MSC Group has signed a five-year agreement with Cruise Saudi for preferential berthing rights at the port of Jeddah.
The announcement was made in Jeddah as one one of MSC’s newest ships, MSC Bellissima, marked the opening of the city’s new passenger terminal with a commemorative event on board.
The deal is a sign of the growing importance of the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf to the cruise industry and another key step in Saudi Arabia’s establishment as a major tourism destination.
The Master of the ship Captain Roberto Leotta, who will helm MSC Bellissima in the months ahead, exchanged crests with Fawaz Farooqui in a traditional maritime ceremony to celebrate a vessel’s maiden port call.
A ‘Historic Day’
Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman, MSC Cruises said, “This is a very special, historic day for all of us. The largest and most modern cruise ship to operate in the Red Sea has set sail from Jeddah’s new terminal to mark a new beginning for cruising in Saudi Arabia and, more broadly, for its growing tourism industry.
“We can now allow our global guest base to come and experience our unique itineraries in this beautiful country with its historic UNESCO World Heritage sites and pristine shores.
And with the new agreement in place, together with Cruise Saudi we will work in unison to develop this very special aspect of Saudi Arabia’s determined and sustainable growth in tourism which mirrors exactly our own strategy and ambition.
And we will work together in attracting guests from all corners of the world as well as local markets for a Red Sea and Arabian Gulf holiday like no other on board our modern and environmentally high performing vessels.”
Mark Robinson, Chief Operations & Commercial Officer, Cruise Saudi, added, “This event marks a great milestone for Cruise Saudi, and indeed for the tourism industry in Saudi Arabia, in line with Vision 2030.
The creation of Cruise Saudi, tasked with launching the cruise industry in Saudi Arabia, happened just six months ago at FII in Riyadh.
He added: “The remit of Cruise Saudi; to create 50,000 jobs by 2025, to facilitate the building of an additional five ports, with Jeddah as a homeport, and to welcome 1.5 million annual passenger visits by 2028; is an ambitious one, which will play a major part in strengthening the tourism industry in Saudi Arabia. It is a vision that we would not be able to accomplish were it not for our trusted business partners such as MSC.”
21 Red Sea Cruises
MSC Bellissima will sail 21 Red Sea voyages from Jeddah between the end of July and late October with 3- and 4-night cruises to Safaga for Luxor, Egypt or Aqaba for Petra, Jordan before returning to her Saudi homeport.
The summer sailings will add to MSC Cruises’ previously announced winter 2021/22 Red Sea voyages from Jeddah starting in November.