U.S. Basketball Teams Sleep on Cruise Ship During Rio Games

By ,   April 10, 2016 ,   Cruise Industry

The U.S. men's and women's basketball teams will be staying on a cruise ship in Rio de Janeiro's renovated port area during the Olympics (Aug 5-21). A second and much bigger liner will be anchored alongside during the games and provide lodging for the "Olympic Family."

USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo previously told ESPN's Marc Stein that Team USA planned to house its players on a cruise ship to ensure maximum security. The NBA is also expected to set up a "hospitality house" in the port area.

The ship housing the basketball players will be the relatively small Silver Cloud operated by Silversea Cruises.

The company lists the ship's capacity at 296. Its last cruise is in the Mediterranean in June before heading for the Olympics.

Craig Miller, a spokesman for USA Basketball, the national governing body, declined to confirm where the two basketball teams would stay. He listed security as a reason for not disclosing the location, but he said the men's team stopped staying in the Olympic Village beginning with the 1992 Olympics - the first appearance of "The Dream Team."

Rio's new port area, centered on Praca Maua, is the most visible sign of change that Olympic organizers promised to bring to Rio. The centerpiece at the port is the Museum of Tomorrow, a science museum designed by the futuristic architect Santiago Calatrava.

The port is situated on heavily polluted Guanabara Bay, which will host Olympic sailing. Sadly, it's a reminder of a broken promise by organizers to cleanse the fetid waters.

Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes said Thursday, referring to Olympic bid pledges to drastically cut the amount of raw sewage flowing into the bay.

The port area is remote from the basketball venues at the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca and the northern cluster in Deodoro, where some women's games will be played. Travel could take more than an hour depending on traffic, a problem that should be improved when the Olympic lanes - set aside only for Olympic traffic - start operating in late July.

The NBA is also expected to run a hospitality venue in the port, probably in one of the abandoned warehouses that have been used for exhibitions by companies like Nike.

An NBA spokeswoman declined to specify the plans, saying they would be released shortly.

The "Olympic Family" will stay on the cruise ship Norwegian Getaway operated by Norwegian Cruise Lines. The company listed the capacity at 4,000 guests and tonnage of 145,655. It's one of the world's largest cruise ships.

Rio organizers confirmed the ship's presence. They said 90 percent of the ship would be reserved for the "Olympic Family," a term that takes in sponsors, national Olympic committees, sports federations and other guests of the Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee.

Rio officials said the remaining 10 percent of the cabins would be sold in tour packages by the Brazilian operator Tam Viagens.