A cruise ship that was to serve as a floating hotel in the port of Vancouver during the Olympics will not be showing up, leaving hundreds of tourists high and dry.
The Edmonton company behind the scheme, Newwest Special Projects, ran into financial problems as it faced increasing expenses and failed to book a sufficient number of staterooms and cabins aboard The Norwegian Star.
The cruise ship – which can hold up to 2,200 guests – was set to sail out of Los Angeles this week and dock in North Vancouver a few days later.
Among those now forced to find last-minute accommodation were representatives for 13 terminally ill children who were booked aboard the vessel by Make-A-Wish Foundations in Canada, the U.S. and Australia.
"I have been told … that it has officially been cancelled," said Ross Hetherington, executive director of the foundation's B.C. and Yukon chapter.
"The cruise ship is not coming here for the Olympics."
Hetherington said his organization is trying to find alternative places for the children to stay.
Newwest cut prices in half in September and cut them further in January in an attempt to stimulate bookings. All-inclusive packages — meals and accommodation — were going for as low as $275 a night.
Original prices went as high as $700 US per night per person.
Travel industry experts said it would cost at least $10 million to charter a cruise ship of that size for the duration of the Olympics.
Complicating the plan for the Norwegian Star was a lack of berths at Vancouver cruise ship terminals downtown. The company had to arrange to dock the vessel at an industrial terminal across Burrard Inlet, which required expensive upgrades for use by a passenger ship and would have presented passengers with a minimum 30-minute trip to Vancouver Olympic venues.