Cruise ships set for security in 2010 Games

Tue Apr 21, 2009 7:45pm EDT
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canadian police have struck a C$76 million ($61 million) deal with two units of cruise line operator Carnival Corp to house security personnel during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

Carnival's Holland America and Carnival Cruise Lines units will supply a total of three ships to serve as floating hotels in Vancouver harbor during the Winter Olympics and Paralympics, according to police officials.

Police decided to use cruise ships for temporary housing and food service because of a shortage of regular hotels during the Games, and say the docked vessels will also give them easy access to the venues needing protection.

Planners have said up to 7,000 police officers from across Canada may be brought to Vancouver as part of C$900 million security plan that will also include military personnel and 4,000 private security guards.

Police say the heavy level of security is needed for the international event even though the threat level is considered to be low. The budget is largely paid for by the Canadian federal government.

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Integrated Security Leader had initially awarded the cruise ship contract to a private U.S. firm, Cruise Connections, but that C$55 million contract fell apart and is now the subject of a lawsuit.

Cruise Connections filed suit after the contract was canceled, alleging police backed out of the deal because they thought they could get a better price for ship accommodations because of the weak global economy.

Police have alleged it was Cruise Connections that tried to scuttle the deal for an unspecified number of ships because the weakening of the Canadian dollar had eroded its profit margin.

The Winter Olympics will be held in February 2010, followed by the Winter Paralympics for athletes with disabilities.

($1 = $1.24 Canadian)

(Reporting Allan Dowd, Editing by Phil Berlowitz)