News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Dale K. DuPont, The Miami Herald
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Nov. 26, 2003 - A cruise ship is roiling the waters around the Republican National Convention.
Seeing a business opportunity, Norwegian Cruise Line suggested one of its ships to house delegates to the meeting next summer in New York. The GOP leadership in Washington apparently thought the idea worth considering.
The mayor's office did not.
"We think it's unnecessary because we reserved 22,000 hotel rooms," said Ed Skyler, spokesman for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The 2,200-passenger Norwegian Dawn would cut into the city's hotel and restaurant business during the convention, from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.
"It's not something our host committee or the RNC Republican National Committee is working on at this point," Skyler said.
But it is something NCL would like resolved.
"We're in preliminary discussions right now," said Susan Robison, spokeswoman for the Miami-based cruise line. "We have to make a decision rather quickly."
Ships are being used more frequently for big events. Jacksonville, for example, lined up five to meet the National Football League's requirement for quality hotel rooms for Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005. Cruise ships also are to be used as housing at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
The Dawn sails year round from New York with stops in Miami, the Bahamas and Port Canaveral. If the ship were to be chartered, NCL would offer passengers a different trip or a refund.
NCL approached the Democrats as well about using a ship during their 2004 convention in Boston, from July 26 to 29.
"We're not planning on using a cruise ship during the convention," said Lina Garcia, a Democratic National Committee spokeswoman.
The Republican's plans aren't so clear.
"We have no comment," said Rori Smith, spokeswoman for the GOP convention committee.
She and others referred calls to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, one of the members of Congress NCL approached. A DeLay press aide did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Skyler said the mayor's office found out about the proposal from Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper that wrote that the ship would serve as exclusive lodging for lawmakers and lobbyists.
GOP Rep. Vito Fossella, whose district includes part of the city, was another congressmen approached about the ship. Spokesman Craig Donner said Fossella thought it "an intriguing idea."
Fossella has been approached with a number of different ideas, Donner said, but he's not endorsing the ship proposal.
"Vito wants convention attendees to have a great time in New York and local business to reap economic benefits," Donner said.
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