MSC Cruises expands the presence of Saudi cruise ships

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MSC Cruises continues to strengthen its presence in the Middle East and in Saudi Arabia, already a stronghold of the third Swiss-based cruise line. Flagship MSC Virtuoso picked up passengers for the first time in Jeddah as she headed for the Mediterranean and the UK for her summer season.

Saudi Arabia is working steadily to attract more tourists to the country, with cruises playing an important role in the process. Since the start of the 2021 cruise season, more than 70 calls have been made in the country by cruise ships from Viking Ocean, Silverseas, Scenic and MSC.

MSC flagship leaves Jeddah

MSC Virtuoso made her first stopover in Jeddah while heading to the Mediterranean and the UK for her summer season.

The MSC cruise ship is the company’s second cruise ship to leave Jeddah. MSC Bellissima operates from the port throughout the summer and winter 2021/2022 season.

Lars Clasen, CEO of Cruise Saudi, said: “We are proud to welcome the flagship of one of the most established and popular cruise lines in the world. The MSC Virtuosa tour highlights Saudi Arabia as an exciting cruise destination for cruise passengers and international travellers. At Cruise Saudi, we look forward to welcoming more guests and operators to experience the sparkling waters of the Red Sea as the tourism industry picks up speed.

Photo Courtesy: Saudi Arabia Cruise

MSC Virtuoso spends the winter in the Middle East. After her Baptism and Baptism Ceremony in Dubai in November 2021, she spent the winter sailing in the Persian Gulf, visiting Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island and Doha.

At 181,541 gross tons and with a seating capacity of 6,334, MSC Virtuoso is the largest ship in the MSC fleet. The ship has 10 restaurants, 21 bars and lounges and five swimming pools.

Saudi tourism takes off with the help of cruise ships

Saudi Arabia has been closed and inaccessible since 2004 for international tourism, with the only exceptions made for business and religious travelers. However, this is rapidly changing with the new Vision 2030 policies implemented by the Saudi government.

“By supporting the Saudi tourism industry, we are not only enabling the world to experience the pristine islands and beaches of Arabia and the unique culture, heritage and hospitality – but we are also opening new gateways to connect the ‘Saudi Arabia to the world and transform the country into a tourist hub,’ Lars Clasen continued.

MSC Virtuosa in Dubai
Photo courtesy: MSC Cruises

Over the past two years, several international cruise lines have made regular stops in Saudi Arabia. Most notably, around 70 calls from MSC Cruises, Scenic Group, Silversea and Viking.

The country’s cruise representative, Cruise Saudi, also entered into an agreement with MSCwhich guaranteed that the company would send its ships to the country for the next five years.

Over the next few years, as Saudi Arabia continues to develop its tourism industry and tries to become less dependent on the oil industry, Cruise Saudi seeks to create 50,000 jobs in the cruise industry in Saudi Arabia by 2035.

Would you cruise to or from Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia is not yet a major player in the cruise industry and it is not a destination that many would consider their new favorite cruise area. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no reason to take a voyage of discovery here.

Besides the warm waters of the Red Sea and the water sports opportunities on offer in places such as Yanbu, known as the scuba diving capital of the Red Sea, there is much more to see in the country itself. .

Some of the ports calling include Al Wajh, from where you can visit one of Saudi Arabia’s most historic cities, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Al-Ula. Dammam, visit AlAhsa Oasis, another UNESCO World Heritage Site.

And of course, Jeddah itself is considered the commercial hub of the country, but also the home of Al Balad, the Hijazi-style old town recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Guests should keep one thing in mind while cruising in Saudi Arabia. Alcohol will not be served during ports of call and only when the ship is in international waters.

MSC Virtuosa cruise ship
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