7 Cruise Ships and one yacht are currently docked in support of the XXII Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The Games officially open tomorrow February 7th, 2014 and run through February 23rd, 2014. The Norwegian Jade
, Princess Anastasia, Princess Maria and Svan Toscana are currently docked in the Port of Sochi
. The Grand Holiday
, Louis Olympia
, Thomson Spirit
and the Tatoosh yacht (owned by Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft) are currently docked in the Port of Adler
, the southernmost district of Sochi.
These ships have been chartered by FSUE Rosmoport (a transportation agency for the Russian Federation) and are being used as floating hotels, restaurants and entertainment centers. These ships will accommodate not only Olympic guests but also by participants in the XXII Winter Olympic Games and the XI Paralympic Games going on simultaneously in Sochi. The need for the additional ships has been planned now for just over a year after continued construction delays and concerns over numerous facilities in the region not being completed in time. The cruise ships are expected to house an estimated 12,000 visitors to the region over the two weeks of the Games.
Although construction delays and security concerns are issues for every Olympic Games, these Games in particular seemed to have been plagued with more than their fair share of problems. Recent upheaval in the region has also left many concerned. Many guests and participants have chosen to stay on the Cruise Ships as an additional precaution and security measure.
Recent reports in the past few days (less than 72 hours prior to the official opening of the Games) have revealed only six of nine media hotels in the region are finished, and work is still underway at the Olympic Village and many of the venue sites.
Russian President Vladimir Putin set an Olympic record by pumping nearly $55 billion (USD) into these Olympic Games in hopes that tourism to the region will continue long after the Olympic Games have concluded. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) reports much of that money has gone to embezzlement and they are not sure how much has actually gone towards the Games themselves.
At least some of the 55 billion (USD) was used in upgrading the port facilities to handle the increased cargo needs for construction prior to the Olympics. These cargo docks now support the facilities needed by the cruise ships for the duration of the Games. After the games conclude much of the cargo port area is planned to be converted into a yacht marina in hopes of serving tourists to the region for years to come.
Concerns by the local government and public in Sochi have been voiced over the money that will be required to maintain the Olympic facilities after the games. It is estimated that the costs could run nearly $2 billion (USD) a year just to maintain the facilities. This is a number which has many concerned cannot be covered by tourism alone.
Every Olympics has their share of issues but it seems that Sochi is on a nightmarish scale all their own. Here is to hoping that, at the least, these Games will be safe for all those involved.
Additional Links: Port Cameras in and around Sochi, Russia