New York mayor declines cruise-ship offer for Sandy victims

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A boat broker from Denmark wants New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to sign off on a proposal to convert two luxury liners berthed off the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn into floating hotels for Hurricane Sandy refugees.

John McCarthy, a marine consultant working with Frilow Ship Sales of Copenhagen, says the amenities-heavy boats could easily house more than 2,400 Sandy victims — and cost the federal government $100 a person per day — but he says Bloomberg has turned down the offer, according to The Brooklyn Paper.

“These people deserve a break,” McCarthy told the publication. “So what if it’s a little luxury for a few months?”

For about $3,000 a month cruise ship refugees could enjoy catered meals, accommodations and maid service to make the bed and clean up the room, according to McCarthy.

He wouldn’t identify the super ships expected to be used until Bloomberg approved the plan, but explained that one of the two vessels has an indoor and outdoor pool, seven bars, two restaurants, a video game room, a 500-seat theater, a casino, a nightclub and a disco.

The two ships are docked in Europe and are ready to steam across the Atlantic because the cruise-line industry always has a lull in business at this time of year, he said.

Calls to the mayor’s office about McCarthy’s cruise liner proposal were not returned, but the broker was told through an intermediary that Bloomberg feared the city would set sail onto a sea of criticism that drowned New Orleans politicians when the federal government spent $236 million to reserve 10,000 staterooms for Hurricane Katrina refugees on three Carnival cruise ships that were left mostly empty. Those who did live on the boats were allowed to run amok, critics say.

McCarthy said his cruise ships would be a lot cheaper than Carnival — about $16 million a boat, not including fuel and other travel costs. But Brad Gair, who Bloomberg appointed housing recovery chief after Sandy, has shot down the idea of putting superstorm victims on cruise ships.

If the plan comes to pass, storm survivors wouldn’t be the only ones living on boats in the aftermath of the storm. More than 800 federal Sandy recovery workers are living on three retrofitted cargo ships in New York harbor, one of which can be found docked off Staten Island.

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