(NCS) — Saudi Arabia is to turn out to be the leaping off level for a serious cruise line for the primary time later this year with MSC Cruises working a brand new sequence of voyages exploring the Red Sea.

The Switzerland-based line is partnering with Cruise Saudi, a Saudi-owned group that is working to promote the nation as a cruise vacation spot.

MSC Cruises plans to homeport its MSC Magnifica ship within the historic metropolis of Jeddah.

From there, guests will embark on seven-day Red Sea cruises, stopping off at Aqaba for the spectacular historical metropolis of Petra in Jordan and calling on the port of Safaga, Egypt to see the traditional websites at Luxor. There may even be stopovers at two different Saudi ports, AlWajh and Yanbu.

The cruise route is scheduled to function from November 2021 to March 2022.

Meanwhile, MSC Virtuosa — an as-yet-to-be-debuted ship slated to premier on MSC’s upcoming summer time UK staycation voyages — will sail across the Arabian Gulf, together with port calls on the Saudi Arabia metropolis of Dammam and the Al-Ahsa oasis world heritage web site.

Saudi Arabia has been trying to market itself as a global vacationer vacation spot lately in an try to diversify its oil-dependent economic system by 2030.

It’s investing large sums in creating luxurious resorts and selling historic treasures, however will face challenges to entice guests who might beforehand have been dissuaded by the nation’s poor popularity over human rights and conservative legal guidelines that prohibit the freedoms of ladies.

MSC Cruises is the primary main cruise line to set up store in Saudi Arabia. Local vacationer cruise operator Red Sea Spirit launched Red Sea cruises in August 2020.

Future cruise plans

In a press release, Cruise Saudi mentioned it was eager to make the settlement with MSC Cruises 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,” mentioned Fawaz Farooqui, managing director of Cruise Saudi.

Meanwhile MSC Cruises’ Pierfrancesco Vago mentioned in a press release that the cruise line was attracted by “the richness of the local heritage.” Vago mentioned he hoped the voyages will entice vacationers from the world over, in addition to native guests from Saudi Arabia.

The world cruise business has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Cruising has tentatively recommenced in some markets — together with in Italy, by way of MSC Cruises and Costa Cruise Line — however stays at present out of motion within the United States.

Meanwhile, a number of cruise strains are planning British home voyages this summer time, together with Disney, P&O, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruise Line and Cunard.

Some cruise strains — together with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity — plan to restrict upcoming voyages to vaccinated passengers solely.

MSC is at present accepting bookings from all visitors no matter whether or not or not they have been vaccinated and counting on different security measures, together with pre-boarding testing — however the cruise line has committed to vaccinating all crew members.

NCS Travel reached out to MSC Cruises to affirm what Covid-19 security necessities shall be in place on the Saudi Arabia voyages.


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