Labadee

Labadee Guide & Tips

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Category: 
16Jun2016

Labadee is Royal Caribbean's private destination in Haiti, and is a common port of call for many Royal Caribbean western Caribbean-bound cruise ships. This guide provides tips for visiting Labadee, including things to do and not not to do and how to make the most of your time on Labadee.

For starters, some basics about Labadee and then we will get into some recommendations.It is a a 260-acre private beach resort used exclusively by Royal Caribbean guests and crew members.  Royal Caribbean sister company ships, most notably Celebrity Cruise Line, have also been known to stop there. The Royal Caribbean ships dock right at Labadee, making for an easy on-off experience. You will need to bring your SeaPass card with you when you get off the ship at a minimum, but we recommend bringing a small day bag with you to keep valuables and belongings together.

Most times Royal Caribbean provides a towel station on the dock for guests as they exit the ship, but you can alternatively pick up towels to use on the pool deck.  Once off the ship, you will walk down the dock towards land and pass through the Labadee entrance area, which is your gateway to what Labadee offers.  Recently, Royal Caribbean has been offering a water taxi that picks guests up at the dock and takes them directly to Columbus Cove beach, which is the furthest beach to walk to.

Exploring Labadee

Royal Caribbean provides tram service to get around Labadee, but it is optional and we find walking to be quite manageable.  The tram is nice to hop on if it is convenient, but by no means necessary. Plus, Labadee has a lot of natural beauty to behold and walking around will give you a good sense of the layout of the beaches as well as an appreciation for the natural wonders.

It is not a bad idea to walk through Labadee and make your way to Columbus Cove and take the shuttle back at some point during your stay at Labadee, even if you are not interested in going to Columbus Cove. This is because you will be able to check out the striking natural beauty and great beaches and the walk really is not that bad, and can actually be faster than the trams.

Labadee itself has an interesting past.  It was named after the marquis de La Badie, a Frenchman who first settled the area in the 17th century. The peninsula was named Labadie, although Royal Caribbean spells it "Labadee" to make it easier for English-speakers to pronounce.

Beaches

Labadee is made up of five main beaches.  Most guests arriving at Labadee tend to go to Adrenaline Beach, because it is located closest to the dock and when walking off the dock, it is the first beach guests see.  This beach is on the north side of Labadee and extends all the way down the north coast.  This combination of proximity to the ship and things to do is the kind of mix that leads to it becoming crowded first and ends up being the most popular.

If you do not plan on going to Adrenaline Beach all day, try to arrive either early or late.  We noticed it is the least busy and the most pristine first thing in the morning, so if you plan on doing any activity, early in the morning is the best time for that.  If you just want to enjoy the beach, the last couple of hours on Labadee is the best time to go.  Guests tend not to want to be stranded on the island, and overcompensate for the fear that this will happen by leaving the beach about 1-2 hours before the ship leaves. 

Barefoot Beach is a beach reserved for suite and cabana guests exclusively and located on the south side of the island.  It is a relatively smaller beach, compared to Adrenaline Beach and is more of a cove in shape.  By far, Barefoot Beach is the smallest beach of all the choices and access is controlled by checking a guest's SeaPass card. Because of its exclusivity, crowds on Barefoot Beach are not as much a problem.

Adjacent to Barefoot Beach is Nellie's Beach, which looks very similar to Barefoot Beach but is open to all guests.  About a 10 minute walk from the dock, Nellie's Beach features another cove-type beach, with rocks on both sides that enclose the area. Many guests looking for an alternative to Adrenaline Beach end up at Nellie's Beach because it is still close to the dock area and quite pleasant looking.

Columbus Cove is the furthest beach from the dock area, but offers a lot of space and the least crowds.  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.

Which beach you pick can depend on a lot of factors, especially what time you arrive at the beach.  Crowds will build as the day progresses and most guests tend to fill spots closest to the dock first, extending out towards Adrenaline Beach and Columbus Cove. 

Regardless of which beach you end up going to, you should bring some cash with you for tips.  Chairs are complimentary, but there are locals on Labadee who will help you set them up and it is customary to provide a tip for the assistance.

Dining

There are three lunch locations on Labadee, where guests can enjoy a BBQ-style lunch and it is included in the cost of the cruise.  Dragon's Rock Cafe is located very close to the dock area, Cafe Labadee is at the end of Adrenaline Beach and Columbus Cove Cafe is right in the middle of the beach area to serve guests on that side of Labadee.

Each of these locations serves almost exactly the same items, namely BBQ, including chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, fresh fruit, corn on the cob and more. The offerings are virtually identical in terms of food selection, so it is just a matter of which location is more convenient for you to go to.

