Middle East Cruise News

MSC Splendida begins inaugural cruise season in Saudi Arabia for 2022/23

MSC Splendida has arrived in Saudi Arabia for the first time, celebrating maiden port call plaque exchange ceremonies in Jeddah and Yanbu this week as she commences her first cruise season in the country.

The first plaque exchange ceremony was held on Wednesday in Jeddah Islamic Port, Saudi Arabia’s primary cruise embarkation port, while the second was held on Thursday in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia’s 2,500-year-old port and gateway to the holy city of Madinah.

Although this is MSC Splendida’s first time in Saudi Arabia, it is MSC Cruises and Saudi Arabia’s third time operating and hosting a full cruise season in the Red Sea. The Saudi cruise season runs from November to March annually, and while MSC is the only homeporting cruise line for now, several cruise lines will call in the country during the season.

MSC Splendida

For the next several months, MSC Splendida will make weekly calls at both Jeddah and Yanbu Ports, as well as Egypt and Jordan on on 3, 4 and 7-day cruise itineraries.

With a capacity of 4,300 passengers and 1,000+ crew members, MSC Splendida has a myriad of activities and facilities available for guests. There are four swimming pools, a jogging track, a squash court and gym as well as the MSC Aurea Spa and a sun deck featuring a range of dining and bar options.

Cruise Arabia & Africa spent a week aboard the ship during her most recent Dubai cruise season, the review can be read here.

“We are pleased to welcome MSC Splendida to Saudi – the fourth ship from MSC Cruises to sail Saudi waters since Cruise Saudi launched the industry less than two years ago,” said Dr. Hani Gharbawi, General Counsel, Cruise Saudi.

“We look forward to welcoming more renowned global cruise ships and passengers to discover and experience Saudi – the newest player in the cruising arena – by land and sea as part of our newly launched season,” he added. “The country’s breathtaking natural beauty, rich cultural heritage and historical wonders make it a must-visit destination for travelers.”

MSC Bellissima in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia during the last cruise season

Gharbawi was refering to the three MSC cruise ships that have called in Saudi Arabia since its cruise industry was opened up to the world in 2019: MSC Bellissima was the first cruise ship ever to homeport in the country in 2021, MSC Virtuosa replaced her with a summer season earlier in 2022, and MSC Orchestra called in Jeddah last week enroute to her summer season in South Africa.

MSC Sinfonia, Silversea’s Silver Spirit, Residences at Sea’s The World, Viking Cruises’ Neptune, Silversea’s Silver Cloud and Fred. Olsen’s Bolette are also scheduled to call in Saudi Arabia during the current season.

Since its launch in January 2021, Cruise Saudi – in conjunction with Mawani and other local and governmental entities – has equipped three ports in Saudi (Jeddah, Yanbu, and Dammam) with the required infrastructure to receive cruise ships.

Saudi Arabia has held two successful cruise seasons in 2021 and 2022 and welcomed more than 50,000 local and international passengers from 80 countries, ships from four global cruise lines have conducted around 70 itineraries from Jeddah.

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