MSC Cruises has signed a five-year agreement with Cruise Saudi for preferential berthing rights at the port of Jeddah. This will allow the cruise line to further develop its cruise operations in the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf.
The announcement of the new five-year deal between MSC Cruises and Cruise Saudi was made in Jeddah as MSC Bellissima celebrated the opening of the city’s new passenger terminal with a commemorative event on board.
The new cruise terminal will welcome guests onboard for MSC Bellissima’s highly anticipated inaugural season in the Red Sea with 3- and 4-night cruises from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to both Egypt and Jordan until the end of October.
The special event on board MSC Bellissima was hosted by Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises and Fawaz Farooqui, Managing Director of Cruise Saudi.
The Master of MSC Bellissima Captain Roberto Leotta, who will helm the ship in the months ahead, exchanged crests with Fawaz Farooqui in a traditional maritime ceremony to celebrate a vessel’s maiden port call.
Guests who joined the ship for the special event were given guided ship tours, treated to a special show by MSC Cruises’ award-winning entertainment team and also enjoyed fine dining in a range of the ship’s outstanding specialty restaurants.
Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman, MSC Cruises said, “This is a very special, historic day for all of us. The largest and most modern cruise ship to operate in the Red Sea has set sail from Jeddah’s new terminal to mark a new beginning for cruising in Saudi Arabia and, more broadly, for its growing tourism industry.“
Following the agreement guests will be able to experience the cruise line’s unique itineraries visiting the country with its historic UNESCO World Heritage sites and pristine shores. The new agreement will help develop Saudi Arabia’s growth in tourism.
Cruise Saudi is tasked with launching the cruise industry in Saudi Arabia. The ambitious plan includes the creation of 50,000 jobs by 2025, to facilitate the building of an additional five ports, with Jeddah as a homeport, and to welcome 1.5 million annual passenger visits by 2028.
During the event MSC Foundation, the private non-profit organisation for MSC Group and the Ba’a Foundation, the non-profit organization in Saudi Arabia, announced that they will join forces to advance coral conservation thus helping to safeguard marine ecosystems. Sharing a common goal to protect and preserve the oceans, the two Foundations are coming together to advance the practice and science of coral reef restoration, and importantly to disseminate the knowledge they acquire to a global audience. The partnership will aim to further the scientific understanding of the best practices for the functional restoration of coral reefs and to increase the area of reef habitat actively restored. The collaboration will initially focus on specific locations of the Caribbean and Red Sea where restoration efforts are most needed.
MSC Bellissima will sail 21 Red Sea voyages from Jeddah between now and late October with 3- and 4-night cruises to Safaga for Luxor, Egypt or Aqaba for Petra, Jordan before returning to her Saudi homeport. The summer sailings will add to MSC Cruises’ previously announced winter 2021/22 Red Sea voyages from Jeddah starting in November. Her sister ship MSC Virtuosa which was launched earlier this year will also make her debut in Saudi Arabia during winter 2021/2022 with calls in the port of Dammam.