No final deal on 2004 cruise ship

No agreement has been reached yet on whether the world’s biggest passenger ship will help ease a severe accommodation crunch during the 2004 Olympics, the vessel’s operators said yesterday. The lack of a firm deal for the Queen Mary II – now under construction in France – could pose serious complications for Olympic planners, who announced last week plans to house more than 13,000 visitors on the Queen Mary II and 10 other cruise ships. A spokesman for the British-based Cunard Line, Eric Flounders, said, «Reports are a bit premature.» He told The Associated Press that talks were under way between Cunard and the 2004 organizers, but «nothing has been agreed on yet.» Athens is facing a huge challenge to find space for spectators and others at the Games. Nearly all of Athens’s prime hotel rooms are already assigned to the International Olympic Committee, sponsors and other dignitaries. Alternative housing plans included rented homes in Athens and the use of cruise ships docked at the nearby port of Piraeus. The Queen Mary II, which will accommodate more than 2,600 passengers, is sought as the centerpiece of the cruise ship fleet. The vessel will have five swimming pools, 15 decks and measure 345 meters (1,138 feet) in length and be the equivalent of 23 stories high. It is being built by Alstom and its subsidiary Chantiers de l’Atlantique at the French Atlantic coast shipyard at Saint-Nazaire. Its maiden voyage is planned for January 12, 2004 – seven months before the Athens Olympics. (AP)