SEATTLE — Seattle-based Holland America Line will use one of its cruise ships to house Ukrainian refugees in the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
The company announced the Volendam, a 781-foot-long cruise ship, will dock in Rotterdam for three months to provide temporary shelter for approximately 1,500 Ukrainians.
"I think the government knew that cruise ships are a little bit like floating cities,” said Holland America Line spokesperson Bill Zucker. “So, we can take care of a lot of needs on our ships."
While Holland America Line is based in Seattle, the company was founded in Rotterdam. Zucker said some of the company's first trips took people immigrating from Europe to the United States.
"That's something that is very much in our roots,” said Zucker. “So, when the government asked us about this, we said yes. That's something that we wanted to do and that we could do.”
The vessel docked in Rotterdam on Saturday. Ukrainians could move on to the ship in the next couple of days.
Holland America Line said in a press release it would “provide three hot meals per day, private stateroom accommodations, housekeeping services, use of public spaces, fitness facilities, internet access, and other necessities” to the Ukrainian refugees.
"We'll take good care of them,” said Zucker. “We'll take care of their rooms. We'll feed them, and we'll be docked the whole time in the city of Rotterdam. So, as they need to get social services and other things in the city, they'll be able to simply walk off the ship and do that.”
Holland America Line's commitment to housing the 1,500 Ukrainians is part of a larger commitment from the Netherlands to accommodate 50,000 refugees. Zucker said the company worked with the government to determine a charter rate that covers the cost of food and the 650-person crew.
Volendam was scheduled to return to service in May. Holland America Line canceled three voyages to accommodate the vessel's stay in Rotterdam. Guests on the canceled cruises were offered a similar itinerary. The ship will resume service on July 3, 2022.