Holland America Line is ending its role as a temporary housing provider for Ukrainians displaced by the war with Russia. His cruise ship Volendama 237 meter long, 10 deck cruise ship moored in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, has just completed a 6 month stay as a temporary shelter for 1,500 of these refugees.
The Volendam departed Rotterdam on September 15, 2022, bound for Trieste, Italy, where passengers will embark on September 24 for a 14-day cruise to the Holy Land and the Ancient Kingdoms. It will be VolendamThe first full voyage since COVID shut down the cruise industry in March 2020.
Volendam Was one of the first ships engaged in the refugee effort
In a April 1, 2022, Press releaseHolland America announced that Volendam “will be used to accommodate Ukrainian refugees under an agreement announced by the government authorities of the Netherlands and the city of Rotterdam.” This agreement included a promise to welcome 50,000 people fleeing the war in their homeland.
Additionally, Holland America Group and its Ukrainian team members have launched a $1 million emergency relief fund to provide direct financial support. Gus Antorcha, President of Holland America Line, said in the April press release, “We are in a unique position to meet the immediate food and shelter needs, so we felt it was very important to work with the city of Rotterdam and to charter this boat.”
Team members from all organizations involved made the ship feel as much at home as possible. Ukrainian-speaking crew members played an important role in the effort, as they communicated with the refugees and worked to meet their needs. Workers have created children’s play areas on deck, and the ship’s entertainment stage has been transformed into a space for creative learning. Many Ukrainian adults have found employment in Rotterdam; children attended local schools.
Volendam Say goodbye to the Ukrainians he sheltered
When Volendam returned to the fleet, the Ukrainians who were on board resettled with relatives or moved to more permanent accommodation in the Netherlands. At a farewell event Aug. 30 aboard the ship, Ukrainian families thanked the city of Rotterdam, the Salvation Army (which coordinated many of the relief and social services provided to the families) and the crew of the ship. Ryan Whitaker, the ship’s captain, spoke about the experience aboard several generations of Ukrainian families, saying how the experience touched him and the crew.
At this point, you might think Holland America was the only cruise line to dedicate ships to the temporary accommodation of Ukrainian refugees. In fact, there are several more. Costa Cruises offered its ship, the Costa Magicia, to Italian officials to provide temporary accommodation. Australian river cruise and tourism operator APT and sister brand TravelMarvel have donated a river vessel Chapel to help house Ukrainian refugees.
The Tallink Group Isabella, a 561ft ferry moored in the port of Tallinn in Estonia, is temporarily housing some of the more than 48,000 refugees who have arrived in Estonia. And, the Scottish Government chartered the 48,000 gross ton cruise ship Ambition, located in Glasgow, to accommodate up to 1,750 refugees. The Ambition joined the Victoria Ia passenger ship which is currently moored in Leith, home to around 1,000 refugees.
All of these efforts come just in time for Ukrainians fleeing their country. Cruise lines have stepped up to help. There is more work to do.
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