MSC Cruises will offer cruises from Saudi Arabia starting 4Q 2021.
Under an agreement with Cruise Saudi, MSC will homeport the MSC Magnifica in Jeddah in November, offering seven-day Red Sea
cruises through March 2022 that will call in three Saudi destinations as well as other regional ports.
A second ship, the MSC Virtuosa, will make weekly calls at Saudi Arabia's Arabian Gulf port of Dammam from December through March while on Middle East cruises to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar.
Fawaz Farooqui, managing director of Cruise Saudi, and Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises, have signed a framework agreement in Saudi's capital Riyadh to mark the partnership.
"Having witnessed firsthand the richness of the local heritage, I am impressed with Saudi Arabia's ability to preserve its traditions and culture and make them available for the world to see," Vago said in a statement, who praised the "untouched beauty"
of Saudi's coast and historical sites.
Itinerary highlights include three Unesco World Heritage sites: the historical center of Jeddah; AlUla, one of the oldest cities in the Arabian Peninsula, which is reached from the port of Al Wajh; and the Al-Ahsa oasis, accessible from Damman. Passengers
on the Magnifica can attend the inaugural Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2021, which is scheduled to be held on 5 December.
MSC and Cruise Saudi expect up to 170,000 passengers to visit the Kingdom on the two MSC ships. International passengers can reach Jeddah via direct flight from the cities serviced by Saudia, the Kingdom's flag carrier, which will modify schedules to
fit the two ships' departure and arrival times.
Cruise Saudi was formed this year to develop Saudi Arabia's cruise industry. Farooqui said the company hopes to "increase the number and size of vessels operating on Saudi routes in the future".
Source: Travel Weekly