braemar.jpgA cruise ship has been chartered to provide accommodation for key workers at the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games this summer. Fred Olsen’s Braemar will be berthed in East London for a period of 34 days, from July 12 to August 15.
It will be a temporary home-from-home for about 900 workers, mostly those involved in transporting competitors and officials around the Games venues and those employed in the transport depots. The ship is expected to be tied up at Albert Dock or King George V Dock, close to London City airport and near the ExCel centre which is the venue for the Olympic boxing, fencing, taekwondo, table tennis, weightlifting and wrestling events.
Three cruises have had to be cancelled to fulfil the Olympic charter and the schedules of four more are affected. A Fred. Olsen spokesperson told me: “Guests whose existing bookings are affected will be offered an alternative cruise, together with a goodwill gesture to acknowledge the inconvenience this may cause. Guests who choose not to take up this offer will be given a full refund.”
Negotiations for the charter have been under way for some time, since LOCOG (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games) realised towards the end of 2011 that they needed to find additional accommodation.
Braemar, built in 1993 and originally the Crown Dynasty, was extended by the insertion of a 102-ft hull section in 2008 and is now capable of carrying 929 passengers, with a crew of 370. Olympics workers will use the cabins and restaurants, but will not have access to the vessel’s two outdoor pools, theatre or nightclubs.
To accommodate the charter, Braemar’s eight-night cruise from Dover to the fjords has been replaced by the 15-night voyage to North Cape and Spitsbergen originally due to depart on July 5. Out goes a 15-night cruise to the Western Mediterranean, and the 14-night Baltic cruise originally scheduled for August 4 will now depart on August 15, followed by a nine-night Norway cruise on August 29.
A three-night mini-break to Ostend and Amsterdam, and an eight-night voyage to Portugal and Spain disappear from the schedule. Fred Olsen and travel agents are currently contacting all passengers whose holidays have been affected.
There had earlier been speculation that cruise ships would be chartered to provide hotel accommodation for Olympic spectators in London and at Weymouth and Portland, where the sailing events will be held, but no agreements have been reached.
The German Olympic Committee has, however, chartered MS Deutschland, which will be berthed at South Quay, in the shadow of Canary Wharf’s skyscraper office blocks.