A luxury liner called "The European Vision" which will act as a floating hotel
for leaders of the world's top industrialized nations next month docked in Genoa on Wednesday. With the exception of President George W. Bush and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, all Group of Eight (G8) leaders will have a berth on the 58,500 ton cruise liner during their July 20-22 summit.
This means Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of Japan, Germany, France, Britain and Canada will be accommodated on "The European Vision" said to have been hired by the Italian government at a cost of 6.5 billion lire ($2.89 million).
The 14-deck vessel, only completed by France's Chantiers de l'Atlantique last month, will be transformed into a bunker for the summit, many of its 783 cabins being enlarged into state rooms for its G8 guests and their delegations.
Italian media said authorities believe the liner will allow them to provide better security for the G8 leaders than if they were scattered among hotels in the town.
Italy expects tens of thousands of demonstrators to descend on the Mediterranean port city and police, mindful of the violence that marked the European Union summit in the Swedish port of Gothenburg earlier this month, are planning for possible disturbances. A gala showbiz evening was planned for Wednesday night to mark the formal handing over of the ship's Italian flag of registry. The vessel will then embark on a seven-day Aegean cruise before returning to Genoa for the G8 summit. - (Reuters)