Another option is to go back aboard your cruise ship, and have lunch onboard in the Windjammer or other location.  Some people prefer this for greater variety and a chance to regroup, but keep in mind that your time in Labadee is rather limited. The food on Labadee may not win any culinary awards, but there should be something for everyone, which fits in well on a beach day.

There are also at least 8 bars on Labadee, with roaming waiters that will also take your order.  Each bar location has a set of drinks available for purchase. Guests that have a Royal Caribbean drink package will be happy to know their package benefits work on Labadee, just like on the ship.

Without a doubt, the signature drink of Labadee is the Labadoozie, which is a citrus-based frozen drink best known for being served in sports bottles.  

After a little bit of time on Labadee, you will grow accustomed to the waiters walking around with a tray full of Labadoozies offering to sell you one.  They are as tasty as they are a spectacle to see.  You can have them with or without rum, but for the adults that opt to have rum, their beach day is sure to improve immediately.

Keep in mind Labadoozies are included in the drink package, but the souvenir sports bottle is not.  If you have a drink package and want a Labadoozie, go to the bar and ask for one in a regular cup.

Things to do

Royal Caribbean has been steadily adding more and more activities to Labadee over the years.  At its heart, Labadee is a beach day and you can go to any beach, have a seat and enjoy a day in the water with no additional cost. 

Guests looking for something more substantive to do will find quite an array of activities in Labadee.

Chief among the things to do in Labadee is the Dragon's Breath zip line, which is a 2,600 foot zip line over the ocean that takes guests across the span of Labadee. It is a bit pricey ($95 per guest), but it offers amazing views and one of the longest zip lines in the world.

On the same mountain as the zip line is the Dragon's Tail Roller Coaster, which is located 680 feet above sea level.  This is an alpine coaster that uses gravity to bring you down the mountain and combines thrills with fantastic views.

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.

There are also some simpler beach activities that can be reserved, such as snorkeling or renting a floating mat.  These cost just a few dollars per guest and allow you to enjoy the activities on your own.  The snorkeling at Labadee is not spectacular, but the ocean is clear and fairly calm.  It is a good place to practice snorkeling or test out new equipment.

Kids (and those young at heart) will gravitate towards Arawak Aqua Park, which is an aqua park in Columbus Cove.  There, you will find floating trampolines, pyramids and water slides.  You can jump, climb, fall, and climb again 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.

While the Arawak Aqua Park has an additional cost, there is a complimentary splash pad area in the near center of Labadee, known as Luc's Splash Bash.  Kids will find lots of water fountains, buckets and sprinklers to enjoy and can be great for young children who are not comfortable in the ocean yet.

There is also the Dragon's Splash Waterslide located nearby to the Aqua park and features a 300-foot slide that drops you into a 18-foot splash zone.

Photo by TravnKC

For those that want a beach day but would like to enhance that experience, there are a few options available.  Beach loungers provide shade and a little bit of personalized service for a modest fee.  We really like the protection from the sun these provide and think it is a good choice for families. There is a private beach lounger area on Adrenaline Beach, which can be reserved in advance.

Guests can also opt to rent beach beds at the end of Adrenaline Beach.  The idea is to have a comfortable place to relax, while still being right on the beach.  From your beach bed, you can relax in comfort as the ocean breeze passes by you, with a great view of Dragon's Beach.

For those that want the ultimate beach experience on Labadee, it is hard to overlook the cabanas. The Labadee cabanas come in two forms: beach and over-the-water and are available to rent at Nellie's Beach and Barefoot Beach.  The cabanas at Barefoot Beach are reserved and offered to suite guests first, but the Nellie's Beach cabanas are usually available to all guests. Cabanas can accommodate up to six guests comfortably and provide privacy as well as a lot of nice perks, including complimentary floats, snorkel equipment, beverages and waiter service.

That rounds out some of the more notable things to do on Labadee, but there is much more available.  Fishing, parasailing, jet skiing, kayaks and boat tours are just some of the activities available while visiting Labadee.

All excursions and activities on Labadee are booked directly through Royal Caribbean and your best bet is to reserve it prior to your cruise via the Cruise Planner. You can wait to book onboard your ship, but there is a risk of some options selling out (such as the Cabanas).

Shopping

While visiting Labadee, you might be inclined to bring a little bit of it home to remember it by.  Royal Caribbean provides two major spots to do some shopping in Labadee: the Artisan Market and the Artisan Village.  The Maket is more of a store, with pre-set prices and offering hand-made goods.  The Village is more of an open air market, where guests are expected to haggle with the vendors.  

