The charter was made in 2015 to provide temporary housing for refugees who have fled war-torn Syria and Iraq. The new agreement extends the charter for an additional two years, with a focus on providing training opportunities and job placements.

Holland America and City of Rotterdam Extend Volendam Refugee Charter

The cruise ship Volendam’s charter has been renewed by Holland America Line and the city of Rotterdam. The warship has housed almost 1,200 Ukrainian migrants since the charter began in early April. 

The charter was supposed to terminate at the end of June, but the city of Rotterdam has asked Holland America Line and Carnival Corporation to extend it for another 10 weeks. This also implies that the initial July 3 return to service date will be missed. 

Volendam Remains in Rotterdam as a Refugee Reception Center

The charter for Holland America Line’s cruise ship Volendam has been renewed by the Dutch city of Rotterdam. Since April, the city has rented the ship from a Seattle cruise operator to shelter individuals displaced by the Ukraine conflict. 

The first passengers boarded the ship on April 6; the ship presently houses 1,200 migrants and will accommodate up to 1,500 over the prolonged contract.

The agreement is part of the Dutch government’s promise to house up to 50,000 migrants fleeing their native country’s civil strife.

1648830549_612_Holland-America-Cruise-Ship-to-House-Ukrainian-RefugeesCruise Ship Volendam

Holland America’s President Gus Antorcha stated last month that because the company was formed in Rotterdam in 1873 to assist immigrants seeking a better life, it only made sense to support those in need now:

“Because we are in a unique position to provide urgent food and shelter needs, we believed it was critical to collaborate with the City of Rotterdam to charter this ship.” Our organization was started in Rotterdam with the goal of assisting immigrants in their search for a better life. As a result, we’re happy to be a tiny part of a similar endeavor today for Ukrainians who have been brutally displaced.” 

The charter was supposed to terminate in June, but it will now be extended for another 10 weeks. Holland America will offer hot meals, private stateroom rooms, cleaning services, laundry, use of public areas, workout facilities, internet access, and other essentials within the terms of the agreement. 

Approximately 650 Volendam crew members and social workers from the Dutch government and Salvation Army assist the Ukrainian visitors. The refugees also get free healthcare, and children aboard are educated. 

Additional Voyages by Holland America Line Will Be Cancelled

Because of the charter extension, Holland America Line will have to cancel more voyages to fulfill the Dutch request.


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 further trips to the UK, Western Europe, and the Mediterranean on September 24 have all been canceled aboard Volendam. 

“We apologize for the difficulty this may bring to customers booked aboard the Volendam throughout the summer,” said Beth Bodensteiner, Holland America Line’s chief commercial officer. “We appreciate their patience while we collaborate with the city of Rotterdam on this critical task.”

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 presently in service; the only ship that has yet to sail with passengers is Westerdam, which will depart Seattle on June 12 for seven-night cruises from Alaska.

Holland America Volendam

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