Middle East Cruise News

Saudi Arabia targets key fly-cruise markets with new instant E-visa

Saudi Arabia has announced a new instant e-visa option that will enable UK, US, and Schengen visa holders and permanent residents of the UK, US, and any EU country, to obtain instant tourist visas online.

The new e-visa option will make it easier for passengers from these key cruise markets to fly to Saudi Arabia and board cruise ships sailing roundtrip in the Red Sea.

While only MSC Cruises currently offers a homeport season in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia is actively working to attract more cruise lines.

Planned Jeddah Cruise Terminal

The Kingdom has also become a popular port of call in the Red Sea, thanks to its long coastline that provides a welcome respite from days at sea for cruise ships transiting between Europe and Asia via the Suez Canal.

The e-visas can be obtained through the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, making it easier than ever for travelers to visit the country. The instant visa option is one of several initiatives that Saudi has launched over the past year to improve the visitor experience.

Prior to this, Saudi has extended regulation to provide visas on arrival to holders of valid US, UK, and Schengen visas and permanent residents of the UK, the US and EU countries. The e-visa eligibility has also been extended to residents of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Earlier this year, the country also announced the launch of a new Stopover Visa which is free of charge and available to those traveling on the Saudia and Flynas airlines. This visa will allow visitors to stay in the country for up to 96 hours.

MSC Orchestra

Saudi Arabia also offers a maritime visa specifically for cruise tourists, which is available for citizens and residents of all other countries. The Maritime E-Visa is also issued online, but is not instant and requires passengers to prove they will take a cruise to or from Saudi Arabia.

MSC Cruises will be homeporting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with MSC Orchestra from November this year, offering 7-night roundtrip cruises in the Red Sea visiting Safaga, Jeddah, Sharm El Sheikh, Aqaba and Port Sokhna.

The coming 2023/24 cruise season in Saudi Arabia will be the country’s third since it opened to cruise tourism in 2021. Around 50,000 cruise passengers have sailed on MSC ships annually in Saudi Arabia, with around half of them coming from Saudi Arabia’s home market.

Leave a Reply