Federal officials have turned down a plan to use cruise ships as emergency housing while Texas Gulf Coast residents recover from Hurricane Ike. A private contractor, however, has leased a ship from Imperial Majesty Cruise Line to house its employees, officials said.

The Royal Empress will likely remain in Galveston as housing for construction workers through the end of 2008, said Glenn Ryerson, Imperial Majesty’s vice president of marketing.

Medical students returning to college in the area may also seek rental space on the ship, said Michael Mierzwa, deputy port director in Galveston.

Texas State Representative Joe Deshotel said he and other legislators had asked FEMA to approve a plan to rent cruise ships for temporary housing in Galveston, Orange and Port Arthur, but FEMA officials told Cruise Industry News that the plan had been dropped Monday.

FEMA said hotels were reopening in Hurricane affected areas and land-based temporary housing was adequate.

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