Haiti Relief: Cruise Industry Response Update

January 18, 2010

How is the cruise industry responding to this week's crippling earthquake in Haiti? Humanitarian aid is coming in many forms, from many sources. Cruise lines are getting involved -- but so are major cities that serve as ports of embarkation for Caribbean cruises, which offer opportunities for residents and travelers who want to drop off donations before their sailings. We've detailed below just a few of the efforts underway, and will continue to update this list.

If you are aware of something we're not, tell us! E-mail melissa@cruisecritic.com (put Haiti relief in the subject line).

Cruise Lines

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. At the forefront of the cruise industry's Haiti relief effort is Royal Caribbean International, the parent company of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, which has made a huge investment of time and money in its private cruise destination Labadee, on the north coast of the island nation.

The key component of the relief effort? Royal Caribbean ships will call on Labadee as scheduled, bringing guests -- and aid -- with them. (The port, about 100 miles from capital city Port-au-Prince, was not damaged in the quake.) Each will bring ashore relief supplies, such as rice, dried beans, water, dried milk and other canned foodstuffs, which will be distributed through charity Food for the Poor. The line also donated 100 percent of the net proceeds from its first day back to Haitian relief.

Royal Caribbean has committed to providing $1 million in humanitarian relief to Haiti, a portion of which will augment the company's Crew Relief Fund, which can be drawn on by any of the company's more than 200 Haitian crewmembers. Passengers onboard can make a donation to Food for the Poor's Haiti Relief Fund, via a charge to their onboard account; others can visit the organization's
Web site to make a donation.

Norwegian Cruise Line. A two-fold relief effort is underway and consists of monetary donations to the Red Cross with a dollar-for-dollar company match and a supply drive. Guests and crew can make a donation to the Red Cross either via their onboard account or by placing checks or cash into a designated drop box at reception fleetwide. Also, NCL's Miami office is collecting needed supplies and working with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) -- a non-profit organization representing 15 cruise lines that sail in Floridian, Caribbean and Latin American waters -- to have these delivered to Haiti.

Disney Cruise Line. A spokesperson for Disney Cruise Line tells us that The Walt Disney Company will donate $100,000 to the Red Cross International Fund to support Haiti's relief efforts.

Carnival Corporation. Carnival Corp. -- whose portfolio includes Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, P&O Cruises, P&O Cruises Australia, Cunard, Ocean Village, AIDA, Costa and Iberocruceros -- today announced that it will donate $5 million toward Haiti relief via multiple international organizations.

At this point, other cruise lines are still formulating plans. According to a statement issued by Cruise Lines International Association, which represents 25 cruise lines serving North America, "The cruise line industry is eager to help the people of Haiti. The Cruise Lines International Association and its member cruise lines, working closely with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, are currently exploring how they can most effectively assist in response to the Haitian earthquake disaster."

Cruise Ports

Galveston. Cruise Critic member Host Mach alerted us to a program organized by Galveston.com & Company, through which local residents are being encouraged to donate shoes or flip-flops. Wrap a rubber band around the pair to keep them together (write upon them a message of hope if you wish), and drop them off at Galveston.com & Company's office at 523 24th Street, Galveston, Texas 77550. It's a particularly touching outreach from a city that, just more than a year ago, dealt with its own natural disaster -- Hurricane Ike. Visit Galveston.com for more info.

Miami. The City of Miami -- a major turnaround port for the Florida cruise market -- has set up temporary drop-off locations at all City of Miami Fire Department and City of Miami Net Offices to collect donations during the next week for the relief effort in Haiti. They are accepting all nonperishable food, water, medical supplies and medications that do not have expiration dates. If you are sailing from Miami and would like to make a donation before your cruise, call 305-960-4660 for more information. Two additional sites will be functioning at: 7220 N. Miami Ave., 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. weekdays and 6301 NE Second Ave., 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. weekdays.

Fort Lauderdale. If you are sailing from Fort Lauderdale, know that Broward public high schools, area offices and the main administration building will be collection sites for food, supplies and other donations for Haiti. Items collected will be distributed to Food for the Poor, Hope for Haiti and World Vision. Especially needed are first-aid kits; bottled water; flashlights; batteries; canned meat and fish; condensed, evaporated and nonperishable milk; hand sanitizers; diapers and blankets.

Port Canaveral. Port Canaveral is accepting donations; suggested items include water, dry food products (such as beans and rice), cooking oil, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and soap. The effort is being coordinated by the Canaveral Port Authority in partnership with Royal Caribbean, Port Canaveral tenants Ambassador Services Inc. and American Cruise Aid Logistics. Some 30 pallets will be shipped aboard Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas when it sails from Port Canaveral on January 24. Drop-off location: Canaveral Port Authority Headquarters, Maritime Center 445 Challenger Road, south side of the Port. Donations accepted: 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., Saturday, January 16, through Thursday, January 21, 2010. Items should be placed in cardboard boxes for easier storage and shipping.

Here at Cruise Critic

Cruise Critic is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, an operating company of Expedia, Inc. Expedia, Inc. is making a $100,000 contribution to the Haiti disaster relief efforts via the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund to help with immediate needs. In addition, for every $1 contributed by Expedia, Inc. employees to select charities, the company will match with a $2 donation to the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund, up to $100,000.

Want to make a monetary contribution? Check out our list of worthy charities.

--by Melissa Paloti, Managing Editor, with additional research by Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Web Content Producer