MSC Cruises has agreed a deal with Cruise Saudi, an investment fund-owned business based in Jeddah, to operate cruises from Saudi Arabia.
MSC Magnifica will homeport in Jeddah for seven-day Red Sea cruises between November 2021 and March 2022. The ship will call at three ports, including AlWajh, the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage site of AlUla.
In addition, MSC Virtuosa’s winter 2021 programme will now include calls to the city of Dammam.
In a statement, MSC and Cruise Saudi said they expected a total of 170,000 passengers to sail on the line’s winter programme.
MSC Cruises executive chairman of MSC Cruises Pierfrancesco 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 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.”
Cruise Saudi managing director Fawaz Farooqui added: “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, and the new collaboration will open doors for intrepid travellers from across the globe to be among the first to experience the rich Saudi heritage and warm hospitality.
“Meanwhile, through welcoming international tourists to these emerging destinations, it will create new sources of income for local communities.”