Carnival-owned Holland America Line to house Ukrainian refugees in the Netherlands as part of an agreement with the City of Rotterdam. They will be accommodated onboard the Volendam cruise ship, which is currently not in service.
Volendam to House Ukrainian Refugees
The Volendam cruise ship, operated by Holland America Line, will be used to accommodate Ukrainian refugees in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The vessel will dock in the city for three months to temporarily hours 1,500 Ukrainians as part of an agreement with the city.
It’s part of a much broader commitment by the country to accommodate 50,000 people who have fled their home country in Ukraine since February 24, 2022.
“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,” said Gus Antorcha, president, Holland America Line. “Our company was founded in Rotterdam around the mission of helping immigrants find a better life. So today we’re proud to be a small part of a similar mission for Ukrainians who have tragically been displaced.”
Those on board the Holland America cruise ship temporarily will be provided three hot meals each day and stay in staterooms with housekeeping services. The refugees will be able to enjoy services from the ship, including the use of public spaces, fitness facilities, internet access, and other necessities.
“We are known for our service and hospitality, and our team is ready to welcome our new guests as we would welcome guests into our own home,” said Captain Ryan Whitaker. “It will truly be an honor for us to make Volendam a comfortable and caring environment for these families who have been through so much.”
Volendam will remain docked at the Merwehaven cargo port, located on the north side of the River Maas, to allow easy access to the city for those onboard.
Volendam’s Return to Service Delayed
With the Volendam being chartered to help Ukrainian refugees, it does mean that the ship will not return to service as scheduled. The Holland America ship was set to return on May 15, 2022, with voyages from Rotterdam to Norway, the British Isles and Iceland.
The ship will now be resuming passenger operations on July 3, 2022, instead of May 15. Impacted guests are being notified about their options and will be offered other sailings with similar itineraries.
“We are very sorry for the inconvenience this will cause to guests booked on the three canceled cruises,” Antorcha said. “We hope they understand the unprecedented nature of this situation and why we felt it was important to work with the government on this initiative in support of these families in need.”
The cruise line has been working to support those impacted by the situation in eastern Europe, including its crew members. There has been a $1 million fund to help assist and offer financial support for them. The crew from the region can also receive counseling assistance, free internet, and help with accommodation or a contract extension to remain on board longer.
“We stand for peace and our hearts go out to everyone whose lives have been upended by the invasion of Ukraine,” said Arnold Donald, president and chief executive officer of Carnival Corporation & plc. “We have crew members from 145 countries and we sail with guests from nations around the globe, so we feel deeply the impact of this humanitarian crisis and we join many others in supporting relief efforts.”
Parent company Carnival Corporation also recently announced that the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation pledged $3 million in donations to organizations helping Ukrainian refugees. Sister brand Carnival Cruise Line has also made a $50,000 donation to World Central Kitchen.