Labadee

First timer's guide to Labadee

In:
Category: 
20Aug2013

Royal Caribbean is known for its amazing cruise ships but another Royal Caribbean creation is worthy of equal admiration, the private destination of Labadee.  Located in Haiti, this "island" (it's actually a peninsula) is a private retreat for Royal Caribbean guests who sail western Caribbean itineraries.  Featuring beautiful beaches, shopping and lots of activities, Labadee is a great beach destination.  

For those who will take their first trip to Labdee, here's a primer to get you ready for this beautiful island paradise.

Getting around Labadee

Labadee is fairly easy to navigate, but it helps to know what to expect before you arrive.  Your ship will dock at the pier, so getting on and off Labadee is quite simple.  

Once on shore, you will find Labadee broken up into a few different areas.

  • Dragon's Plaza
    • This is where you enter/leave Labadee from the dock and is named after Dragon's Breath, a rocky cove near the ocean that sounds like a dragon when the ocean hits the rocks.
  • Buccaneer's Bay
    • This where you go to embark on most acquatic excursions, such as jet skiing, parasailing and more.  You can also book excursions here.
  • Barefoot Beach Club
    • Private beach for suite guests that features cabanas for rent.
  • Town Square
    • Many of the restaurants, bars and other facilities are found in this area.
  • Adrenaline Beach
    • Beach located underneath the zipline and in front of the roller coaster.  
  • Columbus Cove
    • Beach area that has water toys, such as the floating mat and aqua park

The Beaches

By far, the number one reason to go to Labadee is to spend time at the beach.  Labadee has a number of beaches for you to try and there isn't any bad beach, but which beach you go to may depend on what you're interested in doing on your day.

In our experience, we've found the beaches to be swimmable but a little rocky.  It may be easier (and less painful) if you bring water shoes with you so you can avoid worrying about the rocks.  

Dragon Tail Beach

The largest stretch of beach is on the north shore of the peninsula and spans nearly the entire width of the peninsula.  This beach is fairly centrally located and offers good surf, swimming and snorkeling.  

There are no water toys here, so it's best for those who want to relax and enjoy what the beach has to offer.  Because it's centrally located and fairly close to the pier, it tends to be the most crowded.

Loungers and sun shelters are available for rent.

Barefoot Beach Club

This beach area is reserved for guests who have booked cabanas, which is usually available to guests who are suite guests.  We have had luck in the past showing up to the beach early and requesting to rent a unbooked cabanas.

The beach is fenced off from the rest of Labadee and in addition to the open-air cabanas, offers waiter service to each cabana.  In addition, there is private beach access for guests admitted to the Barefoot Beach Club area.

The cost of a cabana at Barefoot Beach is $225-250, depending on location.  Each cabana can accommodate four to five guests. The daily rental fee includes a dedicated cabana attendant, complimentary bottled water, complimentary floating mats and snorkeling equipment, a beverage menu (prices charged accordingly), and an upgraded lunch menu at the private BBQ facility.

Nellie's Beach

Located adjacent to Barefood Beach, Nellie's Beach is a small cove that also has cabanas (16 at last count) for rent.

The daily rental fee for cabanas on Nellie’s Beach is $175-200, depending on location.

Columbus Cove

If you want to water toys with your beach day, then this is the place for you.  Columbus Cove features the Arawak Aqua Park along with Dragon’s Splash Waterslide.  

Columbus Cove runs along the the southern part of the peninsula. The beach water is sheltered and there is a white sandy beach with trees that go down to the water's edge. This area has its own bar and dining facility.

Adrenaline Beach

If you want a more secluded beach experience, Adrenaline Beach generally has the least guests because it is the furthest beach from the ship and has no water toys.  

Unlike nearby Dragon Tail Beach, there are no barrier rocks to block the ocean so the surf here can be stronger. As such, Royal Caribbean lists this beach more for sunbathing than swimming.

Loungers and sun shelters are available for rent.

Eating on Labadee

Like onboard Royal Caribbean's ships, there is complimentary food offered on Labadee, although the availability is limited to certain hours.  In addition, waiter and bar service is available throughout the island.

Lunch is available at a number of locations throughout the island, although the food is mostly the same barbecued meats and salads.  Lunch is served buffet style.

Since your cruise ship is docked, getting back on the ship is relatively easy and we suggest going back to the ship for lunch because of the better quality food available there, as well as shorter lines.