You will find wood carvings, necklaces, paintings, shirts and other souvenirs in there. Be sure to bring cash for either location, because your SeaPass card does not work for these purchases.

It is worth noting we have heard from many guests who were turned off by the shopping experience in the Artisan Village. Specifically, the vendors tend to be pushy and not everyone is comfortable with that.  Still, if you want an authentic souvenir from Haiti, this is your only option and the Market is less intense, compared to the Village.

You will also find a couple of Royal Caribbean shops on Labadee, where you can buy t-shirts, beach wear and other knick knacks.

What to pack

There are a few things you will want to bring to Labadee that you not otherwise consider. First, quality water shoes. You will want these because the paved walkways and even that white sand can get hot, plus in the water there are plenty of rocks that could be stepped on. Second, bring a camera (a waterproof camera would be ideal) because there is a lot to see and do on Labadee and you will want to remember it all.  With decent underwater cameras costing less than $100, it is worth it to have one so that you can take photos in and out of the water.  Plus, you will likely be able to use it on other port stops during your cruise.

You might also want to consider bringing your own set of snorkels or water toys.  Both can be rented from Royal Caribbean, although guests cannot go to Labadee and rent snorkeling gear on the island directly.  Rather, guests can get snorkeling gear via any of the snorkeling excursions. On many Royal Caribbean ships, there will be snorkeling gear to purchase onboard the ship. Water toys, such as beach mats, are available for rent but will cost more than if you bought an inflatable one to bring with you.  Granted, in the case of snorkel gear and water toys, you must be willing and able to pack and bring them because they will take up space in your suitcase and then you have to haul them back and forth from the ship.  Not everyone is willing to do that.  Even if you do need them on Labadee, you might be better renting or buying. 

Other items are more common-sense based: sunscreen, hats, and other beach-ware. You don’t need to bring the whole kitchen sink of stuff off your cruise ship and onto Labadee. If you forget something in your stateroom, you can always go back and get it!

Your thoughts

Do you have any tips to add for enjoying Royal Caribbean's Labadee? Any favorite excursions or things you think are a good value? Drink recommendations? Any other secrets to share or questions? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please leave a comment below!

Spotlight: Labadee Beach Loungers

In:
Category: 
18May2016

Royal Caribbean's private destination of Labadee is a beautiful beach paradise that offers guests spectacular views, warm blue waters and a relaxing day.

A somewhat new offering on Labadee has popped up, where guests can reserve beach loungers that promise a little bit of privacy, protection from the sun and some exclusive benefits.

While on a recent Royal Caribbean cruise to Labadee, we tried out these beach loungers for ourselves to see what it is all about.

The official name of these clamshell shades are the Beach Lounger for Two, and they cost $35 for each beach lounger.

Each beach lounger can accommodate two guests and what you pay gets you a few benefits

  • A private beach lounger reserved for you, that provides protection from the sun and a little bit of privacy too
  • A beach attendant, who can order drinks for you
  • Access to a beach area for guests that reserve a beach lounger.

The beach loungers are set up on Adrenaline Beach, which is the beach opposite of where your Royal Caribbean ship is docked, somewhat underneath the path of the Dragon's Flight zip line.

Once reserved online or onboard the ship, guests may proceed to the area at their convenience. Once there, a beach attendant will help pick out the beach lounger of your choice (based on what is available at the time of your arrival).  Beach loungers are taken on a first-come, first-served basis.

Each lounger can fit two lounge chairs, with a little space for bags and other personal belongings around and under the chairs.

While the lounger is meant to seat two guests, there is no limit of guests that can enjoy the lounger or the area. We saw families of 4 and more sharing one lounger in many cases.

We really liked having protection from the sun and a somewhat private area to enjoy.  Cabanas and beach beds offer similar experiences, but at a much higher cost. At $35 for each lounger, it is a solid deal.

The beach attendant experience is nice as well, as it is much simpler to have a single point of contact when you need a drink.  Keep in mind that while the beach attendant services are included with the beach lounger reservation, tips are expected.

Unfortunately, the beach lounger will not provide complete shade at all times of the day. Depending on the position of the sun, it is quite likely for there to be sunlight shining onto at least part of the lounge chairs at any given time. If your goal is to get somewhere on the beach with complete shade, a cabana is still your best bet.

Overall, the price makes these beach loungers quite a competitive option that is hard to overlook.

Unlike their CocoCay cousins, there are less perks available with the beach lounger, but the loungers on Labadee are also less expensive.

The Labadee beach loungers are perfect for anyone that wants to enjoy the Labadee experience without worrying about finding a spot and values a little protection from the elements while they are at it.

