MSC Cruises will deploy MSC Magnifica and MSC Virtuosa to Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea this winter season.
The program is being launched in partnership with Cruise Saudi, a public investment fund-owned business that seeks to develop Saudi Arabia’s cruise industry and launch the country as a global cruise centre.
MSC Magnifica will homeport in Jeddah, the commercial hub and one of the largest cities of Saudi Arabia, as well as the second-largest port in the Middle East.
The vessel will operate seven-day Red Sea cruises from NOV 2021 to MAR 2022, with visits to a selection of ports and destinations in the region, including weekly calls to the port of AlWajh, the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage site of AlUla.
MSC Cruises’ flagship, MSC Virtuosa, will sail in the Arabian Gulf with a port of call including AlAhsa oasis, another UNESCO World Heritage site.
“Having witnessed first-hand 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,” MSC chairman, Pierfrancesco Vago, said.
“I am delighted that MSC Cruises will be in a position to contribute to the Kingdom’s opening to international visitors through becoming a premier cruise destination and I look forward to helping tourists from all over the world as well as from the Kingdom discover the incredible wonders that this country has to offer, including the untouched beauty of its coast line and historical sites.”
MSC and Cruise Saudi say they expect to welcome 170,000 guests during MSC’s upcoming winter 2021/22 season.
“We look forward to exploring opportunities to increase the number and size of vessels operating on Saudi routes in the future,” said Fawaz Farooqui, Managing Director of Cruise Saudi.
“Saudi Arabia has a lot to offer visitors, and the new collaboration will open doors for intrepid travellers from across the globe to be amongst the first to experience the rich Saudi heritage and warm hospitality.”