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MSC Group signs five-year agreement with Cruise Saudi 

The group has secured preferential cruise berthing rights at Jeddah port until 2027

The Cruise Division of MSC Group has signed a five-year agreement with Cruise Saudi for preferential berthing rights at the port of Jeddah, a further sign of its long-term commitment to support the development of the local tourism sector by operating cruises in the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf.

The announcement 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 on board for MSC Bellissima’s highly anticipated inaugural season in the Red Sea with three- and four-night cruises from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to both Egypt and Jordan until the end of October.

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MSC Launch Event
The special event on board MSC Bellissima was hosted by MSC Cruises executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago and Cruise Saudi managing director Fawaz Farooqui for local dignitaries, senior officials from the Saudi Tourism Authority, Cruise Saudi and Mawani, the Saudi Ports Authority, as well as members of the Saudi Arabian media and travel community. 

Vago 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.

“We can now allow our global guest base to come and experience our unique itineraries in this beautiful country with its historic UNESCO World Heritage sites and pristine shores. And 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 exactly our own strategy and ambition.”

Six Months’ Progress
Cruise Saudi chief operations and commercial officer Mark Robinson added: “This event marks a great milestone for Cruise Saudi, and indeed for the tourism industry in Saudi Arabia, in line with Vision 2030. The creation of Cruise Saudi, tasked with launching the cruise industry in Saudi Arabia, happened just six months ago at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh. Yet, in these few months, we have been able to work with international partners such as the Cruise Division of MSC Group and national bodies, such as the Saudi Ports Authority, Mawani, the Red Sea Gateway Terminal, the Saudi Tourism Authority, the Ministries of Transport, Culture, Health and Tourism, Saudi Customs and Immigration, the Saudi Border Guard, Jeddah Chambers of Commerce and many more such organisations to build Saudi Arabia’s first cruise terminal at Jeddah Islamic Port, and to mobilise the infrastructure, manpower and systems required to host global cruise lines for Saudi Arabia’s first full summer and winter cruise seasons.

“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.”

Cruise and Conservation
MSC Foundation, the private non-profit organisation for MSC Group and the Ba’a Foundation, a non-profit organi
sation in Saudi Arabia, also announced that they will join forces to advance coral conservation thus helping to safeguard marine ecosystems. 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 the end of July and late October with 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 launched this year will also make her debut in Saudi Arabia during winter 2021/2022 with calls in the port of Dammam.

For more information, visit www.msccruisesksa.com

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