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A group of Ukrainian refugees has lived on a cruise ship in Rotterdam

A group of Ukrainian refugees has lived on a cruise ship in Rotterdam

(CNN) Hundreds of people affected by the conflict in Ukraine have been seeking refuge all over Europe, but the industry has stepped up to help by offering rooms and other assistance.

A cruise liner has also opened its doors to refugees. Holland America Line’s Volendam, a 237-meter long, 10-deck cruise ship docked in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, is here to offer temporary refuge for up to 1,500 Ukrainians.

“Our crew is excited to help the families aboard, in the hope that they enjoy their time on board,” said Volendam’s captain, Ryan Whitaker. “We see it as our true honor to give them a quality onboard experience.”

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The Netherlands government contacted Holland America in late March to inquire about chartering a ship as temporary accommodation.

Volendam had not yet returned following WWII’s Covid-19 pandemic. It was fully staffed in preparation for its planned return to passenger sailing in May.

Cruise lines are usually aware of disasters and always willing to help in times of need. Holland America is a prime example, offering housing and food for those stranded in their ports.

The spokesperson said there is a “major housing shortage” in the city which means displaced Ukrainians are unable to find individual housing where they can live at the moment.

Ukrainian refugees

Refugees who initially lived in hotels before coming to Canada are now living on a ship. The ship’s accommodations can be very expensive, but it is a way to provide short-term help.

On April 5, more than 100 Ukrainians boarded the ship Volendam, with more people set to board in the days leading up to Good Friday.

Imagine being on the ocean for a long period of time and knowing that you’re welcome to use all of the ship’s accommodations. This includes access to a fitness center, Wi-Fi, and housekeeping services — for every meal. That’s one of the perks that returning to Volendam as a Ukrainian citizen will provide you with!

The captain of our boat is very welcoming and accommodating to all of our travelers.

Volendam will remain docked at Merwehaven, a cargo port on Rotterdam’s River Maas, for the entire three-month charter. Those on board can disembark whenever they wish, including attending school.

City officials said they’re providing education to all of the Ukrainian children there and are working hard to make it possible.

Ukrainian refugees

“We expect to reach this goal somewhere in the next couple of weeks,” said the spokesperson. “This will not take place on board this ship, but on a location outside of Rotterdam.”

Ukrainians requiring medical and social care can be offered assistance via local organizations such as the Salvation Army. They also provide other services, like education, meals, and more.

Don’t worry – if you’re traveling to Rotterdam, the Ukrainian people passing through will be subject to a health check when they arrive! They’ll also be encouraged to wear a mask at all times due to recent regulation changes and the risk of Covid-like symptoms. Holland America also confirmed that it will be following the company’s usual COVID regulations for its travel to Brazil.

Volendam is canceling cruises and providing travelers with alternatives. Volendam will be sailing back on the seas in July, with regular itineraries including “midnight sun” voyages to the Arctic Circle, northern European tours, and prices starting at around $2,400 per passenger.

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