Rotterdam has extended its charter agreement for the cruise ship Volendam (IMO 9156515) from Holland America Line so that it can provide temporary housing for displaced Ukrainian families.
Rotterdam chartered the vessel at the beginning of April as part of a Europe-wide effort to find space for displaced Ukrainian citizens
Holland America Line chief commercial officer Beth Bodensteiner said that “we are sorry for the inconvenience this will cause to guests booked on Volendam through the summer,” adding that “we appreciate their continued understanding as we work with the city of Rotterdam on this important mission.”
The cruise line cancelled six scheduled cruises, although it has two other ships operating in Northern Europe this year.
Holland America Line, a brand of Carnival Corp, said that its cruise ship had been home to around 1,200 Ukrainians since docking in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in early April. The government initially chartered the ship through to the end of June, but with an option to extend. It has now asked to extend the charter for a further 10 weeks, until September 14th 2022.
Holland America Line said that the cruise ship could house up to 1,500 refugees through the extended charter. The cruise line is providing hot meals, private stateroom accommodations, housekeeping services, laundry, use of public spaces, fitness facilities, internet access, and other necessities and has a crew of approximately 650 aboard to operate the ship.
The Netherlands has committed to take in 50,000 Ukrainians. Both Amsterdam and Rotterdam chartered river cruise ships to provide accommodations.
Vessels have been used elsewhere to cope with the influx of refugees from the Russia-Ukraine war. In Estonia, which has received some 37,000 refugees, the government chartered a ferry to provide housing. Passenger/Vehicle RoRo Isabelle (IMO 8700723) is in Tallinn accommodating 1,500 Ukrainians until a more permanent solution can be found.
Cruise ships were seen as a good solution as they could be docked to provide access to city services, while relieving the pressure on hotels.
1999-built, Netherlands-flagged, 61,214 gt Volendam is owned by Hal Antillen NV care of manager Holland America Line NV of Seattle, Washington, USA. It is entered with Steamship Mutual (Americas Division) on behalf of HAL Antillen NV.
1989-built, Latvia-flagged, 35,154 gt Isabelle is owned by Hansalink Ltd care of Conferry of Caracas, Venezuela. It is managed by Tallink Group Ltd of Tallinn, Estonia. ISM manager is HT Shipmanagement OU of Tallinn, Estonia. It is entered with Gard on behalf of Hansalink Ltd.