One of the two American tour companies sanctioned to offer official
packages to the Athens Olympic Games said it expects to sell 3,000
tours both through travel agents and directly by the start of the
Games in August.
While this would be a slight decrease from the 4,000 people
Cartan Tours sent to the 2000 Sydney Games, the company is gearing
up now for a buildup of interest by American travelers as the
lighting of the flame approaches.
The Athens 2004 organizing committee has brought nearly every
hotel in Athens into an official reservations system, bookable only
through sanctioned agents. There will also be cruise ships anchored
in the port of Piraeus, housing thousands more visitors, and
private homes for rent.
CoSport’s least expensive package includes four nights in the
modest Hotel Achilles and four event tickets. Not including air, it
costs about $4,000 per person. (CoSport quotes prices in Euro.)
Tours are commissionable. CoSport only offers tickets in
conjunction with packages.
Cartan’s least expensive package, a six-night, air-inclusive
program that sold for $4,989 per person, is now sold out. But the
company has added a three-night stay option, meals included, on the
Olympia Explorer cruise ship that will likely be docked in Athens
(see sidebar). Adding this to any longer itinerary costs $2,869 per
person. Cartan, which is authorized to sell individual tickets to
any American, pays commission on everything except event
A just-announced product allows clients to arrive in Athens for
the Olympics the retro-super-stylish way. The Queen Mary 2 is one
of the ships being docked in Athens during the Games. Cartan is
offering a 14-day Jewels of the Mediterranean package which starts
Aug. 2 and includes 11 days of sailing on the QM2 from Southampton,
England, to Greece, with stops in Spain, Gibraltar, Florence and
Rome, and three days accommodation in Athens on the Olympia
Explorer for the beginning of the Olympics. The trip starts at
$6,851 per person, not including event tickets.
The biggest problem travelwise at these Olympics is that
residents of the city with houses to rent are trying to price
gouge, turning off many would-be visitors.
“The owners are giving prices like they think they are going to
become millionaires,” said Stavros Douvis, owner of New York-based
Anemos Tours, which is selling commissionable packages that include
accommodation in private homes. “By July, I expect there will be
many leftovers and they will be calling me.”
He said he has been flooded with requests for Olympics travel
information from clients, but that sales are slow.
“People are looking for bargains,” he said.
One potential nightmare for the Games is the cancellation of
thousands of reservations for stays on two cruise ships in
The ship-owning arm of Royal Olympic cruises has been in
bankruptcy proceedings and on Jan. 16 announced it has agreed to
sell the Olympia Explorer and Olympia Voyager to satisfy
Royal Olympic spokesman Mike Hanson told TravelAge West, “If the
bank or anyone else takes possession of the vessels, Royal Olympic
will discuss how to meet the commitments going forward, but
especially the Olympic Games.”
He stressed however, that until the ships are sold, nothing is
“I would be really surprised if those ships weren’t involved (in
the Olympics), but I can’t be sure until it goes through that