ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS — Holland America Line is lending its support to Ukrainian refugees by providing temporary housing onboard the Volendam.
Approximately 1,500 Ukrainians will be given shelter as part of an agreement announced by Netherlands and the City of Rotterdam government officials to accommodate 50,000 people who have fled the war in Ukraine. The ship will dock in Rotterdam, Netherlands for three months and will be staffed with approximately 650 crew members.
“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,” said Gus Antorcha, president, Holland America Line. “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.”
Under the agreement to charger Volendam, 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.
Volendam was 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 will cancel three of those voyages and resume service on July 3 instead. Guests on cancelled cruises are being 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,” added Antorca. “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 team members who are Ukrainian via a US$1 million emergency assistance fund that provides direct financial support. Team members from the region also receive counselling assistance, free Internet service to communicate with family, and scheduling accommodations such as early disembarkation or an extension to remain onboard 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 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,” 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.”