Holland America Line has announced that its ship Volendam will be used to house Ukrainian refugees as part of an agreement announced by Netherlands and the City of Rotterdam government officials.
The vessel will dock in Rotterdam for three months to provide a temporary home for around 1,500 Ukrainians — part of a larger commitment from the Netherlands to accommodate 50,000 people who fled the war in Ukraine.
“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.”
Under the charter agreement, Holland America will provide three hot meals per day, private cabin accommodations, housekeeping services, use of public spaces, fitness facilities, internet access, and other necessities. Volendam will be staffed by approximately 650 crew members.
The ship was previously scheduled to return to service on May 15, with sailings from Rotterdam to Norway, the British Isles, and Iceland.
To accommodate this three month commitment, three of those sailings will be canceled and Volendam will return to passenger service on July 3 instead. Those who were booked on those cruises are being notified today, and will be accommodated on 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.”
Volendam will be docked at Merwehaven, a cargo port on the north side of the River Maas in Rotterdam. It will remain docked there for the three months.
Holland America Group has already been working with its own Ukrainian team members, and has set up a $1 million emergency assistance fund that provides them direct financial support. Team members from the region also receive counseling assistance, free internet, and scheduling accommodations such as early disembarkation or an extension to remain on board as needed.