Going to Haiti on cruise? We have all you need to know about this popular cruise destination so you can be prepared when you visit this beautiful port of call.
If you’re cruising aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship around its namesake sea (the Caribbean!), it is very likely that you will make a stop in Labadee, Haiti, during your voyage.
Serving as a private cruise port for Royal Caribbean, Labadee is a stunningly beautiful beachfront resort with crystal clear waters, a range of water and land activities, and breathtaking views.
Celebrity Cruises, which is owned by Royal Caribbean Group, will also stop at this little paradise.
Here, situated on a peninsula on the northern coast of Haiti, visitors can zip line, kayak, snorkel, or simply lounge on one of the peninsula’s white sandy beaches. The resort also features several shops, restaurants, and bars, making it an all-inclusive destination.
However, with so much to do at the resort (and typically only one day to explore it), cruisers should arrive prepared. In this article we will discuss all the things you need to know before your ship docks on Labadee’s shores.
Related: Best things to do in Labadee, Haiti
History of Labadee, Haiti
Labadee, also known as Labadie, is named after the French explorer Jean-Baptiste Labat, who first sailed the coast in the 17th century. The area has a rich history that dates back to the indigenous Taino people, who lived in the region before the arrival of the Europeans.
In the late 17th century, once the French settled in the region and established several plantations, the area became an important center of coffee and sugar production. Labadee remained under French control until Haiti won its independence in 1804.
After the Haitian Revolution, the area was largely abandoned until the 1980s, when Royal Caribbean Group began to develop it as a private cruise port. Since then, the cruise line has invested into the peninsula, building the lavish resort that sits on its premises today.
There is much more fun to be had, as the company’s current agreement with Haiti extends for another 25+ years: Labadee is leased to Royal Caribbean until 2050.
Arriving at Labadee Cruise Port
Passengers visiting Labadee might be struck by its unique location—situated on a peninsula, Labadee is unlike many other private cruise destinations which are on cruise lines’ own private islands. Regardless of its proximity to the mainland, Labadee is tucked into Haiti’s lush green hills, and feels just as secluded as other privately owned cruise destinations.
One of the advantages of visiting Labadee is its accessibility—even the largest of Royal Caribbean’s fleet can dock at its pier, saving passengers from having to take tenders to reach the shore. Once travelers arrive, paved trails make it easy to navigate the resort by foot or by wheelchair.
There is also a complimentary tram that travels around the private destination, with stops at many of the resort’s hubs of activity. If you’re not quite sure where to start, taking a ride on the tram upon arrival is a great way to survey your options for the day!
Dining & Shopping
Labadee features a range of dining and shopping options for visitors to enjoy, ranging from casual beachside dining to more formal restaurants. All of the food and drink on Labadee is prepared onboard your cruise ship and transported ashore, ensuring consistency and quality.
Lunch is complimentary and served at the Dragon’s Café (located near the pier), Café Labadee (located at Adrenaline Beach), and Columbus Cove Café (located at Columbus Cove). Each venue offers a buffet of barbecue, as well as a selection of fruits and vegetables.
There are five bars located around the resort. Dragon’s Breath pub is near the pier, and the Floating and Schooner Bars are on Adrenaline Beach. Nellie’s Tavern and Columbus Cove Bar are at Nellie’s Beach and Columbus Cove, respectively. Each bar serves a signature cocktails, virgin mocktails, beers, and sodas.
Any drink package benefits you purchased for onboard use will work at Labadee as well. Whether you bought the Deluxe Beverage package for unlimited alcoholic beverages or the Royal Refreshment package for unlimited soda, don’t forget to take advantage of this! Simply hand your SeaPass card to any waiter or bartender and you can receive the same benefits as you did on board.
Bear in mind, however, that the island’s drink selection may be more limited than the ship, and that drinks served in souvenir cups are not included (although you can get a discount!).
Labadee also features many shops selling souvenirs, jewelry, and other items. Visitors browsing the shops to purchase unique items to take home as a memento of their trip would be well advised to explore the Artisan Market. Here, local vendors sell colorful and often homemade wares.
However, beware of pushy peddlers who pester you for a purchase! This is a known practice on Labadee, and it is perfectly fine to decline their offers if you are not interested.
Activities & Excursions
One of the main attractions of Labadee is its range of activities and excursions. Visitors to the port can choose from a variety of land and water-based activities, including zip lining, kayaking, snorkeling, and beach lounging.
When you arrive at the port, you will see the Trading Post at the end of the pier; here, you can book tours, rides, and excursions (if you did not do so in advance).
