From left, Cruise Saudi’s Fawaz Farooqui and MSC Cruises’ Pierfrancesco Vago sign the agreement in the Saudi capital city Riyadh
MSC Cruises is to homeport a ship in Jeddah, one of the largest cities in Saudi Arabia, for the first time in winter 2021-2022 after signing a new framework agreement with Cruise Saudi.
According to the agreement, MSC Magnifica will operate seven-day Red Sea cruises from Jeddah between November 2021 and March 2022, calling at various destinations, including three Saudi ports. Itinerary highlights will include a visit to the port of AlWajh, which is the gateway to the city of AlUla, a Unesco World Heritage site.
MSC Cruises has also agreed that its flagship, MSC Virutosa, will make weekly calls at the port of Dammam in the Arabian Gulf between December 2021 and March 2021. This will enable guests to visit AlAhsa oasis, another Unesco World Heritage site.
“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,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises. “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 coastline and historical sites.”
Cruise Saudi and MSC Cruises expect that the cruises onboard MSC Magnifica and MSC Virtuosa will bring up to 170,000 guests to Saudi Arabia in the winter season. They will include both domestic and international tourists.
“We are delighted to work with MSC Cruises and are keen to forge a long-term partnership,” said Fawaz Farooqui, managing director of Cruise Saudi. “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 amongst 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.”
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