GENOA, Italy (AP) The decks have been scrubbed, the hold filled, the silverware polished. The luxury cruise ship European Vision is becoming the ultimate ship of state.
Anchored in the port of this northern Italian city, the 251-yard ship will serve as a floating hotel for seven of the eight leaders at their annual summit. Only President Bush opted for terra firma; hell stay in a pink hotel along the harbor.
During the three-day summit beginning Friday, the leaders will be able to taste 170 different kinds of cheese and 54 kinds of bread. They also may pick from a selection of 7,000 bottles of wine, coming from countries as diverse as France and Australia. Genoas culinary treasure, the basil-based pesto sauce, will also be at hand, with the first 11 pounds already being prepared.
Some delegations made special requests. The Japanese some of them here ahead of their premiers arrival wanted spaghetti with clams, said an official with the Festival Cruises Italia.
With the first leader Japans Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi arriving before the end of the day, the summit host, Premier Silvio Berlusconi, made a quick tour of the European Vision soon after he arrived in town Thursday to make sure everything was in order.
The Italian premier, too, will be staying on the ship, while part of the delegations and some journalists have been housed on two smaller ships a way to get around Genoas shortage of the luxury hotels that such a summit normally requires.
Aboard the European Vision, each leader will have a suite with a private balcony overlooking the old harbor, which has undergone massive restructuring in the last decade and has been revamped ahead of the summit. Where possible, some walls dividing two rooms have been torn down to make more space.
Different shades of gray, light blue and green dominate the tapestries and curtains in the bedrooms, said the Italian branch of Festival Cruises, which owns the European Vision. The company is owned by Greek shipping tycoon Georges Poulides.
On loan from private collections, 19th century paintings featuring maritime landscapes have been hung in the studios. The high-tech living rooms feature satellite TVs and DVDs.
The ship, which can house up to 1,500 people plus a 700-member crew, also features four restaurants, seven bars, some of which have been turned into meeting rooms for the summit, a casino, a cigar room and just about any other comfort.
If any of the leaders are in the mood for exercise, there are two swimming pools and two hydromassage pools, a thermal suite featuring sauna and steam treatments, a gym, a basketball court, a 25-foot climbing wall and even a golf simulator.
Bushs hotel, a low-rise building painted in hot pink, offers far fewer amenities. He can watch in-room movies, get a haircut, and a complimentary newspaper.
Italian Foreign Ministry officials said the U.S. delegation chose the hotel over the ship for security concerns.
The European Vision, however, is under massive security itself. In the past days, every corner has been searched by special police units and closed-circuit cameras have been set up. While coast guard officials refused to discuss security details, Italian press reports said that a contingent of 500 policemen will be onboard during the summit.
The harbor is part of the red zone, the area that has been cordoned off as part of a massive security plan to prevent violence during the summit, which is attracting thousands of anti-globalization protesters. The port will be closed to vessels and swimmers until Sunday, when the meeting ends.
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