The ship will dock at Rotterdam for three months to provide a temporary home for approximately 1,500 Ukrainians, part of a larger commitment from the Netherlands to accommodate 50,000 people who fled the war in their homeland.
Follows Costa Magica
This is the second Carnival Corp. & plc ship to make itself available for Ukrainian refugee housing, along with Costa Cruises' Costa Magica in Italy, should the need arise there.
'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,' HAL President Gus Antorcha 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.'
Under the agreement Holland America will provide three hot meals per day, private stateroom accommodations, housekeeping services, use of public spaces, fitness facilities, Internet access and other necessities. Volendam will be staffed with approximately 650 crew.
Welcoming 'guests into our own home'
'We are known for our service and hospitality, and our team is ready to welcome our new guests as we would welcome guests into our own home,' Capt. Ryan Whitaker said. 'It will truly be an honor for us to make Volendam a comfortable and caring environment for these families who have been through so much.'
Three cruises canceled
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, three of those voyages are canceled, and the ship will resume service on July 3 instead. Passengers are being notified today and will be accommodated on similar itineraries.
Apologizing for the inconvenience to them, Antorcha said: '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.'
Volendam will be docked at Merwehaven, a cargo port on the north side of the River Maas in Rotterdam. Remaining docked will ensure Ukrainian families can transit easily to and from services in Rotterdam.
Support fo Ukrainian crew
Holland America Group has already been working with its own team members who are Ukrainian. A $1m emergency assistance fund provides direct financial support. Team members from the region also receive counseling assistance, free Internet to communicate with family and scheduling accommodations such as early disembarkation or an extension to remain on board as needed.
The family foundation of Carnival Corp. Chairman Micky Arison and wife Madeleine earlier announced a pledge of $3m to charities helping Ukrainian refugees.
In addition, Holland America said it will look to raise awareness and funds through its On Deck for a Cause program, in which passengers on every cruise may take part in a non-competitive 5K fundraising walk. The money raised will go to Direct Relief.