We would be remiss if we did not mention the labadoozie.  You will see and hear references to this drink all over.  The labadoozie is the official drink of Labadee and is a frozen alcoholic drink that features a number of fruit juices and rum, served in a sports drink bottle.  You can also order the drink without alcohol.  Haing a labadoozie while in Labadee is a must-do!

Things to do on Labadee

Royal Caribbean offers a number of activities for its guests to try on their cruise and there's usually something to suit each taste.

Dragon's Tail Roller Coaster

Located 680 feet up on Santa Maria’s lookout mountain, you will find the Dragon's Tail roller coaster, which is an alpine coaster.  You may have seen these sort of rides at some ski resorts during the summer months. 

Essentially it's a single car vehicle that races down a track at 30 miles per hour and features 360-degree turns as well as dips, waves and curves, you can catch glimpses of the ocean.

Minimum age to be a single rider is 12 years old. Children between the ages of 5 and 11 may ride in the same cart with their parent/guardian. Maximum occupancy per cart is 2 persons with a maximum combined weight of 360 pounds. Total ride time is approximately 3-5 minutes.

Dragon's Breath Zip Line

If you want to soar above Labadee and get a spectacular view in the process, then the Dragon's Breath Zip Line is for you.  The zip line takes you 500 feet above the beach as you reach speeds of 40-50 miles per hour.

The zip line is 2,600 feet long and begins atop lookout mointain.  The zip line is advertised as one of the longest zip lines in the world, and will take you above the ocean and land.  Your flight lands at Dragon's Breath Rock.

Arawak Aqua park

For kids, it's touch to beat the water park available at Columbus Cove.  Floating trampolines, pyramids and water slides await you as you jump, climb and splash to your heart's content.

Admission to Arawak is limited by times, which helps keep crowding issues down. We've generally found the cost here to be fairly inexpensive and a great way for kids to burn off extra energy.

Dragon's Breath Point

Not everything in Labadee requires an adrenaline rush, and a prime example of this is Dragon's Breath Point.  As the water flows in and out among the rocks, you hear a "hissing" noise that sounds like "dragon's breath".  What's happening is the air is compressed in small caves under the rocks and is forced out through cracks in the rocks. It is worth the walk to hear it.

The surrounding area is quite beautiful and you should bring a camera to snap a few photos of the beautiful vistas you will find here.

Royal Caribbean holds working meeting with Haiti officials to discuss Labadee

In:
Category: 
25Jul2013

Royal Caribbean met with representatives from Haiti's Tourism Ministry to discuss the operation of the cruise line's private destination of Labadee.

In a statement from the ministry, the meeting was focused on access to the resort area, increased integration of the villagers of Labadee in tourist activities and the general development of the region.

Haiti’s Tourism Ministry said a monitoring committee will be created to coordinate policy measure that will aim to increase local development in Labadee, along with improving access to the site.

That committee is set to become operational in mid-August.

Currently about 300 Haitians work at Labadee.

Royal Caribbean Classic: Labadoozie

In:
Category: 
15Jul2013

More than likely if you've been on a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Caribbean you have run across an alcoholic drink that is famous among Royal Caribbean fans called the Labadoozie. Labadoozie's have reached cult-like status for being a large, fruity alcohol drink that is just perfect to have while on a beach. 

So what is a labadoozie?  Basically, it's a frozen drink that mixes a lot of citrus juice, such as orange and pineapple, with a lot of rum.  Ice plus juice plus rum equals the perfect cold drink for a beach day at Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private island.  Not only is the drink tasty, it's also large.  Royal Caribbean staff will walk around Labadee for most of the day selling this iconic drink in plastic souvenir sports bottles.  

By the middle of the afternoon, you will see tons of labadoozie cups everywhere with many passengers opting to indulge with this drink for a way to forget their problems at home.  It's one of those drinks that seems to satisfy all kinds of drinkers.

While the labadooze is famous for its generous serving of rum, you can order the drinks virgin (with no alcohol) so that younger people in your party can have them or if someone just would prefer not to have any booze.

Because Labadoozies are so well known across the fleet and because of their popularity, the good news is you can usually order a labadoozie on your cruise ship even if you aren't in labadee.  It wont be in the sports drink cup, but it can hit the spot for the days at sea you wish you were still at Labadee for.

Labadoozie recipe

The two most common questions about labadoozies are what's in it and how do I make it at home?  Fret no more, we have answers to both.

