MSC Cruises will operate Red Sea cruises from Saudia Arabia this coming winter as part of a deal between the Italian cruise line and a public investment fund to develop the kingdom’s cruise industry.
MSC Magnifica will homeport in Jeddah, the second largest port in the Middle East after Dubai’s Jebel Ali, from November.
From there, the ship will operate seven-day cruises until March 2022, visiting several ports including three in Saudi Arabia. It will make weekly calls to the port of AlWajh, the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage site of AlUla.
MSC Cruises’ flagship MSC Virtuosa will also sail in the Arabian Gulf this winter, calling at the Saudi port of Dammam every week from December to March 2022 for visits to AlAhsa oasis, another UNESCO World Heritage site.
Fawaz Farooqui, Managing Director of public investment fund Cruise Saudi, said it was ‘keen to forge a long-term partnership’ with MSC Cruises.
“We look forward to exploring opportunities to increase the number and size of vessels operating on Saudi routes in the future,” he said.
MSC expects to attract up to 170,000 international guests on its Saudi cruises during the upcoming winter season.
The cruises will also be available to Saudi residents to book.