Holland America Line ship to shelter Ukrainian refugees
By Katie McGonagle | 1 Apr 2022
Volendam will house up to 1,500 Ukrainian refugees in the Netherlands
Holland America Line has put its ship, Volendam, forward to provide a temporary home for families fleeing from the conflict in Ukraine.
As part of an agreement with the Netherlands government and City of Rotterdam officials, the ship will dock in the Dutch city for three months to house and feed up to 1,500 people.
Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line, said: “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.
“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.”
The arrangement forms part of the Dutch government’s commitment to house 50,000 people from Ukraine. The ship will be staffed with around 650 crew members providing three meals a day, private stateroom accommodation, housekeeping, use of public spaces, internet access and other necessities.
Volendam’s captain, Ryan Whitaker, said: “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. It will truly be an honour for us to make Volendam a comfortable and caring environment for these families who have been through so much.”
Volendam had been scheduled to resume sailings on May 15 with cruises from Rotterdam to Norway, the British Isles and Iceland. The line has cancelled three of those voyages, with guests to be offered similar itineraries, and will instead bring the ship back into service on July 3.
Antorcha said: “We are very sorry for the inconvenience this will cause to guests booked on the three cancelled cruises. 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 company has also launched a $1 million emergency assistance fund for Ukrainian staff, along with free counselling, free internet services and help with accommodation.