  • 1/2 oz Orange Juice Concentrate
  • 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice Concentrate
  • 1/2 oz Papaya Juice Concentrate
  • 1/2 oz Coconut Cream
  • 3/4 oz Dark Rum
  • 3/4 oz Coconut Rum
  • 1/4 oz Grenadine
  • Crushed ice
    (Makes one cocktail)

Royal Caribbean will increase number of cabanas on Labadee

In:
31Aug2012

In a blog post by Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein, Royal Caribbean says it will increase the number of cabanas offered for rent on its private island of Labadee.

Goldstein says the increase is due to the warm reception its guests have shown the option and will go from the initial 20 cabanas currently on the island's Barefoot Beach club area to construct four more water cabanas there.  

Royal Caribbean will also add 16 new cabanas at Nellie's Beach for a total of 40 cabanas for rental at Labadee.

In addition, Royal Caribbean now offers 3 wheelchair accessible cabanas in Labadee.

Video: Labadee, Royal Caribbean's island paradise

In:
Category: 
29Aug2012

Photo of the Day: Explorer of the Seas in Labadee

In:
30Jun2012

Photo by Xiomara Amaro

Photo of the Day: Allure of the Seas docked in Labadee

In:
13Jun2012

Photo by IssiC_MS

Photo of the Day: Freedom of the Seas docked in Labadee

In:
16Sep2011

Excursion Focus: Barefoot Beach Cabanas at Labadee

In:
13Sep2011

Barefoot Beach Club at Labadee is a private beach enclave for those staying in a suite or those who pay their way in. Barefoot Beach is available to guests staying in a suite onboard their Royal Caribbean cruise. Once inside the walled off area, suite guests may use chairs and water toys included with the beach.

Barefoot Beach also features private cabanas you can rent for the day that include a number of amenities such as

  • bottled water
  • Snorkel gear
  • Water floating mats
  • Beach chairs
  • Private buffet access
  • Golf cart service to anywhere on Labadee

The cost of a cabana is $150 and is good for up to 6 people per cabana. Suite guests receive first chance to book the cabanas but anyone may book a cabana by simply showing up to the Barefoot Beach entrance and inquiring about availability.

While the name of the beach infers a nice sandy beach, the sand in the water is just as rocky as the rest of the beaches in Labadee and water shoes are a good investment. The secluded nature of the beach makes up for it and it's nice to not worry about a crowded water area.

Barefoot Beach also swaps out the regular stream of Royal Caribbean waiters trying to sell you alcoholic drinks, chairs or other goods in favor of attendants who can provide you with whatever you need upon request. While it was nice to not hear the regular calls for drinks, the staff were sure to remind us they work on tips each time we purchased a drink.

In terms of value, it's a bit more expensive than other excursions where you can book a cabana on other islands, especially when you consider alcohol is not included in the cost. There are definitely better deals on cabanas on other islands, so if your budget calls for only one extravagant beach day, Barefoot Beach probably isnt the best choice. However, if cost isn't the only factor then the cabanas at Barefoot Beach can be a nice choice.

If you want to pamper yourself and escape the crowds, a cabana is a great investment. For two people, the price is a little steep but if you have 4-6 people in your group, the cost makes more sense, especially for those who were planning on snorkeling or renting a mat to float on. At the end of the day, the cabanas at Barefoot Beach are a perk that is a great choice if you have the money to spare.

Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein evaluates Oasis of the Seas, Labadee and Falmouth

In:
19Aug2011

Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein has returned from a trip aboard Oasis of the Seas for an on-site evaluation of what's happening not only aboard the ship but he took a careful look at the operations at Labadee (Royal Caribbean's private island) and Falmouth, Jamaica.

Adam seemed pleased with how Oasis of the Seas was running and thought things were going well.   He did seem to have an issue with the art program aboard Oasis of the Seas, presumably related to the art auctions, "I did state in no uncertain terms that I was less than pleased with certain aspects of our art program."

While on Labadee Adam felt that things went exceedingly well and found the operation at Royal Caribbean's private beach to be top notch.  That being said, he thinks Royal Caribbean can do more to market Labadee and prepare its guests for what's waiting for them, "My takeaway is we need to do an even better job of marketing what Labadee is. I spoke to someone who had visited a number of the cruise industry’s private destinations prior to coming to Labadee. He said he and his people were just not prepared for how much there is at Labadee."

At Falmouth, Adam characterized the progress at the port as "90% done".  He mentioned that the most important task left to do here is to complete construction of the arrival/departure terminal building, which should have been done by now but Adam says it will be done in September.

In terms of merchants, Adam says Royal Caribbean expects 70% of the available retail space to be occupied in the next few weeks.  He also hinted that some new restaurants will be added in the near-future.

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