Ship part

Scotland charters second cruise ship to house Ukrainian refugees

Scotland has chartered the cruise ship Ambition which has been decommissioned pending entry into service in 2023 (Ambassador Cruise Line)

Published on August 15, 2022 19:39 by

The Maritime Executive

With the influx of Ukrainian refugees continuing to enter Scotland and threatening to overwhelm available accommodation, Scotland has announced plans to convert a second passenger ship into temporary accommodation. The Scottish government had recently suspended its visa scheme for three months, saying it needed to make arrangements citing housing shortages and the continued influx of applications.


The Scottish government has chartered the 48,000 gross ton cruise ship Ambition and it will be located in Glasgow to house up to 1,750 Ukrainian refugees. Built in 1999 for a pop-up cruise start-up, the ship was eventually acquired by Carnival Corporation who operated it with Ibero Cruises, Costa, and finally AIDA, before selling the ship in January 2022 to British start-up Ambassador . Cruise line. Renowned Ambitionsince April, it has been idle in Bar, Montenegro, with the cruise line not planning to commission it until March 2023.


The ship, which is 708 feet long, has 713 passenger cabins that can accommodate approximately 1,200 people. Scotland did not say how long it had chartered the cruise ship, but said it should be fully operational by September in Glasgow. The cruise ship left Montenegro over the weekend and after a stopover in Malta it is currently heading to France.


She joins the Victoria I, a passenger ship currently moored in Leith, which is home to around 1,000 refugees. She was chartered in Scotland via Tallink from its normal route between Tallinn and Stockholm. The initial six-month charter began in July, but Scotland has the option, according to Tallink, to extend it for a further three months.


“Following the arrival of the M/S Victoria I – which was well received by those on board – the Scottish Government charters a second passenger ship – the M/S Ambition – which will be established in Glasgow from the beginning of September. This will further strengthen our ability to provide safe and secure accommodation to those who need it,” said Scottish Minister for Refugees from Ukraine, Neil Gray.


The Scottish Government launched its Super Sponsorship scheme in March to provide refuge for displaced people from Ukraine working as part of the UK Government’s efforts to provide a fast and secure alternative to private sponsorship. By August, the Scottish government had offered shelter to 10,056 people displaced from Ukraine, far exceeding initial estimates of 3,000 people. The number of Ukrainians seeking refuge in Scotland continues to rise, with government officials reporting that to date they have received almost 34,000 visa applications under the scheme.


“We are getting closer to the capacity of the temporary housing that is currently available, especially in the central belt,” Gray said. “While areas like Glasgow and Edinburgh are more familiar to Ukrainians, we would encourage anyone arriving here to consider other areas across Scotland, especially as we see more visas being issued.”


Scotland is not alone in chartering passenger ships to provide temporary accommodation. Estonia and the Netherlands also leased ships at the start of the crisis. The Netherlands recently said it would bring in three more ships to house the refugees, even offering to anchor the ships offshore while providing accommodation. This idea was withdrawn after much criticism, but the Netherlands continued to charter the three ships while saying he was working on the docking arrangements.


According to the UN, at least 12 million people have fled their homes since Russia invaded Ukraine and more than 5.2 million refugees from the country are thought to have been spread across Europe.