next week? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.