Room alternatives needed

Olympic Games organizers Athens 2004 have asked around 1,000 Olympics officials to accept being relocated to rooms other than those they have already booked for the August 13-29 Games, Athens 2004 said yesterday. The move comes after organizers crossed out from their housing plans three out of a total seven cruise ships hired to offer more than 2,000 cabins to Olympics officials. The ships, Olympia Voyager, Olympia Explorer, and Olympia Countess, are under auction in the United States and South Africa after creditors of their Greek operator Royal Olympia Cruises (ROC) ordered the ships to be sold. «For the moment, we can’t count on those ships. We cannot wait until auctions in America are finished and new owners are found to make deals with them,» Vassilis Niadas, Athens 2004 Games services general manager, who is also in charge of accommodation, told AFP. The three ships can carry around 1,000 passengers each. «We have proposed to the Olympic family either to take cabins in the other cruisers hired or in hotels on land,» Niadas added. The Athens 2004 official admitted that the relocation plan will shrink hotel space available to non-official visitors. Athens 2004 has chartered 11 cruisers to serve as floating hotels during the Games to boost the Greek capital’s thin hotel capacity by 13,000 beds. Thirty percent of the cabins available in six of them, including the three failed ROC ships, were booked for Olympics officials. The seventh, Queen Mary 2, the world’s largest ocean liner, is fully reserved for them. But it is not certain yet that the operators of the three remaining cruisers which are planned to host members of the Olympic family will accept increasing the 30 percent share available to officials, by limiting cabin capacity for ordinary visitors who normally pay higher prices. «ROC owners had agreed to book 30 percent of the ships’ cabins to Athens 2004 at very low prices, with the calculation that they will ‘average out’ by selling the remaining 70 percent to ordinary tourists at higher prices,» said Michalis Lambros, manager of Greek operator Majestic Cruises, which bought the Olympia Countess in an auction in South Africa early February. «We have offered the ship to Athens 2004 for the Games, but only at a reasonable price,» Lambros told AFP. If the relocation proposal is accepted, Olympia Countess will not be needed, Niadas said. The Olympia Voyager and the Olympia Explorer are to be auctioned off in the US in spring. (AFP)