Cruise Saudi was only launched last year at the end of January by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund to develop the country’s cruise industry in line with Saudi Vision 2030. Less than a year after its operations, the Saudi Arabia cruise traffic has increased fivefold from around 4,000 cruise passengers in 2020 to over 20,000 (according to November statistics) in 2021.
Saudi weddings have taken place at MSC Bellissima, which will be domiciled in Jeddah for a period of five years. Scenic Eclipse has been used by companies who use it for weeklong executive summits. With several projects underway in the country, including the recently concluded Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the Scenic Eclipse with its luxury amenities will also be used as a floating hotel, âsaid Fawaz Farooqui, Interim CEO of Cruise Saudi. us in an interview.
âWe plan to reach one million cruise passengers per year by 2028. I think it’s doable. We have the resources and the destination is just amazing.
Cruise Saudi operates cruise ports in Jeddah, Yanbu and Dammam (ready since last year); and by 2025 aims to add a cruise port in Duba to Neom and Jizan in the south – although destination readiness is also taken into account, when opening these ports, Farooqui tells us. .
Currently, MSC Bellissima operates regular winter routes along the Red Sea, reaching Aqaba in Jordan from its home port in Jeddah. The recently unveiled MSC Virtuosa will also make several routes from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island, Saudi Arabia and Qatar before returning to Dubai.
âWe have a seven night itinerary on the MSC Bellissima from Jeddah, then to King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), after which it will go to Yanbu, for its cultural offer. From there people would go on excursions to Al Ula and Medina, then they would sail to Aqaba and back with two days at sea to enjoy sailing.
This Jeddah-KAEC-Yanbu-Jeddah-Aqaba-Jeddah winter itinerary is the result of a summer of three to four night itineraries to Egypt and Jordan and also cruises to nowhere. âLast summer, we focused on national and regional customers due to the pandemic. Many of these are new to cruising, so we started with a three to four night itinerary on the MSC Bellissima, essentially allowing domestic travelers to experience our cruise product. Saudis would go there without their passports and enjoy being on a cruise ship. The second route was a four night round trip to Egypt and back, and we had a similar route from Saudi Arabia to Jordan. These two routes were the first time we have opened a cruise from Saudi Arabia to an international destination. It was a great learning.
Saudi Arabia’s coastline is the link between classic Mediterranean destinations and a host of Indian Ocean hotspots, providing a pristine sea route for cruise passengers from all over the world. Located just a three-hour flight from 250 million people in Europe, Asia and Africa, Cruise Saudi’s ports and routes along the Red Sea and Persian Gulf will provide an ideal base for cruise passengers to discover authentic treasures. from Arabia and beyond. Cruise Saudi seeks to create 50,000 cruise jobs in Saudi Arabia by 2035.
âWe are going to divide the Red Sea into several regions. While Jeddah will be one of our largest ports and home to huge cruise liners, the further north you head it will become more and more exclusive. Much like the Galapagos, you won’t see huge ships entering, only specially-built luxury ships.
Based in Jeddah, Cruise Saudi was formed to develop the infrastructure and services necessary to develop a full suite cruise market along the Saudi coast. The company, a company 100% owned by the Public Investment Fund, is responsible for port development in major Saudi destinations as well as scaling up cruise services, from marketing to onshore coordination and the operation of ships.
âCruise Saudi is cruise line agnostic, but we really care about sustainability. We want to make sure that cruise lines bring their most advanced ships to Saudi Arabia with the best environmental measures and the best technology on board. We have to make sure that consumers enjoy their cruise experience because ultimately it will increase their affinity with Saudi Arabia as a tourist destination, âFarooqui said.