MSC Cruises is seeing significant growth in passenger numbers on its Red Sea itineraries out of Saudi Arabia, with up to 200,000 expected for the coming 2023/24 cruise season.
That would represent a 40% increase in the past 24 months, with nearly 250,000 MSC Cruises passengers having sailed to and from Saudi Arabia since 2021 when the cruise line first entered the Saudi cruise market.
MSC Cruises said in a statement that the forecast growth in passenger numbers underscores its commitment to expanding cruise tourism in the country.
The cruise line has played a pivotal role in developing the cruise industry in Saudi Arabia and was the first major cruise company to operate Red Sea sailings from Jeddah in 2021 when the Kingdom first opened to the cruise industry.
“We are honoured to have played an important role partnering with the key government bodies to stimulate the establishment of the cruise industry in Saudi Arabia,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman, MSC Cruises.
“This is thanks to the support and partnership with the Saudi Government and the country’s Tourism Minister His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb, for which we are grateful,” he added.
MSC Cruises says its roundtrip Red Sea itineraries out of Jeddah are popular with passengers from 124 different nationalities, with Italy, Germany, Spain, France, and the USA being the largest source markets.
This coming cruise season, which runs from November to March, will be MSC Cruises’ third in Saudi Arabia. MSC Orchestra will operate 20 seven-night cruises round trip from Jeddah, offering passengers the opportunity to explore exciting destinations.
Port calls on these itineraries include Aqaba in Jordan, and Sharm El-Sheikh, Sokhna Port for Cairo, and Safaga for Luxor in Egypt. The itineraries are designed to showcase the beauty, wonders, and local hospitality of Saudi Arabia and its neighboring regions.
Vago emphasized that MSC Cruises’ commitment to Saudi Arabia reflects the wider industry’s recognition of the region’s potential as a cruise destination and its dedication to providing travelers with enriching and memorable experiences.
MSC’s Saudi cruise season will coincide with the Arabian Gulf cruise season, with most cruise lines homeporting in Dubai and sailing 7-night roundtrip itineraries to ports in the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Dammam in Saudi Arabia.