Middle East Cruise News

MSC Cruises to replace Splendida with Orchestra for 2023/24 season in Saudi

MSC Cruises will be switching out MSC Splendida with MSC Orchestra for the upcoming 2023/24 cruise season out of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

MSC Splendida is currently homeporting in Saudi Arabia for the 2022/23 cruise season which wraps up in April this year, and will then reposition to the Mediterranean for the summer.

This current season is Saudi Arabia’s second since 2021 when it operated its first, with huge local demand for cruises that led MSC Cruises to sign a 5-year berthing agreement in Jeddah.

MSC Orchestra

MSC Orchestra will arrive in Jeddah in November when she wraps up her 2023 summer season in the Mediterranean. The ship will initially sail a repositioning voyage from Genoa to Safaga, the seaside tourist destination in Egypt and gateway to Luxor.

She’ll sail one roundtrip 7-night cruise in the Red Sea from Safaga on November 19th, and then on November 21st, she’ll sail her first roundtrip cruise from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

This is because MSC will be interporting between several Red Sea ports during the 2023/24 cruise season, a practise whereby a cruise line offers more than one port as the embarkation and disembarkation port.

Safaga, Jeddah, Sharm El Sheikh and Port Sokhna will all be offered as homeports. This means passengers can embark or disembark in any of these ports (although the port at which you start the cruise must also be the one where you end it).

On each of her 7-night roundtrip cruises from Jeddah MSC Orchestra will therefore visit Safaga, Sharm El Sheikh and Port Sokhna, as well as Aqaba in Jordan, which is the only port on the itineraries that isn’t offered as a homeport.

Aqaba in Jordan is the gateway to Petra.

Aqaba is the gateway to the iconic ancient city of Petra. The port’s history dates back to 4,000 BC and was once a key Roman port. Nowadays, its year-round sun, makes it popular for water sports and snorkelling over the coral reefs of the Red Sea that teem with brightly coloured fish.

Magnificent Petra is the main draw. This ancient city carved out of stone, and one of the World’s Seven Wonders, is an hours-long bus ride inland.

Sharm el-Sheikh is an Egyptian resort town that sits on the Red Sea with the desert of the Sinai Peninsula at its back. It’s popular for its sheltered sandy beaches, clear waters, and coral reefs.

Ras Muhammad National Park is particularly good for diving, with marine life teeming around the Shark and Yolanda reefs and the Thistlegorm wreck.

For those not diving or snorkelling, Naama Bay, with a palm tree-lined promenade, is filled with bars and restaurants.

The Pyramids of Giza outside Cairo.

Port Sokhna is a small seaside town that is primarily used as a gateway to Cairo, the ancient capital of Egypt, home to the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Sphinx of Giza and others wonders.

Safaga is another gateway port, with inland shore excursions to Luxor on the east bank of the Nile River, the site of ancient Thebes, the pharaohs’ capital at the height of their power, during the 16th–11th centuries B.C. Here you’ll find the Valley of the Kings, Karnak Temple and more.

And last but not least is Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s primary Red Sea port and burgeoning cruise capital. MSC Orchestra will board most of her passengers here, as Jeddah has the best flight connections of all the homeports being used by MSC in the Red Sea.

Jeddah Old Quarter

Jeddah has long been a gateway for pilgrimages to the Islamic holy cities Mecca and Medina, but for cruise passengers wishing to see more of the city before or after their cruise, they’d do well to explore the Waterfront area with its shops, cafes, restaurants and views of the city from the iconic King Fahd’s Fountain.

The city’s Al-Balad historic district dates to the 7th century and retains traditional homes built from coral, as well as museums telling the story of this ancient land.

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