Ukrainian refugees to stay on Holland America Line ship

Holland America Line’s Volendam will provide accommodation for Ukrainian refugees as part of an agreement announced by Netherlands and City of Rotterdam government officials.

The ship will dock in Rotterdam for three months to provide a temporary home for about 1,500 Ukrainians, part of a larger commitment from the Netherlands to accommodate 50,000 people who fled the war amid the Russian invasion.

The ship was scheduled to return to service on May 15, with voyages from Rotterdam to Norway, the British Isles and Iceland.

To accommodate the three-month commitment, Holland America Line will cancel three of those voyages and resume service on July 3 instead.

Passengers on cancelled cruises are being notified and will be accommodated on similar itineraries.

Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line, said: “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 three hot meals per day, private stateroom accommodation, housekeeping services, use of public spaces, fitness facilities, internet access and other necessities.

Volendam will be staffed with about 650 crew members.

Captain Ryan Whitaker added: “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.”

Antorcha apologised to those affected by the cancellations, adding: “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 staff who are Ukrainian and a $1 million emergency assistance fund is providing direct financial support.

Team members from the region also receive counselling assistance, free internet service to communicate with family.

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.

Holland America Line will raise further funds through its On Deck for a Cause programme, in which guests on every cruise may take part in a non-competitive five-kilometre fundraising walk.

Arnold Donald, president and chief executive of Carnival Corporation & plc, commented: “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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