An American cruise line is stepping up to provide temporary housing for Ukrainian refugees in the Netherlands in what may be the first instance of a cruise ship actually being a net positive for humanity.
Holland America Line, based in Seattle, Washington, is cancelling three cruises in order to house and feed approximately 1,500 Ukrainian refugees for three months aboard the Volendam. The ship will be docked in Rotterdam where the company was originally founded. Spokesperson Bill Zucker told King5 that Holland America Line got its start in Holland transporting immigrants to the U.S., so it’s ready to help out folk who are down on their luck:
“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.”
The government of the Netherlands is committed to hosting 50,000 refugees in the country. As well as the pay for the 650-person crew, the government is covering the cost of room and board for the visiting Ukrainians. The ship goes back into service as a pleasure cruiser in July and ticker holders for the cancelled voyages are being offered similar itineraries starting this summer.
Cruise ships likely aren’t the ideal setting for people who may have lowered immune systems due to stress, injuries or inadequate food to share close quarters. Ships have been hot spots for COVID transmission from day one of the pandemic. Still, it’s better to have a roof over ones head and Holland America Line is commendable for providing that security to people who have been through so much.