SEATTLE — Holland America Line’s Volendam has set sail for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Departing Trieste (Venice), Italy on Sept. 24, the ship set sail on a 14-day Holy Land and Ancient Kingdoms Explorer itinerary following a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the terminal. Prior to this, the ship spent the past six months in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, under charter to the City of Rotterdam to house Ukrainian families impacted by the war in Ukraine.
“This is a milestone day as Volendam embarks on its first full cruise since the industry-wide pause,” said Gus A ntorcha, president of Holland America Line. “We are thankful for the incredible work of the shipboard team these past six months, caring for Ukrainian families. As we get back to cruising, we are excited to welcome guests on Volendam for a series of longer voyages that include explorations of the Mediterranean, Amazon and South America.”
Following the Holy Land and Ancient Kingdoms cruise, the ship will sail 14-day itineraries to Greece, Turkey, Italy, Croatia and Montenegro. In late October, the ship will reposition to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to offer a 28-day Amazon Explorer voyage, followed by a series of Caribbean cruises. In January 2023, Volendam will depart on the 74-day Grand South America and Antarctica Voyage that circumnavigates the continent.
NEW SEARCH TOOL & VERIFLY UPDATE
Holland America Line, which recently relaxed health requirements on most voyages, has also launched a new Health Protocols Tool on its website to make it easy for passengers to determine which protocols are required for their cruise.
With the tool, booked guests can simply enter their booking number to bring up the exact vaccination and testing requirements for their voyage. All 2022 cruises are available, and 2023 departures will be loaded soon.
Earlier this month, the cruise line announced that for most voyages, vaccinated guests are no longer required to take a pre-cruise COVID-19 test to board, while unvaccinated guests can board with proof of a negative COVID-19 self-test. Exceptions remain for some destinations, including cruises to Canada, Alaska and Australia.
“We’ve had a great response as we’ve opened up cruising to more guests, but we recognize different destination-specific requirements can be confusing,” said Beth Bodensteiner, chief commercial officer for Holland America Line. “This search tool makes it simple for guests to know exactly what they need for embarkation.”
Also new, the VeriFLY app will now include the health requirements needed for each cruise. VeriFLY already speeds up the embarkation process by allowing users to preload proof of vaccination and testing information. Now, the app will also prompt guests for specific information needed for their cruise.