Nellie's Beach Cabanas on Royal Caribbean's Labadee

In:
Category: 
11Apr2016

Guests that want a private beach experience on Royal Caribbean's private destination of Labadee are sure to enjoy the cabanas available for rent on Nellie's Beach.

Royal Caribbean offers cabana rentals at two of its beaches in Labadee: Nellie's Beach and Barefoot Beach.  

Barefoot Beach, and its cabanas, are reserved for suite guests only, but the cabanas at Nellie's Beach are available for rent to all guests.

Guests may reserve cabanas online via the Cruise Planner.

Cabanas at Nellie's Beach come in two forms: Beach cabanas and Over the Water cabanas.

Beach Cabanas cost $395 (for up to six guests) and Over the Water cabanas cost $495 (for up to six guests).

While on a recent Allure of the Seas cruise, we were able to check out the Over the Water cabanas.

Over the Water cabanas are situated on rock groupings that line the Nellie's Beach area.  They each have a walkway down to the ocean for private water access, and to avoid having to walk back to the beach itself.

As the day progresses and the beach gets busier, this private access is better appreciated.

By far, the views guests enjoy at the Over the Water cabanas are quite beautiful.

Also, no cabana experience is complete without a Labadoozie. Waiter service is included for all cabanas.

Each cabana is equipped with two lounge chairs and a large seating area inside the cabana.  A cabana attendant is also assigned to you, who can assist you with any requests you may have.

Cabana guest also get to enjoy complimentary bottles of water (in a cooler), two floating beach mats, snorkeling gear and towels.

Cabana guests at Nellie's Beach also have access to private golf cart transportation.  Simply indicate to your cabana attendant that you would like to go somewhere (back to the ship, to the buffet, shore excursions, etc) and a golf cart will be brought to your cabana for your comfort and then you will be driven to your destination.

The cabanas at Labadee are perfect for anyone that wants to spend the whole day at the beach and prefers to have a private beach experience. 

Photo tour of Labadee's natural beauty

In:
Category: 
08Mar2016

When we generally write about Royal Caribbean's private destination of Labadee, we often talk about things to do on the beach, but today it is all about showcasing the natural beauty of Labadee.

In addition to the fun and relaxing things to do in Labadee, the peninsula in northern Haiti features remarkable natural beauty.

Debby Smith was recently at Labadee and took some great photos of the natural beauty surrounding this paradise.

This area is available for all guests to enjoy on their own.  Head towards the spa and take a left. If you go past the zip line area, you will find the path leading to where these photos were taken.

Royal Caribbean resumes visits to private destination of Labadee

In:
26Jan2016

Royal Caribbean was able to resume stops at its private destination of Labadee, following three cancelled scheduled stops due to local protests.

Allure of the Seas was able to dock in Labadee earlier this morning, and its guests were able to disembark and enjoy the activities onshore.

Good morning Haiti #royalcaribbean #labadee #haiti

A photo posted by Brittany (@_brittnaynay_) on

Royal Caribbean has been working closely with local and government officials in Haiti to monitor the situation and ensure the safety of its guests.

Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas skips Labadee due to local protests

In:
24Jan2016

Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas skipped her scheduled stop at Labadee today because of concerns related to protests by locals in the area.

Photo by Michael C

Royal Caribbean confirmed that Vision of the Seas did not call on Labadee today.  Guests onboard Vision of the Seas have indicated the ship will head to San Juan earlier than expected.

For guests wondering what the future holds for upcoming scheduled stops in Labadee, Royal Caribbean is still planning on taking the situation in Labadee on a day by day basis.

Vision of the Seas marks the third time a Royal Caribbean ship has skipped a stop at Royal Caribbean's private destination since the protests began last week.

In a statement, Royal Caribbean commented further on the situation, "Royal Caribbean has not received any guarantees or assurances that there will not be any protests in the future. If a protest takes place while a ship is port, there would be a significant impact on our guests’ ability to enjoy Labadee, or we may have to cancel the visit completely."

Royal Caribbean cancels another cruise ship stop in Labadee due to local protests

In:
21Jan2016

Royal Caribbean has decided to cancel today's scheduled stop for one of its cruise ships at the cruise line's private destination of Labadee in Haiti due to ongoing protests.

Photo by Michael C.

Navigator of the Seas was scheduled to stop at Labadee on Thursday, January 21, 2016, but Royal Caribbean canceled the port call and withdrew all employees from the site.

This is the second cruise ship to skip a stop in Labadee, after protests prevented Freedom of the Seas from allowing its guests to go ashore earlier this week.

