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Labadee-A Learning Experience


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We went to Labadee for the 1st time last week. My wife is awaiting knee surgery so we wanted to take the tram directly to Columbus Cove. We asked the tram driver if his tram would take us there. Affirmative response. He dropped us off at Town Village, pointed us toward the entrance to the artist village shopping area and told us to walk down the road to Columbus Cove. We thought that was as close as we get, so we started the difficult walk down the hilly sandy road. In the shopping area we were continually yelled at by the vendors. Some vendors were fighting among themselves on the side of the road. A female vendor got in front of us telling us repeatedly that we had to go to her shop. She blocked our path numerous times. I tried to explain to her that my wife was having trouble walking and we needed to get to Columbus Cove so she could get to a beach chair. The vendor still insisted that we had to go to her shop. I had no choice but to tell her firmly that we were not going to her shop and to get out of our way. I know the vendors are trying to make a living with the return of cruisers to Labadee but blocking our path was too much. We found out later that there was a "short" tram with only 1 car that does go directly to Columbus Cove. There is also the tram that we rode on that has a longer car, or multiple cars attached that does not go to Columbus Cove. A simple mistake, or lack of accurate information. Our day at Columbus Cove was very enjoyable, the clear water was beautiful. We return to Labadee in a few weeks with knowledge to take the "short" tram. There was only 1 ship in port on our visit so lunch was only served at the main food service area in Town Plaza. Take the "short" tram.

Labadee Entrance.jpg

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52 minutes ago, carlosalonsor said:

I had a weird experience too at Labadee just before the shutdown. I've always thought that the chairs and loungers on the different Labadee beaches are complementary but there was an individual aggressively charging people using them.  

Once we got to Columbus Cove, the RC employees were very friendly and helpful. They told us that lunch would not be served at C. Cove that day so we should take the short tram to the main food area for lunch. Also, no charge for chairs and loungers at Columbus Cove.

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$10 to the guys sitting in the golf carts at the end of the pier and they will take you anywhere you want to go, door to door.  

The locals in the market are very aggressive there, more so than other islands.  It makes for a not very enjoyable shopping time.  I still like Labadee though.    

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We were there in early February, third ship back. The vendors were vocal and considering all they had been through, hurricane and no tourism, so I can not blame them. We knew what we were looking for and made a targeted purchase, which caused a fuss from the other vendors, and we felt bad for them. We simply tried not to engage but we pushed, we had a vaild excuse, which was, we were from Australia and could not import wooden products, which helped.  It was tough and emotional for us as we thought about how hard life is for them, so we make our time there quite swift.  

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Thank you for sharing your unfortunate experience. This is what this platform is all about and I have learned a lot over the years listening to all the advice and sometimes the mistakes or missteps of others.

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We haven't been to Labadee in far too many years.  But, our experience was just the opposite.  Well, except for the tram, that was not too good.  But, we found the vendors to be very quiet and respectful, which surprised us.  We've been to just about every Caribbean Island/country that Brand X and Royal go to.  Without exception, we found the shop owners, in the other Caribbean Islands/countries were very aggressive and actually trying to get you to buy Marijuana and others (many, not all venders and locations were into the drug sales).  But, it was very pleasant in Labadee and we though Royal did a good job of letting the vendors know what the standard(s) of behavior was/is. and aggressive tactics would not be tolerated.  

Based upon what I've read hear, Royal has let things get out of hand.  It would be great if video evidence of this type of behavior be posted and also sent to Royal for their correction.  

I don't tolerate aggressive/get in your face sales tactics here in the U.S.  But, while in a 3rd world country and not knowing how sympathetic the local law enforcement is towards tourists it is prudent to just say no thanks, repeatedly, and move on as quickly and respectfully as you can.  Montego Bay was by far the worst place I've ever been for this.  I'll never go ashore there again.  

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We prefer the fixed-price shop for souvenir purchases, and we found the vendors on the roadway "normal".  One needed to barter or just say "no" and walk away.  We saw the same behavior in other locations

But back to the issue of getting around the island, and I agree that tipping can go a long way in getting good service.

