Holland America Line’s Volendam will be used to house Ukrainian refugees as part of a deal announced by officials from the Dutch government and the city of Rotterdam. The ship will dock in Rotterdam for three months to provide a temporary home for some 1,500 Ukrainians, as part of a larger commitment by the Netherlands to shelter 50,000 people who have fled the war in their country.
“We are in a unique position to address the immediate need for food and accommodation, which is why it was very important for us to collaborate with the city of Rotterdam and charter this ship,” said Gus Torch, president of Holland America Line. “Our company was founded in Rotterdam around the mission of helping immigrants find a better life. So today we are proud to be a small part of a similar mission for Ukrainians who have been tragically displaced.”
Holland America Line will provide three hot meals a day, private cabin accommodations, cleaning services, use of public spaces, fitness facilities, Internet access and other necessities. The Volendam will have about 650 crew members.
“We are known for our service and hospitality, and our team is ready to welcome our new guests as we would in our own home,” said Captain Ryan Whitaker. “It will be a real honor for us to make the Volendam a comfortable and caring environment for these families who have been through so much.”
The Volendam was scheduled to return to service on May 15, with voyages from Rotterdam to Norway, the British Isles and Iceland. To accommodate the three-month commitment, Holland America Line will cancel three of those voyages and resume service on July 3 instead. Guests on canceled cruises are being notified and will be accommodated on similar itineraries.
“We are very sorry for the inconvenience this will cause guests booked on the three canceled cruises,” Torch said. “We hope they understand the unprecedented nature of this situation and why it was important for us to work with the government on this initiative to support these families in need.”
The Volendam will be docked at Merwehaven, a cargo port located on the north bank of the Maas River in Rotterdam. Staying docked will ensure that Ukrainian families can easily transit to and from Rotterdam services.
Holland America Group has already been working with members of its own team who are Ukrainian. A $1 million emergency relief fund provides direct financial support.