MSC Cruises has amended the cruise itinerary for MSC Bellissima’s winter season out of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia between November, 2021 and March, 2022.
MSC Bellissima will no longer call in Safaga, Egypt, and will spend longer in port in Saudi Arabia instead to give passengers the opportunity to explore the country’s World Heritage Sites.
MSC Cruises said it was forced to drop Egypt as a port of call because many of its source markets for its Red Sea itineraries are countries that have Egypt listed as “high-risk”, meaning passengers would need to quarantine on their return home.
Instead of calling Safaga, Egypt, which is used as a gateway to the ancient ruins of Luxor, MSC Bellissia will instead offer seven-night cruises calling at the Saudi Arabian ports of King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) and Yanbu, then on to Aqaba in Jordan before returning to Jeddah.
The ship will stay overnight in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia so guests can visit AlUla, one of the oldest cities in the Arabian Peninsula and home to Hegra, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Hegra is an ancient city hidden in the sands of the desert. A guided tour will allow guests to discover some of its monuments, of which there are more than 100 at the site.
AlUla is situated in a desert setting in the Hijaz mountains and where pilgrims, travelers and permanent settlers have gathered over the centuries. Surrounded by an ancient oasis, the town boasts a citadel dating back to the 10th century, 900 brick houses, 400 shops and a maze of alleyways and squares.
There’s also the option of visiting a secluded island, partaking in coral reef snorkeling or a desert excursion.
King Abdullah Economic City is primarily a commercial container port and freezone, but the ship will call there so that passengers can go on a sightseeing tour of the holy city of Medina or a day on the beach.
Medina is the second-holiest of three cities in the Islamic world, the other two being Mecca and Jerusalem. The Masjid al-Nabawi (‘Prophet’s Mosque’) built by Muhammad in 622 CE, is of exceptional importance as it is the site of burial of the last Islamic prophet. Muslims visit his rawdhah in what is known as Ziyarat at least once in their lifetime.
MSC Bellissima will stay in port in Jeddah at the begining of each cruise until late in the evening each Saturday, giving passengers the chance to explore the ancient city and see the old town of Al Balad, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
A “highlight” of the voyage, according to MSC, is a visit to the Wonders of Petra – the ancient city and UNESCO World Heritage site in the middle of the Jordanian desert, rediscovered in 1812.