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Crown Cruise Vacations | December 6, 2023

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Volendam Temporary Home for Ukrainian Refugees Extended Through Sept. 14

Volendam Temporary Home for Ukrainian Refugees Extended Through Sept. 14
Jackie Sheckler Finch

The city of Rotterdam has extended its charter agreement for Holland America Line’s Volendam to house Ukrainian refugees through Sept. 14.

“We are sorry for the inconvenience this will cause to guests booked on Volendam through the summer,” Beth Bodensteiner, chief commercial officer of Holland American Line, said in a news release. “We appreciate their continued understanding as we work with the city of Rotterdam on this important mission.”

Volendam’s first scheduled voyage is a 14-day Holy Land & Ancient Kingdoms Explorer departing Venice, Italy, on Sept. 24, 2022.

The ship has been home to about 1,200 Ukrainians since docking in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in early April and will house up to 1,500 refugees through the extended charter, part of a larger commitment from the Netherlands to accommodate 50,000 people who fled the war in their homeland.

The government originally chartered the ship through the end of June but asked to extend for an additional 10 weeks. Under the agreement, Holland American Line is providing hot meals, private stateroom accommodations, housekeeping services, laundry, use of public spaces, fitness facilities, internet access and other necessities.

Volendam is staffed with about 650 crew members.

To allow for the continued charter mission, Holland American Line is cancelling an additional six departures on Volendam, including cruises to Norway, the British Isles and Mediterranean. Guests on cancelled cruises will automatically be rebooked on similar itineraries and do not need to contact Holland America Line, as the cruise line will reach out directly with options.

“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.”

Volendam is 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.

“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.”

Photo courtesy of Holland America Line

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