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Olympic security sign $76 million cruise ship deal

Ships provide bulk of accommodation needed in Vancouver

Olympic security officials have signed a $76 million deal to bring three cruise ships to Vancouver for the 2010 Games.

The two Holland America ships and a cruise liner from Carnival will dock at Ballantyne Pier from January to March 2010.

Up to 5,300 security personnel will stay on the ships, which have been identified by the cruise ship operators as the ms Statendam, the ms Oosterdam and the Carnival Elation.

The ships have many amenities including multiple restaurants, pools, a casino, and a nine-hole golf course.

But, said the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit's (ISU) Cpl Jen Allan: "There are not going to be chocolates on the pillows.

"This is for basic accommodation - what we would find in an average hotel."

ISU has been looking for cruise ship accommodation for a year. It had awarded the contract to a private U.S. firm, Cruise Connections, but that $37.4 million contract fell apart and is now the subject of a lawsuit.

In explaining why the initial contract was for half the amount of money as this one Allan said the first was only for two cruise ships.

"We won't draw comparisons with the initial contract," she said.

"What we can say is that the requirements are different from the previous  (Request for Proposal). The new contract is supplying additional bed requirements and also there was some differences in cost structure and this is actually for three vessels."

Security officials 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.

The contract funding will come out of the global $900 million security budget.

The ships will offer a significant component of the accommodation plan in Vancouver but, said Allan, the ISU will continue to look at its needs.

"We could potentially issue an additional RFP for accommodation in the future," she said.

"But this definitely is a significant part of our accommodation plan for the Vancouver area."