AROYA Cruises has given the clearest indication yet of some of the ways it will set itself apart from other cruise lines in the global industry, with Lars Clasen, CEO of Cruise Saudi, indicating that it will reflect Arabian preferences from stem to stern.
Cruise Saudi is the parent company of AROYA Cruises, and is itself a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s mammoth sovereign wealth fund, PIF, holding assets in excess of US $700-billion, including a sizeable stake in Carnival Corporation, the largest cruise company in the world.
By making AROYA Cruises an authentically Arabian cruise brand, Cruise Saudi is doing something that has never been done before, as the cruise industry has historically been dominated by European and North American brands.
“Cruise Saudi’s vision is to become a world class cruise port and cruise line operator, in line with Vision 2030, and launching a new cruise line is a natural step in our ambitious plans,” said Clasen, speaking to Cruise Industry News.
AROYA Cruises has acquired the former World Dream of Dream Cruises, at an auction in late 2022 for over $300 million, and has sent the ship to Germany for a complete refit and refurbishment.
Classen said details of the features and amenities being introduced onboard would be introduced at a later date, but suggested they would be commensurate with those found aboard premium cruise brands in the global fleet.
“The new name (of the ship) as well as details about the level of work, timeline and investment will be announced during the commercial launch but the dedicated AROYA Cruises team are working hard to ensure the facilities onboard are of the highest standard for guests,” he said.
The reference to the name of the ship suggested her reported renaming to Manama, meaning light in Arabic, may only be temporary during her refurbishment period.
Columbia Blue has been appointed as ship manager and acting project manager during the ship’s refurbishment, with future operational activities to be defined at a later stage.
It is expected that AROYA Cruises will partner with a global ship manager to operate the vessel, while simultaneously training up local Saudi Arabian staff for future homegrown operation.
Classen said that World Dream, originally built by Meyer Werft for Genting and the premium Dream Cruises brand, will be converted to a ship for the Arabian demographic, with the intention of building out a Saudi Arabian and wider Middle Eastern cruise source market.
“Everything from the staff and the food to the way rooms are furnished is designed to reflect Arabian preferences,” he said. “AROYA Cruises is reinventing what it means to holiday in Arabia and will be the cruise line that leads the way, by creating joyful and memorable experiences for guests at sea and on-shore, commercially and sustainably.”
AROYA Cruises has not confirmed itineraries, but it is likely to initially offer local cruises in the Red Sea out of Jeddah, as well as perhaps the wider Middle East, before introducing more international sailings.
“Locally, AROYA Cruises will offer passengers the opportunity to explore Saudi along the beautiful Red Sea and Arabian Gulf,” Clasen said. “Locally, we expect to increase our passenger numbers year on year, and open up the Saudi coastlines to our target audience, who may never have otherwise visited.”
“AROYA Cruises will also help us achieve our goal of providing 50,000 direct and indirect jobs in Saudi by 2035,” Clasen added. “On a wider scale, we hope the AROYA Cruises fleet will continue to grow, in line with Cruise Saudi’s wider efforts to put Saudi on the global cruising map and welcome 1.3 million international and local passengers by 2035.”