Holland America Line ship to become home for Ukrainian refugees

Holland America Line ship to become home for Ukrainian refugees

Holland America Line’s Volendam will be used to accommodate up to 1,500 Ukrainian refugees.

The ship will dock in Rotterdam for three months to provide a temporary home for the refugees as part of the Netherlands’ commitment to accommodate 50,000 people who have fled the war in their homeland.

Gus Antorcha, president, 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.”

He added: “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.”

Holland America Line will provide the refugees with three hot meals per day, private stateroom accommodation, housekeeping services, use of public spaces, fitness facilities, and internet access. Volendam will be staffed with around 650 crew members.

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 was scheduled to return to service on May 15 with voyages from Rotterdam to Norway, the British Isles and Iceland. In order to house the refugees, Holland America Line will cancel three of these voyages and resume service on July 3 instead. Guests on cancelled cruises have been notified and will be accommodated on similar itineraries.

“We are very sorry for the inconvenience this will cause to guests booked on the three cancelled 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.”

Holland America Group has already been working with its own Ukrainian team members by providing financial assistance, counselling support, free internet service to communicate with family, and help with accommodation 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 pledged $3 million to charities helping Ukrainian refugees.

“We stand for peace and our hearts go out to everyone whose lives have been upended by the invasion of Ukraine,” said Arnold Donald, president and chief executive officer of Carnival Corporation & plc. “We have crew members from 145 countries and we sail with guests from nations around the globe, so we feel deeply the impact of this humanitarian crisis and we join many others in supporting relief efforts.”


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