Zip-lining is one of the most popular activities at Labadee—with over 2,800 feet of line, the resort features what was once the longest zipline over water in the world. The Dragon’s Breath zip-line starts 450 feet atop a hill and takes visitors on a thrilling ride over the water, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding area.
While this is a pricey excursion (coming in around $89), it is Labadee’s “claim to fame,” and, for adrenaline lovers, is well worth the cost. If you like thrills, be sure to also check out Dragon’s Tail roller coaster (this alpine coaster is a bit cheaper at $22 for one rider with a second rider free).
For those who prefer water-based activities, Labadee offers a range of options, including kayaking and snorkeling. Visitors can rent kayaks and explore the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean Sea or take a guided snorkeling tour and see the vibrant marine life that inhabits the area.
There are also nature trails scattered throughout the resort that provide amazing views of the peninsula and surrounding sea.
Cruises are required to stay within the secure fenced-in area of the resort, so there are no excursions that explore the rest of the island. Regardless, Labadee offers some amazing excursion experiences, such as:
- Luxury sailboat cruises that take you out to sea for a short swim and some sightseeing with a small group of 20 or less. The sailboat will take you out to Amiga Island where you can hop in the water for a swim. The excursion will provide floating ‘noodles’ to swim with, but snorkeling gear is not provided. There is no food on the boat, and many cruises return after the island’s buffet has ended, so be sure to eat before you get on board. Additionally, locals might approach the boat to sell souvenirs, so be prepared with cash if you’re interested.
- Sport fishing charters where you can reel in ‘big ones’ with experienced captains. On this excursion, you will take a scenic boat ride atop a 25-foot fishing vessel and learn how to catch a variety of trophy fish (if you get lucky and they bite). Guests prone to sea sickness will want to opt out of this adventure.
- Snorkeling excursions offer visitors to Labadee the chance to explore some of Haiti’s gorgeous coral reefs a bit further away from the peninsula, where there is more wildlife. This is a great option for guests who are not planning on bringing or purchasing their own snorkeling gear, as there is none available to rent on the island. If you do bring or buy your own gear, the best places to snorkel are at Adrenaline or Nellie’s Beach.
- A Haitian village cultural experience takes guests via boat to a separate cove to learn more about the local lifestyle. Upon arrival, you will wade through some water to reach the village, so be sure to pack comfortable water shoes. The cultural experiences include seeing how baskets, peanut butter, and bread are made on the island, as well as listening to local music and seeing traditional dances. If you choose to bring back a memento, be forewarned that souvenirs in the village are typically more expensive than similar items sold at the pier.
Beaches on Labadee
Beach lounging is also a popular activity at Labadee, and visitors can relax on the beautiful white sand beaches that line the peninsula. The resort features four beaches—Adrenaline Beach, Columbus Cove, Nellie’s Beach, and Barefoot Beach—each offering its own character and distinct experience.
For a relaxing beach day this port is a popular spot for cabana rental.
On every beach, you will find complimentary beach chairs and hammocks available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
- Adrenaline Beach is a popular spot for thrill-seekers visiting Labadee. The beach features a range of adrenaline-pumping activities, including a wave jet roller coaster, where visitors can ride over the waves of the Caribbean Sea on a motorized surfboard. The beach also offers a rock climbing wall, zip lining, and a beach volleyball court for visitors to enjoy.
For those looking to cool off, Adrenaline Beach features a swim-up bar that floats just off the shore in the Caribbean. Adrenaline Beach is a great spot for adventure and excitement, and visitors can challenge themselves to try out the many activities available while taking in the beauty and relaxation of the Caribbean Sea.
- Home to the Arawak Water Park, Columbus Cove is the furthest of the beaches from the pier. Named after Christopher Columbus, who is believed to have landed in the area during his explorations of the Caribbean, the cove features crystal-clear waters and pristine white sand, making it a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.
Visitors to the local beach of Columbus Cove can also enjoy a variety of amenities, including loungers, rentable cabanas, and umbrellas. A buffet lunch is served to guests, and there are beachside bars that offer beers and the peninsula’s signature cocktail, the “Labaduzee.” The cove is accessible by foot, tender, or via the resort’s tram system, and visitors can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding hills and the Caribbean Sea.
- One of the quieter options on Labadee, Nellie’s Beach is another great choice within the Haitian resort. This beach offers stunning views of the Caribbean Sea.
Visitors to Nellie’s Beach can enjoy a range of activities, including water sports like kayaking and paddleboarding, as well as lounging on the pristine white sand. The beach also features a floating aqua park, where visitors can jump, slide and bounce on a variety of inflatable structures.
