Guests Donate $450,000 to Ukraine Relief

View of check donation presentation from On Deck for a Cause program with Holland America Line ship in background.

A fundraising effort by cruise line passengers, which took place on the high seas around six different continents, has resulted in a $450,000 donation for Ukraine relief. Funds were raised through Holland America Line’s On Deck for a Cause campaign, and the check was presented on Jan. 31, 2023, to the global humanitarian aid organization Direct Relief.

For 10 months on every cruise in our 11-ship fleet, guests could make a $25 donation to participate in a fundraising 5K walk during their sailing, in locales ranging from Alaska to Europe and the Panama Canal to Australia.

“Our guests and team members, who love to explore the world, wanted to do something to make a meaningful difference for families in a part of the world that desperately needs humanitarian aid,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line. “We knew our guests were generous, but their support has well exceeded our expectations, with donations totaling $450,000.”

Direct Relief is a California-based charity that works in all U.S. states and territories and more than 90 countries around the world to expand access to medicine and healthcare by equipping doctors and nurses with lifesaving medical resources. It has already provided more than 1,000 tons of medical material aid requested by the Ukrainian Health Ministry.

“We’re grateful to Holland America Line and its guests for this tremendous fundraising effort in which people took time during their vacations to make a difference,” said Thomas Tighe, president and chief executive officer, Direct Relief. “Their support will further help us in providing lifesaving medications to Ukraine, ranging from cancer therapies to treatments for chronic health conditions.”

The check presentation took place at the Port of San Diego near where Holland America Line’s Koningsdam was berthed. San Diego is Koningsdam’s homeport in the winter, with more than 62,000 guests embarking several Holland America Line ships at the port during the 2022/23 season.

“We’re proud that so many guests who choose the Port of San Diego were part of this fundraising effort,” said Chairman Rafael Castellanos, Port of San Diego. “Californians alone account for close to 15% of Holland America Line’s guest population, and the money raised is providing timely relief for the crisis in Ukraine.”

The fundraising effort began in March and coincided with a pledge of $3 million to charities helping Ukrainian refugees from the family foundation of parent company Carnival Corporation’s chairman Micky Arison and his wife Madeleine. From April through September 2022, the Dutch government and City of Rotterdam chartered the Holland America Line ship Volendam as part of their larger effort to accommodate 50,000 Ukrainians who fled the war in their homeland.

In featured photo above from left to right: Michael Smith, Senior Vice President, Guest Experience and Product Development, Holland America Line; Heather Bennett, Vice President, Partnerships and Philanthropy, Direct Relief; William Swaney, Consular Chief, US State Department; Rafael Castellanos, Chairman, Board of Commissioners, Port of San Diego; and Captain Robert Kan, Koningsdam, Holland America Line.


Join the Discussion


  1. Annie Dunn February 11, 2023 at 8:07 am - Reply

    This was my second On Deck 5K for Ukraine, and it is fun as well as a wonderful cause! Thank you for hosting! One tiny suggestion—any chance the shirts could be orange so they could be worn during the Orange Party? Blue is so warm—and so common!

  2. Mary February 10, 2023 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    This is wonderful! Ukraine certainly needs help. Kudos to HAL guests! And thank you HAL for removing Russian port calls from your itineraries.

Leave A Comment

Sign up for special offers and announcements