Cruise Saudi says Jeddah will get an ‘iconic’ new cruise terminal within the next five to seven years as Saudi Arabia’s cruise sector rapidly emerges.
Speaking at the Seatrade Cruise Global conference in Miami, Cruise Saudi’s Chief Strategy Officer Ghassan Khan said Saudi Arabia has “come on the map” this year.
Khan told Seatrade Cruise Group Director Mary Bond that the Saudi Arabian cruise market had seen significant demand this year and that the existing cruise terminal in Jeddah would soon be redeveloped into a state-of-the-art facility.
“We have to make a statement and have an iconic cruise terminal,” he said. “Saudi Arabia has come on the map.”
Khan added that in the last year since Saudi Arabia announced it would allow cruises to sell to and from the country for the first time, more than 20,000 cruise bookings had been made by local and international cruise tourists.
MSC Cruises is currently sailing its first Saudi cruise season out of Jeddah aboard MSC Bellissima, which has been warmly received by the local market.
“Saudis are falling in love with cruising,” he said, “We have to develop partnerships to uplift the standard to put it on par with the Mediterranean.”
Khan said that the synergy between the Arabian Gulf cruise market and the emerging Saudi cruise market would make the Middle East region as a whole a much stronger cruise destination.
“Saudi can be a very good source market for the industry going forward. When cruise lines consider coming to the region, they should consider Saudi,” he said. “‘This region will be the new region for cruising over all. If we make it work, we’ll have a brand new opportunity.”
Ahead of the launch of MSC Bellissima’s cruise season out of Jeddah, Saudi Arabian authorities converted the port’s former ferry terminal into a cruise terminal, while also redeveloping Yanbu port, enabling it to receive cruise vessels.
In November, the country’s Dammam port will be launched as a cruise destination for MSC Virtuosa, which will call at the port on its roundtrip cruises out of Dubai during the 2021/22 winter cruise season.