The announcement was made at an event marking the opening of the city’s new passenger terminal
MSC Cruises has signed a five-year agreement with Cruise Saudi for preferential berthing rights at the port of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
The announcement was made at a commemorative event marking the opening of the city’s new passenger terminal, which was held onboard the cruise line’s ship MSC Bellissima. The event was hosted by Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises, and Fawaz Farooqui, managing director of Cruise Saudi, for officials from the Saudi Tourism Authority, Cruise Saudi and the Saudi Ports Authority.
The master of the ship, Captain Roberto Leotta, exchanged crests with Farooqui in a traditional maritime ceremony to celebrate the vessel’s maiden port call. Guests were given guided tours of the ship and viewed a performance by MSC Cruises’ entertainment team, followed by a meal in one of MSC Bellissima’s speciality restaurants.
“This event marks a great milestone for Cruise Saudi, and indeed for the tourism industry in Saudi Arabia,” said Mark Robinson, chief operations and commercial officer for Cruise Saudi. “The remit of Cruise Saudi – to create 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 – is an ambitious one, which will play a major part in strengthening the tourism industry in Saudi Arabia. It is a vision that we would not be able to accomplish were it not for our trusted business partners such as MSC.”
The MSC Foundation, MSC Group’s private non-profit organisation, will also work with Saudi non-profit the Ba’a Foundation to help conserve coral in the Caribbean and the Red Sea. The partnership will aim to improve scientific understanding of the best practices for the restoration of coral reefs and to increase the area of reef habitat actively restored.
“This is a very special, historic day for all of us,” said Vago. “With the new agreement in place, together with Cruise Saudi we will work in unison to develop this very special aspect of Saudi Arabia’s determined and sustainable growth in tourism, which mirrors our own strategy and ambitions.”
MSC Bellissima will sail 21 three- and four-night cruises from Jeddah to Safaga, Egypt and Aqaba, Jordan between the end of July and late October. Her sister ship, MSC Virtuosa, will also make her debut in Saudi Arabia in the winter with calls at the port of Dammam.
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