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Friday, January 22, 2010

Sent to Robin at CNN HLN

Hi Robin,

I am currently ON one of the cruise ships that has been to Haiti and our port of call was this past Tuesday. 

The folks that are being critical of cruise ships going to Haiti are missing a few important points:

* the ships are bringing relief effort in the form of supplies and bottled water
* many passengers booked and paid for their vacations up to a year ago so that money was already spent
* the ships are going to unaffected areas and employing people in the local communities
* diverting ships to other locations deprive Haiti of valued supplies and tourist dollars

Our own ship, Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas, brought over 60 pallets of bottled water and other supplies to the island.  They also donated all money spent by the passengers that day to the Haiti relief effort.  In addition, in little more than 24 hours, over $140,000 was raised for the Red Cross relief effort by the nearly 3000 gay and lesbian passengers of this cruise, the tour company Atlantis Events, and past customers of Atlantis Events.

So for the critics, let me tell you what we did - Rather than texting $10 (which is vitally important), we donated our vacation.  We put money directly into the hands of families that were affected by this tragedy.  We helped to employ people who have family and friends that were affected by this tragedy.  We listened to local Haitians tell us about themselves, their culture, and how this effects them on a personal level.

We all do what we can, when we can, how we can.  People should talk less and do more.

Sincerely,
Rev. Vincent Russo

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