If any of your favorite cruise ships seem to have mysteriously disappeared from cruise line itineraries this month, don't worry. They are most likely one of approximately eight different vessels holed up in Piraeus, the port for Athens, where they'll serve as floating hotels throughout the 2004 Olympic Games.
The ships, which include Cunard's Queen Mary 2, Silversea's Silver Whisper and Silver Wind, and Holland America's Rotterdam and Oosterdam, will provide accommodation for VIPs and athletes. Queen Mary 2 has nabbed many high profile guests, such as French president Jacques Chirac and the U.S. men's basketball team. Former president George H. W. Bush is also staying onboard a ship, though the vessel has not been identified. One ship is actually housing tourists visiting the games -- that's Holland America's Westerdam.
Even as the cruise industry has embraced high levels of security no matter where ships sail, these vessels will be subjected to even more intense procedures, what a news report calls "war like security." This includes patrolling by elite commando forces, barbed wire fences with motion sensors, and detectors that can pick up radiological, biological or chemical matter.