The latest new-cruise-destination buzz surrounds Saudi Arabia, which has opened itself to leisure travellers as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's ambitious Vision 2030 plan to diversify the nation's oil-dominated economy.
Saudi Arabia introduced a tourist visa for travellers from dozens of countries, including the US and most of Europe, and it relaxed what had been very strict rules for women, such as not having to have a male chaperone to enter the country.
The kingdom also established Cruise Saudi, a publicly funded effort to develop ports, destinations and excursion options to attract more ships to its ports in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf.
That effort is already bearing fruit. MSC Cruises this week said that one of its newest ships, the MSC Bellisima, this month will homeport in Jeddah, adding to its earlier plan to base the MSC Magnifica in Jeddah, where it will offer seven-day, Red Sea cruises through March.
Scenic Cruises also announced in early July that its luxury expedition vessel, the Scenic Eclipse, would homeport in Jeddah this month, launching a series of Red Sea itineraries from 17 July to 9 December.
More ships are expected to follow MSC's lead.
Source: Travel Weekly