MSC Splendida arrived in the Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah on November 23 on her inaugural visit to the Kingdom, marking the start of the third season of sailings in the Red Sea. The call from the MSC Cruises cruise ship is part of the Saudi Arabian initiative to bring more cruise ships to the country, which has been closed to tourism for many years.
MSC Cruises has been steadily building up its presence in the Middle East and is currently the biggest cruise operator in the region. Other cruise lines that will visit Jeddah this year include Viking, Silverseas, and Fred Olsen Cruise Line.
MSC Splendida Opens Saudi Arabian Cruise Season
Saudi Arabia, which until recently has been closed off to mainstream tourism, has been working hard to bring more cruise ships to its shores. The country has found a willing partner in that drive in MSC Cruises. The European cruise line, one of the biggest in the world, is the market leader in Middle-Eastern cruises.
MSC Splendida arrived at the Jeddah Islamic Port on November 23, where she was welcomed by Chief Legal and Governmental Affairs Officer at Cruise Saudi, Dr. Hani Gharbawi, and officials from The Saudi Ports Authority.
Dr. Hani Gharbawi commented on the arrival of the ship: “We are pleased to welcome MSC Splendida to Saudi – the fourth ship from MSC Cruises to sail Saudi waters since Cruise Saudi launched the industry less than two years ago. We look forward to welcoming more renowned global cruise ships and passengers to discover and experience Saudi – the newest player in the cruising arena – by land and sea as part of our newly launched season.
“The country’s breathtaking natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and historical wonders make it a must-visit destination for travelers – and we are proud to open a new gateway to share Saudi’s story with the rest of the world.”
MSC Splendida will sail in Saudia Arabia between November 2022 and May 2023, offering cruises from Jeddah to Yanbu in Saudi Arabia, Aqaba in Jordan, and Port Sokhna and Safaga in Egypt. Cruises vary in length between 3,4, and 7 days.
MSC Splendida is a Fantasia-class, 133,500 gross-tons cruise ship with space on board for 3,900 guests. The vessel was completed in 2008 and operated mainly in the far east until 2020 and in the Mediterranean since the restart.
Saudi Arabia Cruises
While Saudia Arabia is not the first place that many would consider taking a cruise to, the country has been working hard to establish itself as a cruise destination. The country is filled with historical sites, including several UNESCO World Heritage sites, and offers visitors a great way to explore the Arabian Peninsula.
The country first opened to cruise ship visitors in 2020, and since then, it has operated two successful seasons in 2021/2022 and welcomed 50,000+ local and international passengers (from 80+ nationalities), ships from four global cruise lines that conducted 70+ sailings.
There are three ports that are capable of receiving cruise ships in the Kingdom, Jeddah and Yanbu on the Red Sea and Damman on the Persian Gulf.
This season, the country expects to welcome five different cruise lines for a total of 75 calls. These are MSC Cruises with MSC Splendida and MSC Sinfonia, Silverseas with Silver Spirit, Viking with Viking Neptune, Fred Olsen Cruise Line with Bolette, and the private residence cruise ship, The World.