Nellie’s Beach is a great spot for relaxation and adventure, and cruise-goers can take in the natural beauty of the area while enjoying the amenities offered by the resort.
- If you have a Grand Suite or better while on your cruise, Barefoot Beach is available to you. It is highly recommended that you take advantage of this—the quiet beauty of this beach is unmatched on Labadee. The most private of the four beaches, Barefoot Beach offers the option to rent a cabana; however, these rentals do go fast, so it is recommended to book these ahead of your cruise by contacting your cruise concierge.
What to Pack for a Day at Labadee
Before you disembark from the ship, you’ll want to be sure you have all the things you need for the day to save any inconvenient treks back to the boat. As you pack your bag, be sure to remember:
- Cash for tips and souvenirs: Chairs are complimentary on all of Labadee’s beaches, but there are locals who will help you set them up, and it is customary to tip them for this help. Additionally, local vendors selling Haitian souvenirs only accept cash, so if you plan to bring back some goodies, don’t forget your wallet!
- SeaPass Card: You will need your SeaPass card to disembark the ship and for most transactions on the island, including refreshment purchases and excursions. All-inclusive drink packages are applicable on the island, so don’t forget to take advantage of this.
- Water shoes: If you plan to swim, be prepared for a rocky experience, and pack your water shoes. While there is plenty of white sand at Labadee’s beaches, the ocean floor can be treacherous and the beaches themselves can heat up in the afternoon sun. To avoid a stubbed toe or a burnt foot, pack water shoes and wear them when entering and exiting the water.
- Towels: There are no towel stations on Labadee, so be sure to take your own beach towel ashore.
- Water bottle: There are water refill stations available at each buffet, so you can stay hydrated all day if you bring your own insulated cup.
Other Tips for Visiting Labadee
- Lockers are available to rent near the Dragon’s Breath Zipline for around $10/locker. These are available for the entire day and can be useful for storing your items while exploring the peninsula.
- The best months to visit Labadee are between December and April, when it is not too hot in Haiti.
- To avoid the lines at popular attractions such as the Dragon Zipline and Dragon’s Tail Coaster, head there as soon as you arrive.
There are many Haitians who work at the cruise port and some sell locally made products. You can’t use your cruise card for buying crafts and goods at these market places so have some cash on hand.
From stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters to adrenaline-pumping activities, there is something for everyone to enjoy at Labadee. Whether you choose to explore the market, sample delicious Haitian cuisine, or simply relax on the beach and take in the breathtaking scenery, you are sure to enjoy your time ashore.
Related: Best things to do in Labadee, Haiti
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach day or a thrilling adventure, you’ll find it at Labadee. There are five stretches of stunning shoreline to choose from, each with its own unique atmosphere. Dragon’s Beach is the most popular spot, with its white sand beach and turquoise waters. Columbus Cove is a more secluded option, perfect for couples or families who want to escape the crowds.
If you’re looking for some excitement, there are plenty of ways to get your adrenaline pumping at Labadee. You can soar through the air on the world’s longest over-water zipline, race down the alpine coaster, or try your hand at parasailing. There are also a variety of watersports available, including kayaking, paddleboarding, and jet skiing.
In addition to its fun activities, Labadee is also known for its friendly and welcoming atmosphere. The local Haitians are always happy to help visitors make the most of their time on the island.
Here are a few ways to experience Labadee:
- Cruise with Royal Caribbean or Celebrity Cruises: Labadee is only accessible to Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise guests. Royal Caribbean offers a variety of cruises that include a stop at Labadee on a Western Caribbean itinerary, ranging from short weekend cruises to longer voyages.
- Book a shore excursion: Royal Caribbean offers a variety of shore excursions, including ziplining, parasailing, and watersports.
- Visit Artisan’s Village: Artisan’s Village is a great place to shop for souvenirs and learn about Haitian culture. Local artisans sell a variety of goods, including wood carvings, paintings, and jewelry.
- Relax on the beach: If you’re looking for a relaxing beach day, Labadee is the perfect place. There are five stretches of stunning shoreline to choose from, each with its own unique atmosphere. You can rent a beach chair and umbrella, or simply spread out your towel on the sand.
- Take a free tram ride: Labadee is a large peninsula, so it can be helpful to take the free tram ride to get around. The tram stops at all of the major attractions, including the beach, Artisan’s Village, and the Dragon’s Splash Waterslide.
- Try a Labadoozie: A Labadoozie is a frozen cocktail that is only available at Labadee. It’s a delicious and refreshing way to cool off on a hot day.
Related: Best things to do in Labadee, Haiti