Holland America ship temporary home for Ukrainian refugees in Netherlands
Holland America Line’s Volendam will accommodate Ukrainian refugees as part of an agreement by Netherlands and City of Rotterdam government officials.
The ship will dock in Rotterdam for three months to provide a temporary home for about 1,500 Ukrainians, part of a larger commitment from the Netherlands to accommodate 50,000 people who have fled the war in their homeland.
“We are in a unique position to accommodate the immediate need for food and housing,” Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line, said in a news release. “We felt it was very important to work with the City of Rotterdam and charter this ship.”
Under the agreement, Holland America Line will provide three hot meals per day, private stateroom accommodations, housekeeping services, use of public spaces, fitness facilities, internet access, and other necessities.
“Our company was founded in Rotterdam around the mission of helping immigrants find a better life,” Antorcha said. “So today we’re proud to be a small part of a similar mission for Ukrainians who have tragically been displaced.”
Volendam will be docked at Merwehaven, a cargo port on the north side of the River Maas in Rotterdam. Remaining docked will ensure Ukrainian families can transit easily to and from services in Rotterdam.
The ship will be staffed with 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 welcome guests into our own home,” Captain Ryan Whitaker said in a news release. “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 was originally scheduled to return to service 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 these voyages and resume service on July 3 instead.
Guests on cancelled cruises are being notified and will be accommodated on similar itineraries.
Holland America Group has already been working with its own team members who are Ukrainian. A $1 million emergency assistance fund provides direct financial support.
Team members from the region also receive counseling assistance, free internet service to communicate with family, and scheduling accommodations such as early disembarkation or an extension to remain on board as needed.
The family foundation of parent company Carnival Corporation’s chairman Micky Arison and his wife Madeleine also announced a pledge of $3 million to charities helping Ukrainian refugees.
In addition, Holland America Line will look to raise awareness and funds through its On Deck for a Cause program, in which guests on every cruise may take part in a non-competitive 5K fundraising walk. The money raised will go to Direct Relief.
“We stand for peace and our hearts go out to everyone whose lives have been upended by the invasion of Ukraine,” Arnold Donald, president and chief executive officer of Carnival Corporation, said in a news release.
“We have crew members from 145 counties and we sail with guests from nations around the globe,” Donald said. “So we feel deeply the impact of this humanitarian crisis and we join many others in supporting relief efforts.”
Photo courtesy of Holland America Line
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