Holland America and City of Rotterdam Extend Volendam Refugee Charter

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Holland America Line and the city of Rotterdam have extended the charter for the cruise ship Volendam. Since the charter started in early April, the vessel has been home to some 1,200 Ukrainian refugees. 

Originally scheduled to end at the end of June, the local Rotterdam government has requested Holland America Line and Carnival Corporation to extend the charter by an additional ten weeks. This also means that the original return to service date of July 3 will no longer be met. 

Volendam Remains In Rotterdam as Home for Refugees

The Dutch city of Rotterdam has extended the charter for the cruise ship Volendam from Holland America Line. Since April, the city has chartered the vessel from the Seattle-based cruise line to house those that the war in Ukraine has displaced. 

The first guests arrived on April 6; the ship is currently home to some 1,200 refugees and will house up to 1,500 refugees through the extended charter.

The deal is part of a commitment from the Dutch government to accommodate up to 50,000 refugees who fled the war in their home country.

Volendam Cruise Ship

Holland America’s President Gus Antorcha said last month that Holland America was founded in 1873 in Rotterdam to help those trying to find a better life elsewhere, so it only made sense to help those in need now:

“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. 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.” 

The charter was due to run through June but will now be extended by ten weeks. The agreement includes that Holland America provides hot meals, private stateroom accommodations, housekeeping services, laundry, use of public spaces, fitness facilities, internet access, and other necessities. 

The Ukrainian guests are supported by some 650 Volendam crew members and social workers from the Dutch government and Salvation Army. The refugees also receive free healthcare, while schooling is provided to kids onboard. 

Holland America Line Will Cancel Additional Voyages

The charter extension does mean that Holland America Line will cancel further cruises to accommodate the Dutch request.

Six additional voyages onboard Volendam have been canceled, which include a 14-night cruise to Norway on July 3, a 14-night exploration of Northern Europe on July 17, A 14-night cruise to the UK and Scandinavia on July 31, and three more cruises through September 24 to the UK, Western Europe, and the Mediterranean. 

“We are sorry for the inconvenience this will cause to guests booked on Volendam through the summer,” said Beth Bodensteiner, the chief commercial officer of Holland America Line. “We appreciate their continued understanding as we work with the city of Rotterdam on this important mission.”

The first cruise back to service is now scheduled to be a 14-day Holy Land & Ancient Kingdoms Explorer voyage sailing from Venice, Italy, on September 24, 2022.

Nearly all Holland America ships are currently operating; the only ship not sailing with guests yet is Westerdam, which will set sail June 12 from Seattle with 7-night sailings from Alaska

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