The five-year preferential berthing agreement gives MSC Cruises early access to the port and suggests that it foresees rapid growth of the Saudi Arabian cruise market.
MSC Cruises was the first cruise line in the world to announce a Saudi Arabian homeporting cruise season in the Red Sea, and now that the country has opened up to international cruises, its likely to welcome many more cruise lines in the coming months.
Jeddah Port is not yet kitted out for major cruise operations, it has one small cruise terminal, making space limited for cruise lines looking to dock in convenient parts of the port.
The announcement of the preferential berthing agreement was made aboard MSC Bellissima, the cruise line’s huge Meravigilia-class cruise ship which has just commenced a summer season of cruises in the Red Sea.
Alongside the signing of the agreement, MSC and Cruise Saudi also inaugurated the new passenger terminal in the city.
According to the cruise line’s press release, this is 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 new cruise terminal will welcome guests onboard for MSC Bellissima’s inaugural season in the Red Sea with three- and four-night cruises from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to both Egypt and Jordan until the end of October.
In November, MSC Magnifica will then arrive to operate a season of winter cruises, while MSC Virtuosa, homeporting in Dubai for her Arabian Gulf cruise season during the same time, will also include Damman in her itineraries.
The event onboard the MSC Bellissima was hosted by Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises and Fawaz Farooqui, Managing Director of Cruise Saudi.
The Master of the ship Captain Roberto Leotta, who will helm the MSC Bellissima in the months ahead, exchanged crests with Fawaz Farooqui in a traditional maritime ceremony to celebrate a vessel’s maiden port call.
“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,” said Vago.