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Is it safe to travel to Haiti right now? What travelers should know

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The State Department is urging Americans not to travel to Haiti amid fresh gang violence in the country, which declared a state of emergency last week.

While neither the warnings nor violence are entirely new – Haiti has been a Level 4: Do Not Travel destination in State Department travel advisories since before the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse – a spate of recent high-profile attacks, including an attempt by armed gangs to seize control of the country’s main international airport, has sparked renewed urgency. 

“The current security situation in Haiti is unpredictable and dangerous,” the U.S. Embassy in Haiti said in a security alert issued Sunday. “We are aware that there are few or no commercial options to depart Haiti safely at this time. As they become available, we urge U.S. citizens to take advantage of them. The U.S. Embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens is severely limited.”

The U.S. military stepped in to airlift American personnel “into and out of the Embassy” to augment security, U.S. Southern Command said Sunday in a statement to USA TODAY. The embassy is also coordinating assisted departure flights “through non-commercial means” for U.S. citizens, according to its website.

Helicopter rides from U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic are available, and the country also “indicated they will allow U.S. citizens to enter” through a land border with a valid passport, according to a State Department advisory. The airport in Cap-Haitien has “limited commercial flight activity” as well, the advisory said.

Americans in Haiti can fill out crisis intake forms and enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program program for updates. 

Here’s what airlines and cruise lines are doing about trips to Haiti:

Haiti violence: Military airlifts American personnel out of embassy as Haiti spirals into violence

Are there direct flights to Haiti?

Three U.S. airlines typically operate direct flights to Haiti: American, JetBlue and Spirit. However, all three have temporarily suspended service and issued travel waivers for the Caribbean destination.

American Airlines customers with flights scheduled to, through, or from Port-au-Prince (PAP) through April 1 may modify flights without paying change fees. Changes must be made by April 1 with the same origin and destination cities as the original booking.

JetBlue Airways is waiving change and cancellation fees for travelers with flights scheduled to and from Port-au-Prince through April 15. Changes can be made through April 30.

Spirit Airlines is waiving change fees and fare differences on travel to, from, or through Cap Haitien (CAP) and Port-au-Prince through April 15. Travelers should rebook by April 30. After that, the airline said change fees would still be waived, but fare differences may apply.

Is Royal Caribbean still going to Haiti?

Royal Caribbean and its sister line Celebrity Cruises normally sail to Labadee, Haiti, a private destination roughly six hours away from Port-au-Prince by car. However Royal Caribbean is skipping several previously scheduled stops, in coming days.

The following sailings will not go to Labadee.

  • Adventure of the Seas: 3/15 sailing 
  • Mariner of the Seas: 3/16 sailing
  • Explorer of the Seas: 3/17 sailing 
  • Oasis of the Seas: 3/17, 3/24, 3/31, 4/7 and 4/14 sailings
  • Symphony of the Seas: 3/17, 3/23, 3/31, 4/6, 4/14, 4/20 and 4/28 sailings
  • Grandeur of the Seas: 3/18 sailing 
  • Independence of the Seas: 4/4, 4/8, 4/18 and 4/22 sailings

“The safety and security of our guests, crew, and communities we visit are our top priority,” a Royal Caribbean spokesperson said in a statement to USA TODAY. “Our Global Security and Intel Team is closely monitoring the evolving situation in Haiti, and in an abundance of caution, we are temporarily making adjustments to sailings visiting Labadee. We will continue to monitor and reassess calls as needed, and will communicate updates with guests directly.”

As recently as March 11, the cruise line had not canceled any sailings to Labadee, but was keeping a close on the situation while noting that it had private security in the area, which was closed to the public.

It doesn’t look like any Celebrity cruises are scheduled there until fall.

Contributing: Nathan Diller, USA TODAY

Eve Chen is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Atlanta. You can reach her at echen@usatoday.com.

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