Cruising Saudi, a 100 per cent Public Investment Fund-owned business striving to develop the kingdom’s cruise industry, has partnered with MSC Cruises to offer Red Sea cruises in the coming winter season.
In the Saudi capital city, Riyadh, Fawaz Farooqui, Managing Director of Cruise Saudi and Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, signed a landmark framework agreement to mark the beginning of the new partnership.
According to the agreement, the MSC Magnifica will homeport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s commercial hub and the second-largest port in the Middle East, with a historical centre designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Operational from November 2021 to March 2022, the vessel will visit various ports around the Red Sea region. There will also be weekly calls at three Saudi ports, including AlWajh, the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage site of AlUla.
While the Kingdom prepares to host the Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2021 on Dec. 5 in Jeddah, Magnifica guests will be able to attend this global sports event during their trip aboard the Magnifica.
MSC Cruises’ flagship Virtuosa will see its Arabian Gulf winter 2021 programme enriched with extensive visits to the AlAhsa oasis, another UNESCO World Heritage site, on her journeys from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.
From December 2021 to March 2022, the Virtuosa will call at this new exciting destination every week.
Speaking on the signing of the agreement, Farooqui said:
“We are delighted to work with MSC Cruises and are keen to forge a long-term partnership. We look forward to exploring opportunities to increase the number and size of vessels operating on Saudi routes in the future. Saudi Arabia has a lot to offer visitors. The new collaboration will open doors for intrepid travellers worldwide to be amongst the first to experience the rich Saudi heritage and warm hospitality. Meanwhile, by welcoming international tourists to these emerging destinations, it will create new sources of income for local communities.”
For his part, Vago said:
“Having witnessed at 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. I am delighted that MSC Cruises will be in a position to contribute to the Kingdom’s opening to international visitors by becoming a premier cruise destination. 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 coastline and historical sites.”
Both companies expect about 170,000 passengers to explore Saudi Arabia’s historical, cultural and natural treasures on board the two MSC Cruises ships during the coming winter season. Saudi residents will also enjoy exploring their home country in the comfort only a cruise ship can provide.
International guests can get to Jeddah by direct flights from several European and international cities, connected by Saudi Arabia’s flag carrier, Saudia. With the support of a dedicated partnership, flight schedules will be reworked to accommodate the sailing dates of both ships while ensuring a smoother connection.