Ukrainian refugees housed on a cruise ship in Rotterdam

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(CNN) – The travel industry has helped millions of people fleeing the conflict in Ukraine over the past six weeks, with hotel and vacation home owners across Europe offering rooms to those in need.

Now the cruise liner has also opened its doors to refugees. The Volandum of the Holland America Line, a 237-meter-long, 10-deck cruise ship docked in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, has recruited 1,500 Ukrainians for temporary shelter.

The ship’s captain, Ryan Whitaker, said: “Our crew sees Volandum as a true honor to create a comfortable and caring environment for families who are suffering so much.” CNN Travel.

Temporary accommodation

Volandum will be docked in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, for three months.

Volandum will be docked in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, for three months.

Courtesy Holland America Line

The Dutch government, which has promised to house 50,000 displaced Ukrainians, approached Holland America in late March and inquired about renting the ship as temporary accommodation.

Volandum had yet to return to service following the Covid-19 epidemic, but the ship was fully prepared in May for a scheduled return to the passenger boat.

Holland America’s director of European fleet operations, Sibrand Hassing, told CNN Travel that the cruise line was eager to help, as it was “in a position to accommodate the immediate need for food and shelter.”

A Rotterdam city spokesman said there was a “huge shortage of housing” in the city, meaning that displaced Ukrainians could not be offered individual housing at the moment.

“Some refugees stayed in hotels, but this was not a long-term solution,” the spokesman said. “That’s why we’ve decided to include this number of refugees on board for the coming months.”

On April 5, 100 Ukrainians climbed in Voland, and more are to come in the coming days.

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Ukrainians living on Volandum will be provided three hot meals a day, and will also use a variety of ship’s facilities – including housekeeping services, Wi-Fi and a fitness center.

“Our onboard team is known for its service and hospitality and we are ready to welcome our new guests as we will welcome guests to our own home,” said Captain Ryan Whitaker.

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Volandum will be docked at Rotterdam’s cargo port on the Mass River, Mervehaven, for the completion of the three-month charter. People on board can go down whenever they want, including going to school.

A Rotterdam spokesman said city officials were also “working hard to educate every Ukrainian child who has taken refuge in Rotterdam.”

“We expect to reach this goal somewhere in the next two weeks,” the spokesman said. “This will happen not on board the ship, but somewhere in Rotterdam.”

Medical and social care for Ukrainians will also be arranged by local social organizations, including the Salvation Army.

Those on board will be encouraged to wear masks in accordance with Dutch Covid-19 rules. A Rotterdam city spokesman also said that when Ukrainians board, their general health will be checked, and anyone experiencing symptoms such as covid will be tested. Vaccinations will also be available. Holland America said its crew would abide by their general covid rules.

Volandum’s next cruise has been canceled, offering tourists alternative options. Volendam is set to return to regular service in July. Upcoming tour plans include a midnight trip to the Sun’s Arctic Circle and a tour of the northern European capitals, with tickets costing about $ 2,400 per person for two weeks.

Top photo of Holland America line courtesy of Volandum

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