5-star Games accommodation

The first of 11 cruise ships which will be docked in the port of Piraeus next summer in order to host some 13,000 VIP guests attending the Athens Olympics was presented to the media yesterday. The MS Oosterdam, an 82,000-ton liner, almost fresh out of the docks – it began its maiden voyage in Venice back in July – will be one of two five-star liners docked in Piraeus, along with the Queen Mary II, the world’s biggest cruise ship, still under construction in St Nazaire, France. The Oosterdam, now on a Mediterranean cruise, docked yesterday at the seaside resort of Loutraki, west of Athens. It was to sail for Corfu last night. The ship, which belongs to Holland America Line, can host up to 1,848 passengers in 924 cabins, ranging from 17-square-meter inside cabins to two 125-square-meter penthouse suites. The amenities, including bars, lounges, swimming pools, a casino, a nightclub, a spa, sports facilities, an Internet room and even a library, are certainly five-star class. The Oosterdam will host representatives from 15 national Olympic committees, including Russia’s and South Africa’s. It is said that Russian President Vladimir Putin, officially invited by organizers to attend next year’s Games, may use one of the two penthouse suites if he accepts the invitation. The Oosterdam and the four-star MS Rotterdam, another Holland America Line ship, have been chartered by Sportius Hospitality SA, a Greek company offering a range of services, from accommodation to packages for athletes wishing to prepare in one of several training facilities in Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus. Sportius Hospitality, the official travel and ticket agent for the Olympic committees of Cyprus, Russia and Ukraine, has also undertaken to create VIP packages for the Greek subsidiaries of Hewlett Packard, Nokia, SAP and Sony. Vassilis Neiadas, head of accommodation for Olympic organizers Athens 2004, said some 30 percent of the 13,000 places in the cruise ships were still available. The port of Piraeus is undergoing extensive renovations to accommodate the liners, which will partially alleviate the shortage of rooms in the Athens area.