Leaders of the world’s most powerful countries will be boarding a cruise ship this summer. The Italian government, hosting the G8 summit at La Maddalena off the coast of Sardinia, has hired the MSC ship Fantasia to provide accommodation.
And it’s not just because of the luxurious suites in the ship’s VIP Yacht Club, where Gordon Brown could be rubbing shoulders with President Obama.
Use of the Fantasia is part of a G8 commitment to a zero environmental impact summit. Security will be another factor, as the annual get-togethers invariably attract protests, sometimes violent.
An idea of the likely problems will be provided by the G20 summit, to be held in London next month to discuss the global financial crisis.
The G8 meeting from July 8 to 10, involving the United States, UK, Russia, Germany, Japan, Italy, France and Canada, will address problems of climate change and world poverty.
La Maddelena is an archipelago of 60 islands off the north-east coast of Sardinia, most of them uninhabited.
The MSC Fantasia, flagship of the Italian line’s fleet, was named by Sophia Loren in December 2008. The 133,500-ton vessel normally carries up to 3,959 passengers and 1,325 crew.
The Yacht Club consists of 99 spacious suites, and the passengers have access to their own exclusive bar, solarium and pool. There is one butler to every five suites, although I would imagine the world’s leaders – and their wives – will be bringing their own personal staff.
And the chances of a picture of Brown and Obama sharing a Jacuzzi being zapped around the world in July? About as slim as the summit coming up with a definitive answer to the world’s problems, I’d say.