Middle East Cruise News

Cruise Saudi joins CLIA amid expansion of cruise plans

Cruise Saudi, the organisation established to grow Saudi Arabia’s cruise tourism sector, has been welcomed as an executive partner of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) during Seatrade Cruise Global.

Cruise Saudi’s partnership with CLIA comes amid a major push to establish Saudi Arabia as a cruise destination in the Middle East, with cruise infrastructure development underway and one of the largest cruise ship’s in the world homeporting in Jeddah.

Members of Cruise Saudi and CLIA at Seatrade Global in Miami. (L-R) Mark Robinson, chief commercial and operations officer of Cruise Saudi; Kelly Craighead, president and CEO of CLIA; Miguel Reyna chief development & asset management officer of Cruise Saudi; Pierfrancesco Vago, global chairman of CLIA (and executive chairman of MSC Cruises); Ragda Bakhorji, corporate communications manager of Cruise Saudi.

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CLIA is the world’s largest cruise industry trade organisation. Cruise Saudi joins more than 50 cruise lines, 13,000 global travel agencies and 50,000 travel agent members representing 95% of the world’s ocean-going cruise capacity bodies.

As an executive member, Cruise Saudi will be able to attend networking events and build relationships and connections with the global cruise industry, which will be key to Saudi Arabia’s ambitions of turning Jeddah into a major cruise homeport.

Currently, MSC Bellissima, one of the largest cruise ships in the MSC fleet, is homeporting in Jeddah for the summer and winter cruise seasons, sailing roundtrip in the Red Sea. Several other cruise lines have also announced cruises to or from Saudi Arabia, but what Cruise Saudi really needs is for more cruise lines to homeport in the country like MSC.

In a statement, the organisation said that its membership of CLIA demonstrates its “ongoing commitment to contributing to the development of Saudi Arabia into a premier cruise destination.”

Cruise Saudi also referenced the rapid growth of the cruise sector in the country from “non-existant” to “facilitating the operation of some of the only ships to sail this summer.”

MSC Bellissima is currently homeporting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

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While Dubai is the premier cruise port in the Middle East, with more homeporting cruise ships than any other Middle East destination, Saudi Arabia saw the resumption of cruises in the region a full three months before it.

Cruise Saudi has already established partnerships with major cruise lines — with MSC Bellissima and Scenic Eclipse in operation sailing the Saudi coastline for the summer season.

The organisation told Seatrade Cruise Global attendees that more ships would soon be announced for the coming winter cruise season, but didn’t elaborate. Royal Caribbean has previously indicated a strong interest in seeing Saudi Arabia open up to cruise lines, as has Norwegian Cruise Line.

“We are proud to announce our membership of CLIA, one of the most prestigious industry trade bodies,” said Fawaz Farooqui, managing director of Cruise Saudi.

“In line with Vision 2030, Cruise Saudi supports the diversification of the Saudi economy and drives the growth of the local tourism sector by showcasing the country’s nature, culture and heritage to domestic and international cruise passengers,” he added.

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