The Pentagon said Friday it has leased a cruise ship to provide rest and relaxation breaks - and drinks - to participants in Operation Desert Shield.

The first troops will be aboard the Cunard Princess before Christmas, enjoying a pool, health and fitness facilities, television, telephones and, according to a Pentagon press release, "a variety of entertainment and relaxation opportunities."The ship will provide alcoholic beverages, something unavailable to the troops in Saudi Arabia. Soldiers, sailors, air troops and Marines will have to pay for their drinks but everything else is free.

About 800 troops at a time will be able to take the two- and three-night breaks from the the desert aboard the 564-foot-long ship. They can take tours and go shopping both aboard the ship and at Bahrain where it will be docked.

The Army, which is renting the ship for $31 million for six months, also is seeking to lease up to three more vessels for use by the troops, hoping to provide as many R&R spots as possible.

However, because of the huge numbers of personnel in the region - about 430,000 are expected by mid-January - it would take quite some time for many troops to get a chance to relax on one of the ships.