Saudi Arabia's Yanbu Port officially started the 3rd edition of the Saudi cruise season by berthing the MSC's ship MSC Splendida, which arrived from Jeddah Islamic Port, marking the maiden call for the current season that is expected to run until May 2023.
To celebrate the start of the new cruise season, an official crest exchange ceremony was held at Yanbu and Jeddah onboard the 4,300-passenger liner, which is scheduled to make weekly voyages from Jeddah Islamic Port as part of an itinerary that covers the Red Sea hubs given their stature as fast-emerging cruise destinations in the region besides Jordan and Egypt.
The influx of cruise ships into the kingdom follows the strategic efforts of Saudi Ports Authority (Mawani) to attract high ship traffic and offer top-tier services.
This comes as part of Saudi Arabia's national transport and logistics strategy aiming to bolster the local economy, foster the tourism sector's growth, improve the quality of life, and enrich the sports and entertainment scene with new and competitive offerings.
According to Mawani, the ports of the kingdom were well-equipped to receive cruise ships due to its state-of-the-art infrastructure/operational capabilities, which makes it a preferred investment hotspot for the maritime industry.
The growth in cruise capacity aligns with the ambitions of the Public Investment Fund-owned business Cruise Saudi which oversees "the development of the local cruise ecosystem, to position the kingdom as a premier global cruise destination."
The 3rd season is expected to welcome 75+ calls from international cruise ships at both Jeddah and Yanbu ports.
Image: Port of Yanbu Al-Bahr (Saudi Arabia)
During the past two seasons, Saudi ports hosted 50,000+ tourists from 80 different countries aboard 70+ ships.