World Dream, the former Dream Cruises flagship, was sailing through the Red Sea enroute for the Suez Canal at the time of writing Friday, bound for a European shipyard for conversion following her purchase by Saudi Arabia.
World Dream sailed along the coastline of her new owners as she made for the Suez Canal, which provides access between the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean. She was purchased earlier this year by Cruise Saudi for a reported US $330 million.
The acquisition of World Dream marks the largest expansion yet in Saudi Arabia’s plans to develop its nascent but fast-growing cruise industry. Cruise Saudi is a government agency tasked with establishing the country as a major cruise destination, as well as growing a domestic home cruise market.
Cruise Saudi last year announced it was collaborating with Aman Hotels & Resorts on the construction of a luxury cruising superyacht for operation in the Red Sea, with Jeddah as a homeport for a range of itineraries.
Cruise Saudi and the hotel and resort operator Aman Group have formed a joint venture called Neptune Co. The cruising yacht under construction for the company, known as Aman at Sea, will be approximately 600 feet long and 23,000 gross tons. It will feature just 50 suites, each with a private balcony.
The ship will also feature an array of dining options, including an informal all-day restaurant and international dining options as well as a relaxed club and lounge, and an Aman-style luxury spa complete with a Japanese relaxation garden.
Other amenities for the passengers include two helipads and a stern beach club, making the vessel more akin to a superyacht than a luxury cruise ship. It’s being built by the T. Mariotti shipyard, which reported that the vessel is scheduled for delivery in 2026.
The acquisition of World Dream, however, is a much larger development.
The vessel is 150,700 gross tons and carries upwards of 5,000 passengers, with 35 restaurants and bars, several pools and hot tubs, a water park, an arcade, a basketball court and multi-function space, a mini golf course, an outdoor rock climbing wall, an adventure ropes course, and a mini mall with a range of boutique brands.
The ship is not only significantly larger than Aman at Sea, but is also the first purchase of a mainstream, mass-market cruise ship by Cruise Saudi, suggesting the agency plans to partner with a ship operator to launch a domestic cruise line for the Saudi market.
World Dream will reportedly be re-named Manara (an Arabic girls’ name meaning ‘Light’), but few other details have been announced about Cruise Saudi’s plans for the ship.