MSC Bellissima has arrived in Saudi Arabia, sailing into Jeddah Islamic Port over the weekend, the first mainstream cruise ship ever to dock in the city.
The arrival of MSC Bellissima in Jeddah comes ahead of the start of her summer season of Red Sea cruise itineraries roundtrip from the city.
MSC Bellissima is the first cruise ship to homeport in Saudi Arabia for a full cruise season, with the ship due to sail 21 three and four-night cruises from Jeddah, visiting Safaga, Egypt and Aqaba, Jordan.
In late October, she’ll reposition out of the region, but will be replaced in November by MSC Magnifica, which will sail longer 7-night itineraries in the Red Sea out of Jeddah.
MSC Magnifica’s Saudi Arabian cruise season was announced several weeks ago, but in a surprise move MSC Cruises expanded its Saudi program with MSC Bellissima a few days ago.
MSC Bellissima will be the eighth MSC cruise ship to resume sailing with passengers. A further three vessels are preparing to resume operations, which will bring half the company’s fleet back into service by the end of summer.
Six MSC Cruises ships have already been brought back into operation, all of them in Europe: MSC Grandiosa, MSC Seaside, MSC Orchestra, MSC Splendida and MSC Magnifica are in the Mediterranean, while MSC Virtuosa is cruising from the UK and MSC Seaview is cruising in the Baltic Sea from Germany.
MSC Meraviglia from August 2nd will resume Caribbean cruises from Miami and will be joined in the region from September 18th, when MSC Divina restarts sailing from Port Canaveral near Orlando in Florida.
The MSC Seashore will come into service in August with voyages in the West Mediterranean before the company’s newest flagship transfers in November to Miami for a season in the Caribbean.
The arrival of MSC Bellissima in Saudi Arabia marks a major transformative moment for the cruise industry in the Middle East. The ship will pave the way for additional major cruise lines to homeport in the country, significantly enhancing the appeal of the Middle East as a cruise destination.
With Saudi Arabian ports now available to cruise lines sailing through the Red Sea, the repositioning voyages necessary to homeport a ship in Dubai will be far more appealing to passengers (who previously would have had to spend a week to ten days at sea between Suez or Aqaba and Oman).
“With our cruises this summer from Jeddah of MSC Bellissima and a ship dedicated for the winter season in the Red Sea we are committed to serve holidaymakers with the very best cruise experiences,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman, MSC Cruises.
“This, we believe, will accelerate the attractiveness of holidays at sea in the region and significantly help in the growth of tourism,” he added.