In a statement, Royal Caribbean commented further on the situation, "Royal Caribbean has not received any guarantees or assurances that there will not be any protests in the future. If a protest takes place while a ship is port, there would be a significant impact on our guests’ ability to enjoy Labadee, or we may have to cancel the visit completely."

In regards to upcoming stops in Labadee, Royal Caribbean noted, "We will continue to closely monitor the situation and are in close communication with local and government officials in Haiti. At this time, we have not made any decisions regarding any additional upcoming port calls to Labadee. The next schedule call is Vision of the Seas, on Sunday, January 24."

Political protests in Haiti prevent Royal Caribbean guests from going to Labadee

In:
Category: 
19Jan2016

Guests aboard Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas were unable to visit the cruise line's private destination of Labadee today due to political protests in the area.

Video posted to Facebook shows Freedom of the Seas was able to dock at Labadee, but groups of protestors staged a demonstration in small boats.  This caused Freedom of the Seas' captain to decide not to let passengers off the ship.

Video by JC Roy

Cruise Critic member Nado44 estimated there were 10 motorized and colorful island watercraft carrying about 15-20 protesters each. Several non motorized row boaters also joined in.

The protests appear to be a result of protests as a result of local elections.

Royal Caribbean offered this statement regarding the situation in Labadee.

Today, when Freedom of the Seas arrived to Labadee, Haiti, the ship encountered a number of locals in small boats staging a protest.  Although this protest was peaceful in nature, it was clear that if the protest continued, there would be a significant impact on our guests’ ability to enjoy Labadee.

Therefore, Royal Caribbean cancelled Freedom of the Seas’ port call to Labadee.  Instead, the ship will remain at sea and call to Falmouth, Jamaica, tomorrow, as planned.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation and are in close communication with local and government officials in Haiti. At this time, we have not made any decisions regarding future port calls to Labadee.  The next schedule call is Navigator of the Seas, on Thursday, January 21.

 

Photo tour of a day in Royal Caribbean's Labadee

In:
03Jan2016

Perhaps you were sitting in front of your iPad, computer or mobile device and thought to yourself, "I would love a virtual trip to Royal Caribbean's private destination of Labadee" today.  Wish granted!

Royal Caribbean Blog reader Elena Oliboni shared these photos from her trip to Labadee this week on Independence of the Seas. 

Enjoy this virtual vacation!

What you need to know about snorkeling on Royal Caribbean's Labadee

In:
10Dec2015

There is so much to do on Royal Caribbean's private destination of Labadee and snorkeling is something a lot of guests look to try.

Labadee's clear and calm waters are great for giving snorkeling a try, and if you are interested in going snorkeling on your next visit, here is what you need to know.

Can I rent snorkeling gear on Labadee?

Guests cannot go to Labadee and rent snorkeling gear on the island, but guests can get snorkeling gear via any of the snorkeling excursions.

On many Royal Caribbean ships, there will be snorkeling gear to purchase onboard the ship.

Guests staying in a cabana will receive complimentary snorkeling gear to use.

Can I bring my own snorkeling gear?

Yes, guests can bring their own snorkeling gear to Labadee for use in the water.

How "good" is the snorkeling at Labadee?

While the ocean water is clear and fairly calm at Labadee, the snorkeling in the areas immediately surrounding the beach do not have a great deal of underwater sea life to see.

The excursions Royal Caribbean offers brings guests to some of the better spots nearby for snorekling, where there is more to underwater life to see.

Given Labadee is often the first port stop, veteran snorkelers often use Labadee as a chance to check their snorkel gear to make sure it all worked properly.  For those new to snorkeling, Labadee can be a great place for getting some practice in before snorkeling in other ports.

The real benefit of Labadee is that the ocean depth is pretty shallow. Often, you will be swimming in water of 1' to 5' of water, which is much shallower than other snorkeling ports and allows  to swim around coral in many places.

There is a lot of coral and a good variety of fish. There are lots of urchins including some big basketball size ones. It is a unique experience you don't get at the other places.

Where is the snorkeling?

The snorkeling area is off of Adrenaline Beach, on the north east side.

Getting there is fairly simple and about a 10 minute walk once on Labadee. Guests can follow the path or take the tram to bring you closer.

There is also some decent snorkeling at Nellie's beach, closest to the rope on the ship side.

What are some tips for anyone looking to snorkel at Labadee?

  • Go early for optimal water conditions. As the day progresses, the water can get hazy due to guests kicking up the sand.
  • Due to the rockiness, be sure to wear water shoes or fins.

Have you gone snorkeling in Labadee? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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