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12 hours ago, twangster said:

You can also take the free boat from the pier directly to Columbus Cove but it only goes one way.  You'll need to take the tram back.  

1515522327_IMG_6196-(W)copy.thumb.jpg.eb174e06c8b152d7fd81a287df2b9d2e.jpg

 

Funny you should mention the boat. I went to the Shore Excursions desk the night before our visit to Labadee. My purpose was to ask about the boat to Columbus Cove. The RC agent gave me a deer-in-the-headlights look. He had no idea what I was talking about. I came away with no information at all. That's why we went to Labadee with very little information, ended up on the wrong tram and walked to Columbus Cove. It's not that we didn't ask for information. We did see the boat docked all day at Columbus Cove. We return to Labadee in a week. At least we won't be rookies this time. Smooth Sailing folks.

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What time do you think is good to disembark the ship in order to get the complimentary loungers at Columbus Cove? I wouldn't want to get off too late and miss out on the loungers. Also keep in mind I'll be going in September 2022 where I'm assuming cruise ships will be at full capacity once again. As per my itinerary we are to arrive at 8 am in Labadee.

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10 minutes ago, Canadian Cruiser said:

What time do you think is good to disembark the ship in order to get the complimentary loungers at Columbus Cove? I wouldn't want to get off too late and miss out on the loungers. Also keep in mind I'll be going in September 2022 where I'm assuming cruise ships will be at full capacity once again. As per my itinerary we are to arrive at 8 am in Labadee.

The earlier the better.

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13 hours ago, Canadian Cruiser said:

What time do you think is good to disembark the ship in order to get the complimentary loungers at Columbus Cove? I wouldn't want to get off too late and miss out on the loungers. Also keep in mind I'll be going in September 2022 where I'm assuming cruise ships will be at full capacity once again. As per my itinerary we are to arrive at 8 am in Labadee.

If you dock at 8 am, you should be cleared to disembark about 8:30. I suggest a good breakfast first and be ready to head for the beach approx 8:30. Our 1st visit, we were the only ship at Labadee that day so there was no problem with getting a good selection of chairs at the beach. There were lots of chairs there. There were guys at the beach to help you select a chair and wipe it off for you. I suspect they may be working for a tip. They were very friendly and helpful. Ask if lunch will be served at Columbus Cove [CC] that day. If not, you will need to take the tram back to the main town plaza/food area. The bar at CC was open on our visit, just not the lunch service. Take sunscreen, ship pool towels,sun glasses and a hat. We bought a small duffle bag at Walmart <$10 to put our beach stuff and towels in, very handy.  Enjoy your day.

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After being there recently I believe that Royal Caribbean should just pick another island. To me Labadee was a last resort place. Yes the vendors were pushy. There just wasn't alot to do but eat, drink or swim in the ocean. Putting a pool in would have been nice. I highly doubt Royal Caribbean will put anymore money into it.

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Will be returning to Labadee in two weeks for my second visit here, I will be steering clear of the Artisan Village.  I fully realize that the locals are hurting and in severe poverty but I wish that Royal would require the vendors to attend training on how to sell to the cruisers.  Having a "gift" thrust upon you and having them stand in your way to force you into their shops is just not a pleasant experience.  If they toned back their approach more cruisers would stroll through the village a buy some of their wares.  You can't sell to people who avoid you.

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It sounds like the vendors at Labadee forgot the training/rules whatever that Royal asked of them pre-Covid.

I suggest letting guest services know about it as the vendors, as far as I understand, are under similar rules as shore excursion companies and need to meet RC's standards. Being pushy to that extent isn't what Royal wants of the vendors that get access especially on an island tied to their name.

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We visited Labadee in Feb, 2020 just a week or so before the shutdown.  We were not impressed and we now avoid cruises stopping there.  That can be a challenge in itself.  We too encountered very pushy vendors!  One used a toddler trained to get in our way so she could attempt to drag us into her shop.  Another guy tried to rub aloe  on my face without my permission and then said I owed him $10.   Not a good time. 

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