Palm Beach Princess controversial trip to Haiti

RIVIERA BEACH, FL (WFLX) - The directors of the casino ship plan to set sail for Haiti Friday to provide relief. But, critics say, this may not be as humanitarian an act as it sounds.

Update, FRI 9 AM: The Palm Beach Princess is still docked at the Port of Palm Beach, and all passenger cruises are suspended. Managers of the ship reportedly told crew members this week the ship will sail to Haiti and serve as a floating hotel for relief workers and make money in the process.

The lawyer handling the Palm Beach Princesses's bankruptcy, however, says there's no way this ship will be allowed go to Haiti while it's navigating through financially troubled waters. "A lot of the machines we used to play on, quite a few of them, are all missing -- gone. And a lot them were broken not accepting money. The other issue here is the crew, most of whom, are from other countries."

According to our news partners at the "Palm Beach Post", the fear among some employees is if the ship went to Haiti, they could end up stranded without back pay or travel arrangements to return to their native countries.

The owners have been promising they will get a replacement ship for the Princess.

Previously: Our area's only gambling cruise ship is apparently headed to Haiti. Right now, the Palm Beach Princess sits at its berth at the Port of Palm Beach in Riviera Beach

The ship's Web site says its day cruises are suspended until further notice.

Thursday Port Director Manny Almira said the company that owns the Princess has told him it will move the Princess to Haiti in the next week to provide housing for aide workers there.

In recent months, the Princess has had engine problems and labor troubles. The company is in bankruptcy. And regulators had given the Princess until fall to make major safety improvements to the ship.

Princess owners have been promising for weeks they would acquire a replacement vessel, instead of continuing to operate the ship now at the Port of Palm Beach. The Princess Web site indicates cruises will resume when the new vessel arrives.

Almira said he was told a few Princess employees will go with the ship to Haiti. Other workers would be returned to their home countries.

Among some employees, there is speculation the move to Haiti is a way to get rid of employees. Staff members at the Princess office Thursday said they could not comment, but released a statement late Thursday.

The statement says Ocean Development decided to halt operations here due to expenses. They are also in negotiations with a company that wants to charter the boat as a recreational floating hotel to entertain relief workers in Haiti.

The company is hoping to resume a gambling cruise with a different boat in the future.