September 25, 2005


No-pier pressure
for Mike on liner

Politicians are famous for finding elaborate props to put in their election-year photo ops, but a 70,000-ton cruise ship?

That's what Mayor Bloomberg will be standing astride today when the city welcomes its first ocean liner, Oriana, to Red Hook, Brooklyn, where the city is planning a new passenger ship terminal.

The planned $47 million terminal isn't finished, and the next boat isn't due in Red Hook until April - well after this year's mayoral race - when the humongous Queen Mary 2 is scheduled to tie up.

But the city's Economic Development Corp. made an exception for the Oriana, city officials said, after realizing that all five of the city's piers on Manhattan's West Side were full this weekend.

Workers have been scurrying all week to put up temporary tents so that Bloomberg and the boat's 1,900 passengers will have a place to disembark.

"We are thrilled that our partners in the cruise industry have so much business to bring to New York City," said Bloomberg spokeswoman Jen Falk, who estimated that the ship's passengers could spend as much as $500,000 during their one day ashore.

The ship, which originated in Southampton, England, is then off to Boston, Maine and the Canadian coastline.

The city announced last spring that it had entered into an agreement with P&O Princess Cruises International, which owns the Oriana, to make the Red Hook pier its home in New York.

Noting the mayor's campaign race, one marine industry expert questioned the timing of the event, but praised the mayor for speedily getting the docks in ship shape.

"On one level, it could be seen as a photo op," said Carter Craft, director of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. "On another level, it could be seen as a feather in the mayor's hat, because they did the work fairly quickly."

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