Middle East Cruise News

Saudi Arabia tightens entry requirements ahead of winter cruise season

Saudi Arabia has tightened entry requirements for tourists amid its 2021/22 winter cruise season in response to the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Prior to the emergence of the Omicron variant, fully vaccinated tourists from green list countries didn’t require a PCR test on arrival, but all incoming travellers are now required to present a COVID test result.

MSC Bellissima in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia last year imposed strict travel bans as the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, but resumed travel through its airports, land borders and ports in January, 2021.

Travel restrictions on COVID-19 hot spots have continued, with six countries (Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, Vietnam, Egypt, and India) recently added to a list of countries from which travellers can arrive in Saudi Arabia with only five days of quarantine.

On December 6th, 2021, Saudi Arabia eased restrictions further, allowing passengers vaccinated with the Sputnik V vaccine to enter the country with only 48 hours quarantine and a PCR test on arrival.

Vaccines accepted by Saudi Arabia

2 doses of: Pfizer BioNTech or Comirnaty

2 doses of: Oxford AstraZeneca or Covishield or SK Bioscience or Vaxzevria

2 doses of: Moderna or Spikevax

2 doeses of: Sputnik V

1 dose of: Johnson & Johnson

For all passengers arriving in Saudi Arabia, regardless of the vaccine they have received, a negative PCR test certificate must be presented.

The PCR test must have been taken within 72 hours, and must be issued from a laboratory verified by the Saudi government. The national airline, Saudia, has a list for each country here.

Cruise passengers will need to fill out the Registration Immunization Information Form before disembarking in the Kingdom. This will then enable them to register their vaccination data which will enable them to usethe TAWAKKALNA App.

The app has to be presented when entering the country, along with another app called Quddum.

MSC Cruises will be the first cruise line to call in Dammam on its Arabian Gulf itineraries.

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The changes to Saudi Arabia’s entry rules come amid its winter cruise season, during which MSC Bellissima is homeporting in Jeddah on the Red Sea, cruising roundtrip to ports in Jordan and along the Saudi Arabian coast.

In addition to MSC Bellissima, another MSC cruise ship, MSC Virtuosa, which is homeporting in Dubai for the winter cruise season, will be calling in Dammam on the Kingdom’s Arabian Gulf coast.

The changes to Saudi Arabia’s entry rules apply to cruise passengers flying in to join cruises from Jeddah, as well as those passengers flying in to Dubai and cruising in the Arabian Gulf (if they plan to disembark the ship in Dammam).

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