Holland America Line has reached out to passengers booked on fall sailings aboard MS Volendam to confirm that the ship will end its charter with the Netherlands and the city of Rotterdam and return to cruise travel service in mid-September. The Rotterdam-class ship has been chartered to house Ukrainian refugees since early April.
Charter to End, Ship Returning to Service
In a letter sent to upcoming passengers, Holland America Line has confirmed that Volendam will be returning to passenger travel for its schedule of fall sailings after having served in such an honorable and humanitarian position as housing refugees.
The letter reads, “It has been an important and commendable mission for the government, and we have been proud to play even a small role in helping these families who have been through so much.”
The charter service will end September 14, 2022, after which the ship will be repositioned to Italy for its planned voyages from Venice.
“We have confirmed that the charter will end September 14, 2022,” the letter, signed by Holland America Line president Gun Antorcha, said. “In the 10 days following the charter’s completion, we will reposition the ship to Italy where Volendam will be readied to welcome cruising guests once again.”
It is likely the ship will spend a few days after repositioning being cleaned and refreshed, as well as restocked as a cruise vessel rather than for emergency assistance. No further voyages are planned to be canceled or delayed, however.
Guests booked on sailings from September 24, 2022 onward do not need to reconfirm their cruise status with the line, as the voyages are planned to move ahead as scheduled.
As Volendam sets sail with passengers again, this will complete Holland America Line’s full return to service with all ships once more welcoming cruise guests.
Service for Refugees
MS Volendam has been housing refugee families from Ukraine since April 6, and has provided stability for approximately 1,500 refugees since the charter began. The original charter was slated to end at the end of June, but was extended a further 10 weeks.
This delayed the ship’s planned return to service, which was to have been July 3.
At the time the charter was originally announced, Antorcha related this humanitarian mission back to the cruise line’s founding.
“We are in a unique position to accommodate the immediate need for food and housing, so we felt it was very important to work with the City of Rotterdam and charter this ship. Our company was founded in Rotterdam around the mission of helping immigrants find a better life,” Antorcha said. “Today we’re proud to be a small part of a similar mission for Ukrainians who have tragically been displaced.”
As part of the terms of the charter, the cruise line provided hot meals, private stateroom accommodations, housekeeping, laundry, public spaces, fitness facilities, internet access, and other services to those on board. Healthcare and schooling for children were also provided.
Volendam‘s crew members worked aboard the ship, and were assisted by social workers and other groups trained in refugee service.
First Cruise to Set Sail in September
The first passenger sailing of Volendam will now be September 24, a Holy Land and Ancient Kingdoms exploration roundtrip from Venice. The ship will spend several weeks in the Mediterranean, before departing on November 5 for Fort Lauderdale.
MS Volendam will spend the winter sailing in the Caribbean, offering distinctive itineraries that include the Panama Canal, South America, and even Antarctica.
Of special interest is the lengthy, 74-night “Grand South America Antarctica Voyage” setting sail from Fort Lauderdale on January 3, calling on an amazing array of more than 30 ports of call in the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and more.
In May 2023, the ship will reposition to Vancouver, Canada, to join the Alaskan season.