The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Over to an Olympic Games cruise

Loutraki (Greece): Olympic organisers Monday unveiled the first of 11 luxury cruise ships that will help to fill an accommodation shortfall for the Athens Games.

The floating hotel type ships will provide about 4,000 luxury rooms and suites for the extended Olympic family of state dignitaries, VIPs and the International Olympic Committee.

The vessels will house a total of 13,000 passengers in the largest project of its kind in Games history. Ships were also used during Sydney 2000 but on a far smaller scale.

The Oosterdam, a Holland-American line ship shown to journalists Monday while it was on a normal Greek cruise, will dock at Piraeus, Athens’ port city, on the evening before the Games opening ceremony on August 13 next year.

Among its guests will be members of the Russian and South African national Olympic committees.

Athens officials said the Oosterdam, with 924 cabins, will house about 1,800 passengers. The biggest of the ships, the Queen Mary II, will take about 2,200.

“These ships and another nine will complement our need for luxury rooms as the hotels are not enough,” ATHOC Games services chief Vassilis Niadas said.

Despite extensive renovation of most major Athens hotels ahead of the Olympics, organisers failed to meet the 20,000 luxury room target set by the International Olympic Committee.

Prices for rooms on the five-star, 10-deck Oosterdam start at 300 euros a night rising to several thousand euros a night for penthouses.

Niadas said that while about 30 percent of all cruise ship rooms had been reserved for the Olympic family, cabins were available for visitors.

“If someone wants to have this experience they should hurry up and make their reservations now,” he said.

Organisers are racing to complete several road projects from the port where the ships will anchor, 10 km west of the capital, to venue sites.

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