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Three ships to house 2010 Olympics security staff in new $76 million deal

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VANCOUVER, B.C. - A new plan is in place to house police and soldiers on cruise ships during the 2010 Games.

Holland America Line Inc. of Seattle and Carnival Cruise Line of Miami will provide three cruise ships at a cost of $76 million, the Integrated Security Unit for the Games announced Tuesday.

It's the second deal the RCMP-led ISU has signed for cruise ships - the first one fell apart last year and is now the subject of a lawsuit in the U.S.

A spokeswoman for the ISU said the two deals can't be compared because requirements for accommodating Olympic security personnel have changed.

"We needed additional bed requirements for our security workforce which includes now Canadian Forces personnel," said Cpl. Jen Allan of the ISU.

The ISU says the first contract for ships, signed with Cruise Connection Charter Management, was for two vessels and didn't include beds for the military.

But the first contract has been filed in court in connection with the lawsuit and it states the deal was for three ships and would involve the military.

According to that contract, one ship was to be provided by Holland America and two by Carnival through Cruise Connections.

The ISU said other cost factors of the deal had changed but couldn't specify exactly why the contract increased by $19 million.

They refused to comment further citing the ongoing lawsuit.

The new contract now sees Holland America providing two of the three ships, which will hold 3,000 people altogether, said a spokesman for the company. The Statendam usually sails the Panama Canal during the winter months while the Oosterdam usually cruises in Mexico.

Both ships will return to their regular routes after the Games.

"We're excited about working with the group and think it's going to contribute to the Olympics," said Erik Elvejord, the director of public relations for Holland America.

The original contractor, Cruise Connections Charter Management, alleges the RCMP-led security team broke the $57 million deal in order to seek a better price during the economic downturn.

The ISU has since sought to have the case dismissed on the grounds they can't be sued in the United States, according to documents filed in a Washington, D.C. court.

Allan said the new deal is more extensive than the original plan, and difficult to compare.

"They are just two completely different contracts now," she said.

The budget for the ships comes out of the overall Olympic security budget of $900 million.

The ships will provide around-the-clock service to ISU staff, including meals.

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